Saturday, September 6, 2008

Sloppy Thinking

A letter to the editor of the D.C. Examiner that apparently was deemed unworthy for publication.

Re: Melanie Scarborough's "Obama scorns founders' vision of freedom" Aug. 25.

Unencumbered by logic, or anything remotely resembling sound reasoning, Melanie Scarborough writes, "Obama largely rejects the principles of individual liberty on which this nation was founded. His thinking is more closely aligned with Karl Marx's than John Locke's." Scarborough supports this rather dubious proposition by quoting selectively from writings of Obama and Marx, and concluding that because of the similarities, Obama is a Marxist. This is a textbook example of the fallacy of faulty analogy. That is, Scarborough assumes that because Obama and Marx made similar observations about the need for collective action, it necessarily follows that Obama subscribes to Marx's philosophy in its entirety. Under that argument, John F. Kennedy was a Marxist when he started the Peace Corps. Scarborough's descent into intellectual muddiness is also evidenced by the following contradiction: "Obama doesn't quote Marx word-for-word--but it's close. Looks like Joe Biden isn't going to be the only plagiarist on the Democratic ticket." If Obama did not use Marx's precise wording, how can he be guilty of plagiarism?

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Alexandria, VA, United States
'To see what is in front of one's nose requires a constant struggle." - George Orwell