“Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice. Moderation in pursuit of justice is no virtue.” ~ Bary Goldwater
Many know of this well-known quote from Barry Goldwater at the 1964 Republican Convention, but few remember Malcolm X’s arguing in its defense at Oxford University five months later.
Extremism is in the eye of the beholder, and it is certainly time sensitive. A moderate position yesterday may become an extreme position today. And who decides what is extreme?
A report in yesterday’s Military News outlines the issue very well:
“An unredacted memo released Wednesday by The House Judiciary Committee indicates the Biden administration’s FBI probe into radical traditional Catholic Groups was more extensive than previously acknowledged by the FBI.
FBI Director Christopher Wray testifying before Congress in July claimed the FBI’s investigation into Catholic groups was constrained to a single field office.
According to The Daily Caller, Wray’s testimony came following a memo released by the FBI whistleblower Kyle Seraphin that claimed Catholics who did not accept the Second Vatican Council could have an inclination toward anti-sematic, anti-immigrant, and anti-LGBTQ, and white supremacist Ideology. The memo was subsequently retracted.”
If one is a traditional or “charismatic Catholic, are they extreme? If one goes to daily Mass or is Pro-Life, are they extreme? One middle level government bureaucrat can create havoc in the lives of innocent citizens by casting the extremism label on an individual or a group of individuals. In my writings, I try to be careful to not call individuals extreme, but rather to point out that their position is extreme. This is becoming more difficult as factions are increasingly personalizing their arguments. This is not new. Think of the muckraker James Callender who exposed adulteress affairs—Hamilton with Mrs. Reynolds and Jefferson with Ms. Hemmings. Neither revelation added to the political debate or to the progress of the Republic.
Paint one person as being extreme and everyone who goes to that church or belongs to that organization automatically is extreme. It is easier to make the “boogeyman” argument than it is to make an argument based on reason and logic. In fact, reason and logic seem to be in short supply in today’s political dialogue.
It doesn’t have to be a government operative that creates a calumny and “bears false witness”. Individuals and groups are vilified every day by those in the media who create “straw man arguments” A straw man (sometimes strawman) fallacy is created by refuting the position under debate by creating a false position of the opponent’s argument, while purposefully not recognizing the distinction. It is easier to attack “the straw man” than it is to attack the position under debate.
Many times, when an individual’s character or veracity is attacked, especially by someone that carries the imprimatur of a professional credential—think JD., MD., government prosecutor, or large previously respected hospital system, it becomes impossible for the individual to defend themselves—they publicly “doth protest too much” and thus become a self-fulfilling characterization of themselves. Think of the people who have been attacked as being extremists recently in Idaho—Ryan Cole, Ammon Bundy, Dorothy Moon, and now Raul Labrador. Lumping all of them into one group is a tactic of the establishment operatives who worry about their positions and political leverage coming to an end. It is easier to attack and demonize an individual or group than it is to attack their arguments.
In the case of Dr. Ryan Cole could anyone have been more correct in his defining of the Covid danger, the measures that were needed to protect the most vulnerable, the progression of the disease, the “indications and efficacy of various treatment modalities”, the complications of lockdowns and mandates, while suggesting a path forward that in retrospect was 90%, correct? And yet the experts sitting on the Governor’s advisory panel, two MDs and a hospital administrator-lobbyist, —”experts”, who denounced him and a former Idaho Attorney General who published in an Idaho newspaper a call to have his medical license removed by the State Board of Medicine have never been held to account for the fallacies and calumny they created by their personal attacks on his professional credentials and character. Thank goodness wise members on the State Board of Medicine (Idaho is still Idaho at least for now) who saw through the political smoke screen.
A group called TAKE BACK IDAHO is rolling that same ball down the long hill of “faux outrage” against our Attorney General Mr. Raul Labrador. The headline on their WEB PAGE reads:
HELP TAKE BACK IDAHO FROM EXTREMISM
Please tell me TAKE BACK IDAHO. Am I extreme because?
- I am Catholic?
- Because I am Pro-Life
- Because I supported Covid strategies that I shared with well-respected medical and public health authorities like THE GREATER BARRINGTON PROJECT, Dr. Marty Markley from The Johns’ Hopkins Institute of Public Health, or Standford University Professors Dr. Jay Bhattacharya and Dr. Scott Atlas, or Mayo Clinic trained Dr. Ryan Cole?
- Because I believe and have the opinion that institutions that explicitly or implicitly support “transitional medical therapies” for patients under the age of 18 are not only violating the very tenants of the “Hippocratic Oath—first do no harm” but are on the edge of treading on informed consent rules when parents aren’t involved from the very first office visit in the required process of informed consent.
- I believe that those who call individuals and groups “extremists” because they have different views regarding political philosophy and policy are themselves extreme in making such a “straw man argument”. I believe they are irresponsible and lazy when they choose to call out individuals and groups as extremist, instead of making an argument against our positions in logic and reason.
Extremism is all in the eye of the beholder. What is extreme today may be mainstream tomorrow—and who the heck does (TBI) think they are to call anybody extreme? I don’t claim to have that prescient authority. I know and am personal friends with many on the (TBI) board. Of them I am reminded of a quote from Benjamin Franklin about John Adams:
“I am persuaded, however, that he (John Adams) means well for his country, is always an honest man, often a wise one, but sometimes and in some things, absolutely OUT OF HIS SENSES”
That’s the way to properly excoriate your political opponents. I may believe the positions of the (TBI) Board are “Extreme”, but I try to remain humble enough not to make such an omnipotent statement. I do believe that in taking the positions they have against Mr. Labrador—they are “absolutely out of their senses.”