In my younger days, a radical was someone whose views were well outside of the mainstream of traditional thought, and an extremist was someone whose views were even farther afield than those of a radical. Consequently, it is a little disconcerting for me to hear conservatives labeled by liberals as extremists. After all, those of us who wear the conservative brand are the standard bearers of traditional thought. Unlike liberals, our belief system does not change like the weather. We believe in a set of unchanging values that are foundational in our lives, values that transcend changes in socio-cultural mores, technological developments, and political thought. This being the case, why is the Obama administration making such an effort to label conservatives as extremists?
If you pay attention to the pointedly provocative words used by President Obama and his henchmen to describe those who oppose his bedrock issues—abortion, same-sex-marriage, unlimited spending, an ever-increasing debt ceiling, and Obamacare—you would think they were talking about international terrorists. In fact, according to Katie Pavlich (Townhall, November, 2013), “When it comes to dirty politics, the White House and its allies in Congress are more than willing to liken their fellow Americans to suicide bombers, anarchists, and arsonists…” To make her point, Pavlich quotes Nancy Pelosi as referring to Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives as “legislative arsonists,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid referring to his Republican colleagues as “tea party arsonists,” and White House Senior Strategy and Communications Advisor Dan Pfeiffer referring to Republicans as “people with a bomb strapped to their chest.”
Vitriolic rhetoric in politics is nothing new. In fact, historians will tell you that what we read and hear today in political discourse is actually mild when compared with the rhetoric that was commonplace in the hey-day of yellow journalism. Thin-skinned President John Adams is scorned by historians for trying to curb journalistic license by introducing the Alien and Sedition Acts—as he should be—but read what was printed about him in the newspapers of the day and you will at least grant him a measure of grace on the subject. Having said this, I think comparing conservatives and Republicans to terrorists who murder innocent women and children and then proudly brag about it is a little much. The rhetoric the Obama administration regularly aims at those who disagree with his policies is inaccurate, unjust, and irresponsible. In fact, I think it surpasses the worst of what was written back in the bad old days of yellow journalism.
President Barack Obama was elected in 2008 in part because he pledged to bridge the great divide between Democrats and Republicans, a divide that was growing as the result of partisan bickering. Americans have learned the hard way how to interpret President Obama’s promises: listen to what he promises and then expect the opposite. Hence, my first reaction to his over-the-top rhetoric aimed at those of us who disagree with his policies is to simply ignore anything he and his henchmen say. But in this era of terrorism—an era in which Americans no longer feel safe in an airplane, a movie theater, a shopping mall, a school, or even in their own beds at night—hearing an American president label fellow Americans who disagree with him as terrorists is hard to take.
I will give Kathie Pavlich the last word on this subject: “When it comes to dirty politics, the White House and its allies in Congress are more than willing to liken their fellow Americans to suicide bombers, anarchists and arsonists, all while negotiating with real terrorists who have made it their mission to kill Americans and those associated with the western world.” Shame on Barack Obama and the toadies in his administration who are willing to stoop so low in the name of partisan politics. Who are the real extremists here?