Extremist is a funny word. From the adjective “extreme,” it somehow evolved to the noun form, now adopted and overused in the world of political correctness.
It began with Islamic extremists or fundamentalists, taking their religion to the extreme, which was a nice way of saying they focused on the violence. It stemmed from ideas like, “convert or die,” and vengeance for what they saw as injustice from the West for meddling in their affairs, in war, and “colonialism,” another powerful word these days.
But the word these “extremists” now use for Westerners is “Crusaders,” hardly a politically correct term. It’s like calling all Americans today “slave drivers” for the sins of their fathers, while clumping immigrants, first, second, third and fourth generations, right along with them. Naturally, immigrant families who arrived after slavery was abolished have no ties to the abhorrent practice. And for those who do, that was then, this is now. It’s hardly fair to be blamed for what others before us did, and the same goes for Crusaders.
On the Western front, we tiptoe around the issues, softening reality with weakened terms, while “Islamic extremists” take the opposite approach, using harsh words, emotional words, to intensify the hate.
Now we have removed “Islamic” from the term and simply say “extremist” because Muslims who want nothing to do with terrorists don’t want the name of their religion associated with these acts. It’s bad press after all.
So we are left with the naked word “extremist.”
As it happens, extremism is gaining momentum, not only among Islamic terror groups but in the world of causes. Across the board, people are taking their issues to the extreme.
Take feminism, for example. I used to call myself a feminist when I thought it was about equality. But now it is about superiority. And pro-choice has transformed from a tough decision often regretted for life, to today’s, “I wish I could have an abortion,” aborting nearly full-term babies, and convincing women to abort their babies rather than giving them up for adoption so their body parts can be sold.
It has also turned into, “your cause is my cause” with Linda Sarsour and her ilk introducing the Palestinian cause to feminism, which has resulted in a growing anti-Semitism within the ranks and further pushing former liberal Jews to the conservative side.
The same is happening among gay rights activists, as Times of Israel blogger Marika Stein so eloquently points out in her article entitled, “Will I have to be afraid?” about anti-Semitism at the Chicago Dyke March.
Progressivism is no longer open-minded but narrow-minded. Free speech only applies to the Left while dissenting opinion is shut down.
Black Lives Matter went from peaceful protests to calling for the murder of cops to killing cops.
Anti-Trump demonstrators became rioters and looters, and celebrities killing the president in effigy turned into someone shooting and attempting to murder Republicans.
A friend of mine used to say that once a group meets the objective, the job is over. The next move is to search for a new gripe to keep it going, to take it to the extreme. It progresses from, “I am against this,” or, “this is not fair,” to, “I hate you,” to, “I want to kill you,” to actually killing.
What does “extremism” really mean? Taking a cause to the extreme. And what exactly is that extreme? Hatred and violence.
You see, it really doesn’t matter whether the hatred is on the Left or the Right, from terrorists or from anti-Semitic social justice warriors. Hate is extreme, and hate leads to violence. When tensions are high, we tend to fight one extreme with another.
In the end, nothing is solved.
D.M. Miller is the author of the interfaith “Heart” series as well as the poetry collection, Dandelion Fuzz and the memoir, Half-Jew: Searching for Identity. The product of an interfaith marriage herself, Miller’s work explores the difficult themes of religion, politics, ethnicity, culture, family, ancestry and love. See her books on Amazon.