Johnson City Press Thursday, July 24, 2014
Opinion

War of ideas

January 14th, 2014 8:46 am by CHARLIE MATTIOLI

War of ideas

I found Kenneth Gouge’s Jan. 5 column to be one example of too many of his opinions based on half-truths, exaggeration and historical inaccuracy.
He’s a partisan spokesman in the ideological war going on in this country. His goal seems to be vilify liberalism and consecrate conservatism. It’s a war of ideas. Too bad, because some of the first casualties of war are truth, balance and perspective. I lay the same criticisms to writers on the “other side.”
The first case in point is his simplistic one-sided view of the Enlightenment — taking excesses, exaggerating them and stacking the deck with arguments that have little resemblance to history. There’s too much he leaves out — too much to get to in a letter like this. But here’s just a sampling: This nation was founded on the ideas of the Enlightenment — the rights of individuals, limited government, representative government, separation of church and state, federalism, checks and balances and the list goes on. These are all liberal ideas largely absent in the preceding 1,500 or more years of Western history.
If socialism was one of its leftist children as he claims, why doesn’t he inform the reader that so was the capitalism of Adam Smith? Did some ideas of that age go too far regarding human nature, thinking “reason” as the simple answer, and inevitable progress? Yes, but such excesses occur in every new age and new ideas. Laissez-faire capitalism had to be modified to be fair and to survive its own excesses.
Somehow Gouge then leaps from his one-sided history to the Trayvon Martin case again exaggerating opinion and lumping liberals into the same “wrong-headed” bubble.
For a conservative who insists that his brand has a monopoly in knowing human nature and realizing how perverse it can be, he applies Teflon to all conservative history and opinion and assigns only ignorance and evil to that which is progressive. Apparently that perverse human nature is not universal in his view.
CHARLIE MATTIOLI
Elizabethton

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