Extremism – Not What You Might Think It Means

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It really annoys me when people use the term ‘extremist’ to identify somebody who merely thinks differently from them.  I expect it to come from liberals, but when it comes from conservatives, that’s another story.  You’d think that conservatives would understand since they happen to be labeled by liberals as ‘extremists’ all the time and tend to be the butt of anti-extremist jokes.  Yet, somebody I know uses the term very loosely.

From all my academic studies, I have come to the conclusion an extremist, well… goes to extremes, like killing people in the name of their god or using fear, manipulation, intimidation and sex to censor people or change their views.  Yet, our secularist world has taken away the meaning of ‘extremist’ just as they have done the same with other words like ‘racist’, ‘bigot’, ‘hater’ and so on and so forth.

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As much as conservatives annoy me sometimes, I never call them ‘extremists’.  If anything they’re very weak on issues they need to stand up for, even the ones they claim to stand up for; this has been the lamentation of conservative radio talk hosts like Mark Levin who see the GOP overrun with liberal Republicans and others who resort to much the same character assassination their Democratic opponents do.  You have conservatives like Sean Hannity who even disrespect priests for their views on ethics they personally find to be too much to handle, and this is one of those by the way the person I mentioned above watches.

So, bottom line is an extremist is somebody who flies planes into buildings, executes people for refusing to convert, sexually abuses non-believers, or advocates such horrendous deeds.  An extremist is not somebody who believes in a set code of ethics or a particular religion is true yet nevertheless never seeks to force their beliefs on other people through harassment, violence, sex, fear, manipulation or intimidation.  Those are contrary to Christianity, specifically Catholicism.  That’s what makes us different; we continue to uphold the faith but we tolerate others for what they do, say and believe; we are not of the world but we live in the world and as long as that is the case we must accept that we live amongst those who oppose us.  This world is meant for evangelizing anyway.  We’re not called to make a utopia on Earth and there is no way for us to because of free will; we cannot force others to accept our message and we as Christians acknowledge that.  Other ideologies, i.e. Islam, Nazism and communism, do have the goal of creating a utopia or Heaven on Earth which is why they create very oppressive laws to enforce their will upon others.

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This is a form of extremism.

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This is another form of extremism.

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Then, there’s this one.

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Not to mention this one (minus the Bin Laden poster).

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This one too, go figure.

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This is not extremist.  It’s beautiful; it’s loving; it’s peaceful.

Even Our Lord Jesus Christ was accused by being an extremist by the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the scribes and the chief priests.  They took His actions in the Temple court and His statement of tearing down the Temple and rebuilding it in three days literally and so they proceeded to prosecute Him.  He tells us, “The servant is not greater than his master. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you” (John 15:20).

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