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Mainstream as “Extreme”

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When did the mainstream in America become the right wing “extreme”? When did the memo go out (and who sent it?) to begin portraying ordinary Americans with their parents’ values as space aliens bent on world domination or subversion of the democratic process?

What is it that defines their extremism or at least justifies the application of the label? Is it that their belief system is based on the recognition of something larger than themselves? Have we reached a point in our society at which anyone who believes that good and evil are real and that a just God exists or who doesn’t believe that their ancestors swung from trees is extreme?

Since this label largely appears in a political context, whose opinions or issue positions are usually branded as being extremist?

Is it someone who believes that the definition of marriage today should be the same as it was say fifty years ago? Or at a minimum, that democratically elected legislatures should make such decisions, not unelected judges?

Is it someone who believes that the Constitution should be applied to our government and society as written and originally understood by those who wrote and ratified it?

Is it someone who believes that just because a child has yet to exit from its mother’s womb it still has the right to live, (as opposed to whether or not its mother “wants” it to)?

What about people who believe that an effective government monopoly of primary and secondary education is no more desirable than having one for college education – and that the free market can do a better job of producing quality education at a more reasonable cost?

Are you extreme if you believe that the American people (via their government) have a right and a duty to defend themselves against terrorists? And that it’s OK to capture them (if you neglected to kill them) and lock them away in prison to prevent them from getting back into the terrorist game?

Is it extreme to think that there is such a thing as decency and that broadcasters should be required to avoid things like profanity and nudity, especially when children may be tuned in? Or what about believing that government schools shouldn’t be in the sex education business – much less undermining what parents try to teach their kids about the subject.

Would someone be extreme if he or she goes to church more than once a week? Perhaps even tithe? Or if he or she thought children should be allowed to pray in public schools? Or that the Boy Scouts shouldn’t be required to hire homosexual scout masters?

Perhaps people who prefer lower taxes are extreme – especially when they vote for politicians who work to keep them low and refuse to support those who don’t. Or what about those people who hold to the notion that the Second Amendment is still a valid part of the Constitution? Total wackos?

Are people extreme if they cling to the idea that when they buy a home it is theirs – and that it would be wrong for the government to take it away from them and give it to someone else who might pay more in taxes?

Since we can readily prove from history that these beliefs are not alien or “new,” at what point did they become “extreme”? What brought about this change in labeling? Could it have something to do with who does the labeling, (such as the press, liberals, Democrats, academic elites, the entertainment industry, etc.)? And why? Is it because their world view has changed in recent years and is somehow threatened by more dominant traditional values?

Call me crazy (or extreme) but it seems to me that the supposed “right wing extremists” have an awful lot in common with the people who founded this country. Which makes you wonder about the people who are calling them extremists, doesn’t it?

Edited: LI

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About Drew McKissick

Drew McKissick is a political consultant with over twenty-five years of experience specializing in political strategy, planning and organization as well as the development of grassroots related political action programs. He has worked as a political activist at the local, state and national levels, and has served in elected and appointed positions at all levels of the Republican Party, including serving as a member of the Republican National Committee. He also writes a regular column providing analysis and commentary on current events.
  • Nancy

    A lot of these ‘values’ are not exclusive to the so-called “extremists”; the rest of us hold them too. It’s just we don’t want to nor do we try to force them down everyone else’s throat. What makes an extremist extreme is that he or she believes that THEIR way is the ONLY way, and it ought to have the force of Law & be followed by all, whether they believe that way or not.

  • Maynard

    to define extreme crypto fascism: anyone that believes anything Ann Coulter says has any bearing on objective reality.

  • billy

    here is one example why you and your cohorts are extreme (there are too many innaccuracies to list).

    “who doesn’t believe that their ancestors swung from trees is extreme?”

    well, since 100% of all science proves this to be true, and since you consider “god” to be real in the face of no evidence and /or outright contradictions to everything the bible says. i would consider you extreme and out of touch.

    you my friend are beyond extreme. you are outright ignorant. no wonder the right has been labeled “regressive” and extreme. they are trying to still cling to long disproven notions of our ancestors.

  • http://WeMatter.com Mike Liveright

    I have been trying to develop some objective definitions of political words.

    see
    . http://wematter.blogspot.com/2005/05/definitions.html
    and
    . http://wematter.blogspot.com/2005/07/activist.html

    ———————————-

    Based on these, obviously the Goodly people are not extreme, e.g 10%-ers, though those on the left look at those who hold “Family values” as extreme where they want these values are made into laws.

    The

  • billy

    its all a matter of terminology.

    executing people in violation of the bible, torturing people, disowning your kids because they are born gay, molesting children in church, shock and awe, causing a child raped by her father to get his consent before she gets an abortion.

    im afraid those are NOT family values. those are extremists.

  • http://www.landofthefreehomeofthebrave.org/wp/ Margaret Romao Toigo

    The extremists are not the mainstream, they just claim that they are.

    Mainstream America is still mainstream America, the vast middle who believes that the principles laid out in our Constitution ought to be applied within the context of the present, not the past.

    Thinking that abortion is a vile thing is not an extreme idea. In fact, it is a mainstream idea. Outlawing abortion and therefore limiting womens’ right to self-determination is extremist.

    Mainstream folks are just as concerned about the content of television programs that children may see as the extremists are. However, the mainstream prefers a content warning/rating system to censorship.

    The mainstream accepts that the definition of marriage has been updated to accommodate the changes in gender roles that have occurred over the last 50 years. To want to turn back the clock on womens’ equality is extremist.

    The mainstream is still uncomfortable with the fact that some people are homosexual, but it is just as uncomfortable with discrimination against gay and lesbian people.

    The mainstream is ready to accept same sex “civil unions,” (with the same rights and responsibilities as civil marriage, except for the label) they just have a problem using the word “marriage” while recognizing gay rights.

    To be against civil unions is extremist. To promote discrimination against homosexuals is not only extremism, it is also a form of bigotry, according to the mainstream.

    It is mainstream to pray and go to church, especially Christian prayers/churches, though there are so many different varieties of Christians and Christian churches that none of them could be individually described as mainstream.

    Those who think that any sort of religion has a place in public education are extremists.

    The mainstream understands that if we don’t want other people telling us how to live and what to think then we must not try to tell other people how to live and what to think, even when we do not like how they live or what they think.

    The extremists are those who don’t want anyone telling them how to live and what to think because they believe that how they live and what they think is the only way to live and think and that anyone who disagrees with that is some sort of “extremist.”

  • billy

    margaret
    you said it better than I could. in essence what makes a right winger extreme is that not only are his views outside the mainstream

    i.e. wanting to reverse roe v. wade.

    but they take their views and try to apply them to all of society.

    then they try to reverse everything and make themselves the victim

    i.e., “those gays are trying to force gay marriage on me!”

    no they arent they want to get married and could care less whether you accept it or not. go ahead. be an extremist and dont accept it. you have no business or right to interfere with their happiness. that is extreme.

    a non-extremist, while they might disagree, lets other americans pursue happiness as they wish.

  • Maynard

    Margaret for President! We need more bright people like her around here, hell we need some of that brains in Congress. Now, where the hell is Gonzo when we need him?

  • http://www.bigtimepatriot.com Big Time Patriot

    “What about people who believe that an effective government monopoly of primary and secondary education is no more desirable than having one for college education – and that the free market can do a better job of producing quality education at a more reasonable cost?”

    Are you talking about our founding fathers? Wow, government provided education is kind of a basic thing that most people support. If you believe that Goverment should not provide schools for our children, I believe you are VERY MUCH IN THE MINORITY. Show me polls showing that most Americans want to get rid of public schools.

    I think this reflects the general flaw in your argument. Many of the things that you say I and many other Americans might agree with, but I don’t agree with your whole list and I’m sure many others don’t either. So when I say that getting rid of public schools is a crackpot extremist view, don’t pretend that I am calling all your other beleifs extremist. And the exact things on your list that others disagree with will vary by individual.

    So don’t try and make a long list and claim that every item is endorsed by every person. Thinking people think about issues on a case by case basis, the underlying beliefs may be basic, but how they apply to certain issues may vary widely.

    “Are you extreme if you believe that the American people (via their government) have a right and a duty to defend themselves against terrorists? And that it’s OK to capture them (if you neglected to kill them) and lock them away in prison to prevent them from getting back into the terrorist game?”

    Funny, I don’t remember ANY liberals or Democrats EVER saying this sentence was not okay. (Please link to quotes if you have evidence otherwise).

    On the other hand, if your implication is “our founding fathers, all too familiar with detention and torture without trial under colonial rule, SPECIFICALLY called for the rights to trials for people who are detained in America, but now, due to one attack on New York City we are abandoning that governing principle of American belief”. Well, I believe you have moved yourself off to the fringe that does not support American ideals, but only seems to support American soil. American lives have been lost to support American ideals such as the rights to trials, don’t make those peoples sacrifice meaningless by abandoning trials when times get a little tough. I believe this willingness to abandon our American belief system is only shared by a minority of Americans, unfortunately they include our current President and Attorney General.

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    And, the link is Coulter, so we pass on by…

    Dave

  • http://www.thebmrant.com Matt

    “Or at a minimum, that democratically elected legislatures should make such decisions, not unelected judges?”

    The unelected judges as you call them were upholding Florida laws; laws created by the democratically elected legislature you are so high on. Laws that said the husband (and you REALLY care about husbands, doncha Drew, except if the relationship had 2 husbands, right?) was in control of this.

    Why is it that you wingnuts are so worried about “protecting marriage”, but you wanted to shit all over he Schiavo one? Perhaps the marriage wasn’t much of one anymore, but legally, he was still the husband, and the decision was his.

  • http://www.landofthefreehomeofthebrave.org/wp/ Margaret Romao Toigo

    Playing the “victim card” is an old political/public relations ploy. The idea is to garner sympathy in order to distract the public from the intolerance, bigotry and other authoritarian nastiness that is being promoted in this manner.

    For example, “defending marriage” against homosexuals who are “attacking it” [by demanding that their right to it be recognized] is more palatable (and politically correct) than showing their true authoritarian colors.

  • Me

    “Would someone be extreme if they go to church more than once a week? Perhaps even tithe? Or if they thought children should be allowed to pray in public schools? Or that the Boy Scouts should be required to hire homosexual scout masters?”

    One of these does not belong with the others. Can you guess which? :p

  • http://homepage.mac.com/donfrancisco864/iblog/index.html alpha

    I had never heard of Ann Coulter before. In my 7 years living in the third world and 2 more only part time in the US in (Gasp!) Woodstock there were differences we had seen in the ’60s but I had no idea 2005 was so divided and the idea of America so distorted.

    When did FDR, Abraham Lincoln and JFK become space aliens allied against the Pat Buchanans and Tammy Lee Bakers?

    Our ancestors did not always swing from trees. Some had banana feasts and before that they lived in the water as one celled beings. Or whatever else Darwin began the study of after studying the Galapalagos.I, too, had trouble with Dawin and The Vogage of the Beagle but, al least I tried. Obviously some people haven’t even bothered to study Darwin and history. Oh, I forgot, history has been abbreviated to 6000 years and the rest of the books will be burned.

    I couldn’t be one of the extremists. I believe in Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But somehow I begin to surmise I am not in the majority.

    Should the Constitution be as written by slave holding male landholders or is it a beautifully written plan to grow and create an atmosphere of freedom and rights?

    The free market might make better schools, probably does but what about those who cannot afford Choate or Andover? Are they to suffer in some sub-standard religious fanatic school that hates books and science?

    We must defend against terrorism. But some intelligence would help in the battle. And we cannot lose freedom in the fight or it won’t have been worth it.

    Schools should not be in any business. They should be teaching and preparing children to live in the modern world. Should art galleries be censored because a fundamentalist child might walk in to study the art rather than testifying at the tent revival meeting?

    If there are people who want to go to church more than once a week (boring but their choice); why do they then need to pray in the same school that isn’t to be allowed to teach science or hygiene?

    Homes and secure titles against eminent domain for commercial purposes. I agree with that whole heartedly. Get rid of the rich Republican lawmakers that supported that one. For once I agree!

    “Since we can readily prove from history that these beliefs are not alien or �new,� at what point did they become �extreme�? What brought about this change in labeling? Could it have something to do with who does the labeling, (such as the press, liberals, Democrats, academic elites, the entertainment industry, etc.)? And why? Is it because their world view has changed in recent years and is somehow threatened by more dominant traditional values?” Labeling has changed and the culprits are “the press, academic elites…” Someone forgot Effete Eastern Intellectuals. Has our heroic, almost impeached, Richard Nixon been forgotten by the right?

    “Call me crazy (or extreme)…” OK. I agree whole heartedly with this Ann Couture yet again. She and her ideas do, as she promises, seem “crazy and extreme.”

    Dave Nalle in comment 10 did it much more succnctly than I when he wrote:

    “And, the link is Coulter, so we pass on by…”

  • http://www.bhwblog.com bhw

    When did the mainstream in America become the right wing “extreme”? When did the memo go out (and who sent it?) to begin portraying ordinary Americans with their parents’ values as space aliens bent on world domination or subversion of the democratic process?

    Drew, I pondered the same basic question shorly after last year’s presidential election.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    The right wing isn’t mainstream, but I think that here their spokesman is contending that some of the values they embrace – the so-called family values – are mainstream. And he’s right, except that their definition of family values and the mainstream definition are not exactly the same, especially on issues like gay families.

    Dave