Letter: Don’t reflexively bash ‘extremism’A fatuous letter in a recent Woodbury Bulletin asserted that Sixth Congressional district Rep. Michele Bachmann does not represent “all” of the residents of her district.
By: Thomas St. Martin, Woodbury Bulletin
A fatuous letter in a recent Woodbury Bulletin asserted that Sixth Congressional district Rep. Michele Bachmann does not represent “all” of the residents of her district.
As if any politician has ever represented everyone’s views and needs, no exceptions. Such statements, needless to say, are not very helpful, merely adding to the already large pile of election year nonsense.
Yet, much as one may be annoyed by such silliness, a more serious concern is the letter’s indiscriminate use of the term “extremist.” Regrettably, this term has become a McCarthyite word used to discredit the views of anyone with whom one disagrees.
But, like so many of today’s political cliches, it is a term which, by itself, is largely meaningless. Extreme in relation to what?
Maybe extreme relative to the writer’s prejudices (in this instance hatred of the “religious right”)? Maybe extreme relative to some conformist “mainstream” conventional wisdom? Or is an extremist anyone who thinks, rightly or wrongly, that some principles cannot be compromised?
It follows, then, that people who reflexively condemn “extremism” have some hard questions to answer.
They should take time to understand the issues and concerns that have given rise to the political and social conflicts which the “moderates” often wish to ignore or dismiss.
Perhaps they should look in the mirror and see the extremism implicit in their own dogmatic insistence on moderation at all costs.
Perhaps they should remove their rose colored glasses and see modern politics for what it is, a clash of peoples, interests and parties with radically different views of the human good, conflicts which will not be resolved by airy appeals to moderation.
Perhaps they should also remember that certain of today’s “extremists” might just become one of tomorrow’s heroes.
Or that “extremist” divisiveness may be a good antidote to today’s naive “moderationist” ideology.
Thomas St. Martin