Extremely Extreme Extremists

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.

Extremists.

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.

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9 thoughts on “Extremely Extreme Extremists

  1. When I see the word “extremist,” used as a moral condemnation, I think of Aristotle. For Aristotle, our behavior is moral when we are moderate — avoiding the extremes. I think he gave the example of courage, by pointing out to be courageous means not being a coward, and also not being reckless when it comes to dealing with dangerous situations. When people say we should use moderation, they are referring to Aristotle, without typically being aware of his influence.

    I’m not sure if being an “extremist” is in and of itself bad. I doubt Einstein would have accomplished what he did without being an extremist when it came to doing physics. What’s bad about terrorism is not the extremism, but the violence.

    I suppose by arguing Islamic terrorists are extremists, we can lay some of the blame on the teachings of Islam. Saying that they are taking one interpretation to the extreme. There is some truth to this, but it should definitely not be used to demonize all Muslims. Muslims have widely divergent views, just like Christians, Hindus, Jews, atheists, and many others.

    What would it even mean to be at war with Islam? Would we declare “victory” after forcing all Muslims to convert? Would we “win” by banning Islam and freedom of religion?

    Our war is not with Islam, not with Muslims, not with extremists, but with evil people committing acts of violence. All of us, peaceful Muslims, atheists, Hindus, Jews, etc., should unite against such people. They do not represent Muslims, only violence.

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    1. Yes, we should unite against terror, and some of that does occur, only not enough. As for moderation, that is generally the way to go. It makes sense for religion, politics, even the food we eat. Now for your Einstein example, I don’t think “extremist” is the right word. He was passionate about his work, and he was driven. When it comes to living a productive life and accomplishing goals, then sure, you should be “extremely” focused and work “extremely” hard. You may even be “extremely” in love, like the characters of my “Heart” series. That’s all fine as long as the love is not unrequited. Then it’s creepy. 😉

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      1. I referenced Einstein because he is one of my all-time heroes, and I’m not entirely sure what Aristotle would have thought about his “extreme” dedication to science. I was trying to use him as an example of how a person could be “extreme” while still being virtuous. Not that Einstein was perfect, but he was overall an admirable person, and a damn genius in physics.

        We won’t unite against terror as long as we see some people as Other. Right now there is a blood-bath going on in Yemen, with the USA providing assistance to Saudi Arabia against an Iranian proxy government. I think US smart bombs were used to target a funeral procession of about 400 people, approximately a year ago, and that attack hardly made a blip across international media. If we can turn our backs on people being slaughtered around the globe, then how are we supposed to unite against terrorism? As Jews pointed out years ago in the story about Noah — one cannot save oneself while letting the world be destroyed. We can’t end terrorism, without first valuing people. Like banning all Muslims from the USA is not putting an end to terrorism but engaging in a form of terrorism ourselves. I can only imagine how little Muslim children living in the USA feel.

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  2. I think Islam is the problem and a devout Muslim who wishes to adhere to Allah’s explicit commandments in the Qur’an and hadith has to wage violent jihad. Every able-bodies young male who is able to do so is commanded to murder non-Muslims until we all submit to Islam and follow the sharia, Islamic law. What we would call extremism is required of devout Muslims. Of course this is a big problem for us, but it would be impossible to take the extremism out of Islam. And I don’t mind being called a crusader. I deplore the violence against the innocent enacted in some Crusades, but those were criminal crusaders whose acts repulsed the Pope. Those crusaders acting to save the Holy Land from the abuses, rape, robbery, and murder of innocents by the Muslim conquerors were heroes, and I stand with them.

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  3. the believers of every religion fall on a spectrum of belief, from total disbelief of everything the religion teaches to total acceptance of every tenet. thus, it is wrong to attack every muslim as if he were a criminal; instead, he should be treated according to his own behavior.

    as with any religion, one must examine islam to see what it teaches before we can draw any conclusions about it. once we have an idea what islam teaches, we can look at muslims to see where they fall on the spectrum of islamic belief. muhammed is considered to be al-insan al-kamil (the perfect man) and uswa hasana (the model of conduct); every muslim is required by islam to be as much like muhammed as possible. in islam, the quran is the word of allah, and *only* that word; it is what allah revealed to muhammed. there is no context in the quran; it is traditionally ordered roughly from the longest surah (chapter) to the shortest, not in chronological order. about 150 years or so after muhammed died, stories of him and the first muslims, called ahadith, were collected by muslim scholars. each such story (singular hadith, plural ahadith) has a reliability assigned to it, along with a chain of transmission from the person who first related it to the person who told the collector the story. collections of ahadith also have a reliability assigned to them. finally, ibn ishaq was the first to put a collection of ahadith into chronological order, or a biography of muhammed; it has been lost, but most of it has been retained in the works of ibn hisham and al-tabari. the three sets of works form the holy literature of islam, and that is where we should go to find out what islam teaches.

    rather than decide for U what U should think about islam, it is probably better to recommend that U go to the sources yourself. all islamic scriptures are readily available in english, and can be found on the internet. go look for yourself to see what islam teaches, and form your own conclusions.

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    1. I agree with you that Muslims are individuals, with widely divergent beliefs, so it is not right to demonize all Muslims, but, rather, we should judge any individual Muslim by their own thoughts and actions, and not on the thoughts and actions of other Muslims. I further agree with you that we should look at the actual writings of Islam to form a valid judgment of Islam. I have done so. I’ve read the Koran and Hadith collections, not in Arabic, but in English, and there are a number of hateful passages in Islam, which, if interpreted literally, call for mass murder of non-Muslims, and definitely the persecution of Jews and atheists.

      There is a physicist-Hindu, I can’t recall his name, but he actually came up with the same idea I had once regarding these hateful passages, which can be found in many religions, not just in Islam. The idea is to hold an event where every religion gets rid of every hateful passage within it that can be used to demonize others. So far, I don’t think official leaders of any religion ever took him up on the idea, but I would love to see it happen.

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