In 1964, at the Republican National Convention in San Francisco, Republican Presidential Candidate Barry Goldwater stated in his acceptance speech that “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no Vice” and that “Moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.” When it comes to defending freedom, liberty and supporting the causes that I believe in, I must confess that I am an extremist. However, one thing that I am not, nor will I ever be, is a fanatic. There is a big difference.
Over the years, I have seen individuals devoted to certain causes that they have professed to care about be consumed by it all to the point of insanity. When that has happened, they forgot their humanity, their manners, their civility and their behavior. For example, they have cut themselves off to those around them, and have treated those who have disagreed with hostility and malice. To members of their own family, they have disowned those who have dared disagree with his or her views. They have closed their minds and hearts to those about them that all they hear is themselves and nothing more. And, yes, some have engaged in violence with those whom did not see it their way.
I have seen this with both the anti-abortion and the abortion-rights movement. I have seen it on college campuses with students using shout downs and violence toward speakers and others who have disagreed with their beliefs. I have seen it with those in the Hollywood Community where if you not toe the progressive line, you will be smeared, character assassinated, and prevented from working in that town. I have seen it with labor unions, where members have smeared, ridiculed and have assaulted individuals that did not share their views. I have seen fanaticism poison civility many a time. I have even seen fanaticism destroy many a good and worthy cause.
Extremism is a good and is needed in every endeavor. That cannot be denied. However, extremism must always be tempered with humanity, civility, decorum, humility and care.