By Jim Koury, Editor, Diversity Rules Magazine
© 2012 Diversity Rules Magazine. All rights reserved.
Anyone that knows me is surely aware that I can be somewhat of a political animal in addition to being a queer activist. I am an unabashed Obama supporter and believe fervently in what the Democratic Party represents. I make no bones about where I stand on issues and what I believe. Some have actually called me an extremist because I so vociferously defend and maintain a very liberal outlook on life – both socially and politically.
Clearly, being called an extremist was not meant as a compliment! Regardless, I wear the label proudly, without hesitation. I will always defend liberalism and what it represents to my dying day with unyielding zeal and passion. But really, when it comes down to it, while I may be vocal and express very liberal opinions often and freely, I am certainly far from being an extremist in the pejorative sense of the word.
Dictionary.com defines extremism as: 1) (n) a person who favors or resorts to immoderate, uncompromising, or fanatical methods or behavior, especially in being politically radical; and 2) (adj) of, relating to, or characterized by immoderate or excessive actions, opinions, etc.
If one reads into the above definition a bit more, it essentially denotes an unwillingness to listen, to take into consideration the opinions of others (immoderate, uncompromising). It also denotes an openness to undertake subversive or militant actions (fanatical methods or behavior) to prove a point, win an argument, or gain power at all costs. I can assure those who call me an extremist with utmost confidence that I am not immoderate and uncompromising and do not support subversive or militant actions (although I would love to see some good old fashioned street protests in the spirit of Harvey Milk – but that is another blog post). I am simply a stalwart defender of the 1st Amendment right of free speech and believe that the health of a democracy is dependent upon the free expression of opinion by its citizens, whether it be silently in the voting booth, picketing, or through postings on social networking sites and other similar media outlets.
I take to heart a quote by Aristotle that I learned from my dear friend Ace Lundon – “It is the mark of an educated mind to entertain a thought without accepting it.” While I may be sometimes aggressive in the expression of my opinions and will highlight the deficiencies in a political adversary, it certainly does not mean that I wish to silence them or be so extreme as to shut down expression of opinions that may differ from mine. I simply wish to get people thinking. People do not think for themselves much anymore. It is my objective and primary focus, while at the same time supporting my position, to get people to think and ask questions about their own positions and belief systems. My objective is not to get you to think like I do, but simply to think!
Barry Goldwater said, “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.” I wholeheartedly agree! If we remain silent, and do not express ourselves and take action to right wrongs in our society, there will be no liberty for anyone. America was founded by extremism! Our forefathers took up arms and defended liberty and freedom and removed the shackles of bondage from a repressive colonial power, England. If it were not for the extremism of our colonial ancestors, where would we be today?
My extremism is grounded in the defense of liberty! It is grounded in the belief that all citizens of this country are equal and entitled to all the rights and benefits that this country offers. It is grounded in the belief that women should have the power of choice over their own bodies and to decide when and if to have a child. It is grounded in the belief that everyone should have an equal chance at success. It is grounded in the belief that the rich should pay their fair share in support of programs to help those in need.
We have a political party and a candidate running for President that is the antithesis to what America is all about. The GOP under the mantle of Mitt Romney is a serious threat to our democratic freedoms and will usher in a plutocratic and theocratic government of the rich and powerful and those with extreme religious beliefs that wish to impose those beliefs on everyone else. This election is far too important to simply hope for the best and sit quietly on the sidelines. I refuse to succumb to calls to be less vocal and not zero in on the positions of opposing political positions.
So am I an extremist in the traditional sense? Most likely not, Am I an extremist in the defense of liberty and a defender of what America is supposed to be? I surely am! My methods and my mode of expression and working toward liberty and truth may not be the path someone else chooses to forge. However, it is my path, my decision but in the end we are all working toward the same objective — personal liberty and freedom to live our lives unfettered by religious fanatics and political extremists who wish to take rights away instead of granting and expanding them!
Extremism in the defense of liberty is not a vice! Remember that, hold it near and dear to your hearts and have no hesitation to defend what is right and just in your own way.