“Extremist!” Don’t Let Critics of America’s Foundations Define the Term

“You’re an extremist!” If you are at all involved in the American political discourse you have probably heard this phrase used quite often. If you are at all principled in your beliefs, chances are you have been accused of being an extremist yourself by people that oppose your positions. What exactly does it mean to be “extreme” in America? If you are a passionate advocate in support of our Constitution and our Founding principles, does that make you an “extremist?” If you listen to certain voices on the Left it does. This is not only a nasty politically-motivated slur, but it is also illogical and dangerous to our Union.

The Looking Glass for 1787 – Spirited, even vitriolic, debate is nothing new in America, even the Founders often got carried away. This however does not mean we shouldn’t strive to keep it honest and more productive today.

Definitions

There are two relevant definitions of “extreme” that have a slight variation in concept. According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, these are:

1. Existing in a very high degree, going to great or exaggerated lengths, radical, exceeding the ordinary, usual, or expected

2. situated at the farthest possible point from a center

The “Center” of America

Subjective “Extremism” Today

My Fellow Liberal – Colin Wright. This was tweeted recently by Elon Musk and it seems to resonate with many Americans that feel the sands are shifting under their feet.

“…Now this approach is being dismissed as extremist. I must admit that I was initially disappointed in being so categorized. But as I continued to think about the matter, I gradually gained a bit of satisfaction from being considered an extremist. Was not Jesus an extremist in love? — “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, pray for them that despitefully use you.” Was not Amos an extremist for justice? — “Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.” Was not Paul an extremist for the gospel of Jesus Christ? — “I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.” Was not Martin Luther an extremist? — “Here I stand; I can do no other so help me God.” Was not John Bunyan an extremist? — “I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a mockery of my conscience.” Was not Abraham Lincoln an extremist? — “This nation cannot survive half slave and half free.” Was not Thomas Jefferson an extremist? — “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” So the question is not whether we will be extremist, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate, or will we be extremists for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice, or will we be extremists for the cause of justice?”

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