Carnes: Extremists will kill us all, and soon! Well, maybe not (column)
It’s the language for extremists of all stripes, using extreme exaggeration to scare the gullible masses into doing their bidding, which in most cases is either to buy a product or elect a candidate.
Today it comes from social media sites such as Facebook and the Drudge Report; and from media outlets such as CNN and TrumpTV (some people refer to it as Fox News, but that’s just a simple cliche nowadays).
The National Rifle Association is a perfect example: “Many in legacy media love mass shootings …,” said NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch, “… crying white mothers are ratings gold.” They use jingoistic sophistry to panic the fleeceable public into buying their product.
Nancy Pelosi is another, calling the GOP tax plan “the worst bill in the history” of the U.S. Congress. She uses sensationalistic rhetoric to rally the naive into thinking one size fits all when it comes to government.
An example that fits both cases is President Donald Trump himself: “My IQ is one of the highest — and you all know it. Please don’t feel so stupid or insecure; it’s not your fault.” He used hyperbole to get elected and continues using it today to sell “all things Trump.”
They are a minority but everywhere, they always want something in return for their opinions, and we sadly have our proportionately fair share of the close-minded, self-righteous right here in Happy Valley.
Admit it, you know a few.
Extremists on the right want you to believe a sign exclaiming “armed personnel in this building” will deter a shooter from entering.
Extremists on the left want you to believe a sign exclaiming this is a “gun-free zone” will do the same.
The 98 percent of us in the middle (known as moderates) don’t believe a sign will deter any mentally unstable individual with a weapon from walking through the front door. Their intentions, while always debatable after the fact, are usually based upon a death wish of revenge for a self-perceived injustice, and in most instances they get their wish.
No matter how well-written or what font is used, signs don’t do diddly.
Extremists possess zero mutual respect for the other side, for if one made the attempt it would immediately be interpreted as a sign of weakness by the other. Their views are a never-ending zero-sum game, one in which the rest of us pay the price.
They see most everything through a polarizing black or white filter, and are convinced they are always correct and therefore any contrarian thought is wrong. Anger is the go-to expressed emotion, rarely able to argue their case in a calm, reasoned manner.
I suppose it is a way of coping with personal fear, but what should concern us is the point at which an extremist be considered a psychopath and handled appropriately.
Whether it is religion, politics or sports, extremists will always be a part of life we have to deal with on a regular basis.
While their actions sometimes deserve a response, we’re usually safe ignoring their hyperbolic words.
Richard Carnes, of Edwards, writes weekly. He can be reached at email@example.com.