The word “extreme” seems to have dropped quite a ways since the ’90’s, when that was exactly what every advertisement was selling.
Maybe it’s the Boomers?
But I doubt that Boomer reaction to Mentos-fueled Gen Xers has much to do with “extremist” becoming a go-to term of condemnation in the media lately.
Maybe it started as a way to sound like you weren’t blaming all Muslims by saying the World Trade Center attack in 2001 was carried out by extremist Muslims? It’s possible; maybe the start of this trend was in journalists trying to do a good thing.
But, whoo boy, is it getting bad lately.
“extreme” + time = “normal”
I guess these journalists have forgotten that every advance in society must, by definition, start out as an “extreme” position.
Abolition of slavery, votes for women, even votes for folks don’t own land: all of these were until quite recently “extremist” political views. Today, of course, they’re all totally mainstream (though amazingly, they’re still not universally accepted; really).
Sometimes it’s good to be extreme.
It’s not a good thing to be “normal”, when “normal” means “owning other people” or “only rich dudes can vote”.
And there are still a lot of things about our society that are wrong enough that I support “extreme” views on them. I could name hundreds. Hell, the whole reason I set up this blog is for me to do exactly that.
And I’ll bet each and every one of you hold some views that many people would call “extreme”.
Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.Barry Goldwater
Now, I’m no fan of Barry Goldwater (and I’d take issue with the details of what he meant specifically by “liberty” and “justice” there) but in this he was not wrong.
I’d go a bit further, though, and generalize it as:
Extremism in the defense of virtue is no vice.me, and everyone else who mis-remembers this quote
When the general attitude in society is wrong, then you have to be extreme to be right.