Friday, June 16, 2006

Extremism is Another Word for Evil

"That differences of opinion should arise among men on politics, on religion and on every other topic of human inquiry, and that these should be freely expressed in a country where all our faculties are free, is to be expected. But these valuable privileges are much perverted when permitted to disturb the harmony of social intercourse, and to lessen the tolerance of opinion."

--Thomas Jefferson: Reply to Citizens of Washington, 1809.

Extremism is a term used to describe either ideas or actions thought by others to be uncompromising and unwarranted in our society. In terms of ideas, it is often used to label political beliefs that are on the extreme end of the continuum...........far left or far right. More often than not, extremism uses violence to propel their "cause." Whether it's environmental extremists violently attacking a perceived polluter, animal rights activists threatening to kill scientists, or anti-abortion activists bombing an abortion centre, it's fanatical and it's powered by the same motivator -- evil. Extremism in all it's colours is ugly.

Groups don't label themselves "extremist." It doesn't work that way. Members of the Islamic faith don't label themselves Muslim extremists. No, the label is always applied by individuals outside of the fray. But, the label is correct. Extremist measures, fronted by human beings narrowmindedly hellbent on destroying.

You don't hear Ann Coulter describe herself as a right wing extremist. Religious fundamentalists dont consider themselves "extremists." No, they are pointing at the "lefties" and calling them extremists. Anti-fur wearing vegans, or environmentalists that go to the "extreme" of loading a tree with a large piece of metal to kill a logger don't label themselves leftie they are too busy pointing at the right wingers.

It's insane. It's rampant. It's intolerance at it's meanest peak, and it's murderous.

"You're right! I'm wrong! You're more nuts than I am. I'm going to blow you up because you performed a scientific experiment on a rat to test a new medicine. You're evil! No, you're more evil because you don't believe in my religion so I'm going to crash a plane into a building and kill thousands of innocents."

How distorted and disturbed has our world become.

Extremism is a single minded, narrow thinking, democracy disrupting hate enhancing virus that kills healthy debate.......that anhilates discussion and sharing of solutions to world issues. I hate it. I don't care what end of the continuum an extremist postulates and poisons from, it completely turns me off because it is destructive and disrespectful. It doesn't help the greater good. Why is it that individuals feel like they need to fuel their own fires with such hatred? What is the purpose? Where does it lead? Where will it end?

The discussion these past couple of weeks regarding the young Muslims arrested for terrorism plotting in Toronto seems vapidly vacant. Experts and analysts keep thumbing back to the idea that these youngins' joined the jihad movement due to boredom and teenage angst. They were in search of a "club" to belong to, and stumbled across a guy with big Islamic ideas who lured them to cross the invisible line where hate and evil lurk. C'mon...............there's got to be more to it than that! What's the solution, build them a community centre and provide a ping pong table? I don't think so.

Sure, there's a need for belonging to a group...........we all need to fulfill that need, but why didn't these guys just join their local YMCA or Dance club? Because they were brought up in a religion that has the potential to espouse messages over and over again to kill the enemy....... and the enemy is US!

There is no one who enjoys a good passionate political debate than me...........well, there are some who enjoy it as much and luckily I happen to know a Finnan or few that will give me a run for my money...........will make me think twice about my point of view, will motivate me to stand up for my beliefs or recheck my facts or sometimes even acquiese. You win some, you lose some and then you move on. Sure it feeds my need for intellectual discourse, but it doesn't fully define my raison d' self-definition.

Opinions? Oh yeah! I'm opinionated. Throw me a topic, and more often than not I have something to say about it. And if I don't, usually I'm interested enough to ask questions. What I don't have time for is stupid think and stupid talk that is boastful, ornery and self-righteous. What I won't put up with is when the topic being discussed somehow turns from the topic to dirty fighting finger pointing personal putdowns. But, there isn't any part of me that I would consider extreme. Yeah, I'd stand up for certain causes. There are "hills" that I would choose to fight over, but not in an evil inducing manner. So, why am I so different? Why am I a moderate? Values................................?

Do we all have the capacity to veer to the extreme? I hope not. What prompts an individual to define themselves in a way that one "cause" reflects their image? It all comes down to values...................religious, righteous, reactionary beliefs. So if a individual decides to embrace values that are extremist in nature, how do we fight that? I honestly don't know.


Anonymous said...

I like to tell liberals I'm a right-wing extremist. They usually laugh until I stare gladly into their eyes while washing their unclean liberal minds with a vex of facts. As they tense up or attempt to shift the discussion from apples to oranges, I lick my lips and declare my hunger for more.
As they retreat to the losers mantra that says politics or religion should never be discussed at a party, I ask them to step outside and join me while I howl at the moon.

Odd, they seem creeped out by that?

awareness said...

right-wing extremist? Try right-wing nutbar.


Ellen said...

That's the problems about extremists. They are so busy with their own agendas, they rarely have time to listen to a different point of view. And most figure if they shout the loudest, they are more right about the subject.

I'm all for listening to both sides and finding a happy medium, but usually get shouted out of the arena by the folks who feel their opinions hold more weight. It's not a losers retreat on my part... only a stepping away from hostility that will never see better light of day. It's hard to penetrate ideas with people who have already made up their minds about anything/ everything... and sometimes not worth the effort because you know they aren't listening in the first place.

Fantastic post! Shall we howl at the moon together?

awareness said...

There are times when I find myself at a party as well........when I'm talked over and verbally pushed to the wayside. It seems to happen more often with the academic left side of the continuum. My views and opinions are too conservative for their comfort zone. It drives me crazy!!

I'd love to howl at the moon........and I'll bring along my "not the saint" friend because his bark maybe right wing nutty, but man he's a passionate moon howler.....who will laugh and listen and debate with gusto.

Politics and religion, Anselm! Bring it on!