Since the topic of political “extremism” is on everyone’s mind, I may as well get this out there.
I’m an extremist.
I’m an extremist for Western Civilization.
I’m an extremist for the legacy of the value of the individual that comes from the Judeo-Christian tradition.
I am a zealot for that civilization’s rejection of group guilt for the sins of the individual.
I am a full blown foot soldier for the idea that rights – freedom of expression, conscience, innocence until proof of guilt, and defending my life, family, home, freedom and community – are all indivisible parts of being human, not “privileges” granted to you by a benevolent government (and taken away by a less-benevolent one).
I am a militant (intellectually speaking, and here’s hoping it can stay that way) for the notion that “citizenship” means having all the powers, rights and responsibilities of government, allowing me (and you!) to govern a society together, regardless of (indeed, ignoring completely) the rest of our various identities.
I’m a howling berserker (again, purely intellectually, here) for the free markets of ideas as well as goods, which has made this civilization the most humane human system in all of history.
I am a full-blown crusader for the tolerance of dissent, and indeed exaltation of informed criticism of and dissent from our rulers, our laws, and indeed the imperfections of Western Civilization itself that our civilization, pretty much alone among all the world’s cultures through history, invented – as well as for the ability to tolerate, learn from, and co-exist with other cultures as equals in the eyes of God and the law…
…while keeping, living by, and proselytizing the parts of our civilization that have made it the system in human history that has most effectively and systematically upheld the dignity and value of human life, even with all its (amply studied) imperfections.
I’m a stormtrooper for the ideal that these freedoms, exaltations, values and traditions are not zero sum propositions; that taking freedom away from someone doesn’t give you more.
I’m a flag-waving militiaman for the imperative to spread those freedoms to as many people in the world as want them – and, if needed, defend them from those who don’t.
For those things, I’m an extremist. A peaceful one, one that welcomes both agreement and civil disagreement.
But I’m absolutely an extremist. You can have my Western Civilization when you pry it from my cold, hand – and you will spend an eternity trying to pry it from my hot, living soul, and failing.
“Extremism in the defense of freedom is no vice, and moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue”
— Barry Goldwater.