To the editor,
A few weeks ago, Mr. Earle was having difficulty grasping the meaning of extremism. He can be assured that holding political views and beliefs do not make one an extremist. However, if those views show distain for the rights and liberties of others they do become extreme.
Rest assured, Mr. Earle, that extremists represent both sides of the political spectrum, right wing or left wing, their views are typically beyond the boundaries of logic. They are broadly divided into two groups; movements and adherents that are hate oriented and those that are mainly anti-government, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority or rejecting government entirely. They like to cloak their extremism under the guise of more legitimate discussions, but beneath the facade is some form of hate.
Extremists hold a strong feeling that their opponents have differing view because they are bad, immoral, dishonest, hateful, prejudiced, etc. and not merely because they simply disagree, see matters differently, or are mistaken. They demonize the other side and are intolerant of dissent, attacking the character of those with opposing views rather then deal with the facts or issues raised. Often they will question motives, qualifications, past associations, alleged values, and personalities as a diversion from the issues under consideration. A favorite devise of extremists is to resort to taunts/name calling (e.g. nutty professor, cool-aid drinker, moon bats, elitists, etc.) to label and condemn opponents and to divert others from listening to their positions or arguments. In addition, extremists may deliberately lie or otherwise distort, misquote, slander, defame, or libel their critics. With extremists, the end justifies the means.
Recently, Mr. Earle exemplified extremism with a letter to this forum in which he declared that the Obama administration had six members of the Muslim brotherhood on its staff. His information stems from a forwarded e-mail with the title of "White House Staff" or "new in the White House." This is an unproven conspiracy theory, which alleges that six American Islamic activists who work with the administration are Muslim Brotherhood operatives influencing American policies. There is a great lynch mob among us and they go unhooded and work without a rope.
In previous letters I've tried to outline how right wing extremists in the Republican Party have flirted with "birtherism", charges of socialism, and allegations that the president is a secret Muslim, hated whites and wanted to get even. This type of rhetoric was done to both enrage and energies the party's extremists. In doing so, they've turned their guns on their own leaders and in the process have driven the party more and more toward uncompromising positions. At one time the divide in the GOP was between Republican moderates and conservatives; today the intra-party cleavage is between the Republican establishment and the lunatic fringe.
Ultimately, the core problem that extremism presents is less the severity of their activities, but more so the closed, fixed, and intolerant nature of extremist attitudes and their subsequent imperviousness to change.
The time has come for extremists to start standing for something, instead of simply lashing out against things.
L. J. Siden