No corner on extremism
(Akron Beacon Journal) In her Nov. 23 commentary on President Bush’s views of his critics and legacy, Kathleen Parker made a very bold claim. She said that his assertion that killing Osama bin Laden will never end extremism, only ”free societies will,” was ”surely true.” True, killing bin Laden will never end extremism, but will free societies fare any better?
I agree that radical Islamic fundamentalists who blow themselves up are extreme. But I also believe that the fundamentalist Christians who blew up abortion clinics in the early 1990s were also extreme. We should not forget that this extremism occurred in our own free society of America. While I’m not here to pass judgment on whether it’s wrong to have beliefs so strong that one is willing to kill for them, I am hoping to show the more disturbing aspect of Bush’s statement.
The president has implied that one form of society is more likely to breed extremism than another. We need to remember that extremism is related to time and place, and that no one religion, country, economic system or voting style intrinsically breeds extremism. Let us not forget that Adolf Hitler was voted into office in a free election in a free society. Let us be mindful that the Weathermen bombed ROTC buildings in the early 1970s, protesting (in extreme fashion) the very society that Bush contends will end extremism.
We can’t allow ourselves to believe that bringing democracy and freedom to a nation will end terrorism and extremism. This viewpoint is naive and dangerous, and simply leads to the erroneous assumption that free societies don’t have radicals bent on destruction.
I suppose it makes people in free societies feel better to call members of the Ku Klux Klan ”states’ rights activists.” Does this also mean that once we bring ”free societies” to the Middle East, al-Qaida can be called ”people with religious conviction”?
Simply changing the style of government that a nation has only leads to a change in labels and -isms. What is really needed is a change in consciousness, which begins by acknowledging that all people are capable of extremism. By holding the mirror up and understanding ourselves first, we might finally begin to understand extremism in those we like to call ”the others.” After all, if extremists all have one thing in common, it’s that they’re all human.
With presidential candidates Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson making a strenuous appeal to certain religious constituencies, it sounds a lot like righteousness masquerading as good government. When the two get mixed, we get neither.
How stupid do they think the rest of us are?
S. Joseph Krause
In response to Bob Dyer’s Nov. 13 column replying to criticism of him by the Rev. John R. Beaty (” ’Racist’ tag easy to apply”): The race card does not need to be played, when we all know it is already in the deck and being played on a daily basis.
We all know Tyree Feaster was thrown to the wolves, in that he is now housed in an adult prison. I firmly believe that if he had done as he was told by the system, he would have been released and would be dead by now. I am not justifying what Feaster did, or if he did what he was accused of, but he should have the chance to be rehabilitated and not thrown away.
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