We are seeing a lot of people or groups being denounced these days for “extremism” or “extremist rhetoric.” As Ayn Rand pointed out long ago, in her article “Extremism” or The Art of Smearing, holding an extreme position is not immoral. It is only the substance of the position one holds that can be good or evil. To be extreme in one’s position merely means one is being consistent – and it is this consistency that is being denounced, whether the people using the label realize it or not. The implication is that only “moderates” (another anti-concept) are good, while the “extremists” are evil. And what does being a “moderate” actually mean? Pragmatism.
If “extremism” is by definition immoral, than all laissez-faire capitalists are immoral. All advocates of inalienable rights are immoral. We are being equated with the murderers of al Qaeda, and the irrational religionists of the conservative movement – because we are “extreme” in our defense of individual rights, just as they are extreme in their quest to murder all who will not submit, or in their advocacy of creationism.
I don’t know if all of those using the smear label “extremist” realize what it implies. If not, they should examine the issue more closely, and use language more precisely.