Why do movements move to the extremes? Easy. They must keep their base animated and there is no penalty for them.
- Craig Howell, Pioneering Gay Activist and Former President of GLAA, DC.
We live in a polarized world and judging from historical events differences in priorities and methods, along with mistrust, even resentment, of those we disagree with, we can only fail to take note, it ain't over 'til it's over. The battles go on and on with some folks caring more than others as they seek recourse for their concerns.
- Gordon Binder, long time District of Columbia resident, having spent his career in the environmental field and an artist by avocation.
An effective negotiator will establish clear goals. This is step one. When those goals are accomplished, the negotiation is deemed a success. The negotiator then moves on to implementing the agreement or focusing on another issue.
This process should include advocacy groups (AG). Regrettably, many AG fail to set their goal so they never know when it is accomplished. Thus, they keep negotiating and fighting until they move into extremes. They then lose their base. They become “a fringe” element, still negotiating and fighting silly battles.
AG often start out revealing an injustice or unfairness of some group or some situation. When explained, the reasonable person (RP) will at least appreciate, if not understand. But the AG often fail to state their goal. So, even after progress is made and steps are taken, the AG keeps pushing, keeps negotiating, keeps fighting…. By pushing the extremes, the AG then loses credibility and often sets the stage for a backlash.
Beyond not having clear goals, there may be other reasons that advocates fall or move into extremism.
Maybe advocates have extreme personalities?
Maybe they do not distinguish between activism and advocacy?
Maybe they cannot distinguish between fighting and negotiating?
Examples of Advocates Moving Into Extremism
Gays and Lesbians: (LGBTIQ+ will be referred to as gay in this Blog Entry)
This ongoing movement started out with basically gays and lesbians. Then they moved to include “Trans” and “Queers” and “Questioning,” and “Intersex." Thus, one has the moniker: LGBTIQ+.
What about pansexual?
What about cisgender?
Cisgender describes a person whose gender identity corresponds to their sex assigned at birth. The word cisgender is the antonym of transgender. The prefix cis- is Latin and means on this side of.
Cis, short for cisgender (pronounced sis-gender, or just sis), is a term that means whatever gender you are now is the same as what was presumed for you at birth.
Now, even national gay advocate Andrew Sullivan is poking fun of the “alphabet soup” of this ever evolving, ever-changing group.
Seeking gay rights in the workplace, housing, adoption and even marriage eventually made sense to a majority of Americans.
But now, they push to the extremes:
-They demand that a florist who does not believe in gay equality design their wedding flowers.
-They demand that a baker who does not believe in gay values, bake their cake.
-“Trans” people comprise less than 1% of the US population, but if one reads gay media, it looks as if they are ½ of the population.
So, at first, this movement focused on a fairness of a minority. There were successes, such as gay marriage and adoption, but then they move to the silly extremes and become the topic of jokes.
In the meantime, negotiating fairness in employment nationwide falls to the wayside.
Democratic Party: During the Depression, World War II, and the 1950’s, the party had the support of the poor because they seemed to be advocating for the poor in regards to minimum wage, Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, and unions.
In the 1960’s, the party seemingly moved away from the poor to racial justice. Initially, for most reasonable people (RP), this made sense. Today, United States has a former Black President, present black Vice President, former black attorneys general, and two blacks of the 9 U.S. Supreme Court Justices.
Most Americans agree that removing the Confederate flag made sense, or renaming Jefferson Davis-named-roads.
But now, for most folks they have moved to the extremes:
Removing statues of Woodrow Wilson, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson et al., is one example.
The troubling case of Thomas Jefferson: Most Americans recognize the contradictions of Jefferson’s life. He was egalitarian such as establishing public education for all but his views at that time, did not cross the color line. Most Americans do not disparage or dismiss him. Most Americans view him in totality.
Wall Street Journal Writer Jack N. Rakove offers:
…the act of moral judgment comes all too easily when we scrutinize the past. The great challenge of thinking historically is not to find heroes and villains but to explain why previous generations acted as they did and to understand their complexities and contradictions. (The Contradictions of Thomas Jefferson, WSJ, Jul2-3, 2022.)
Jefferson's words in the Declaration of Independence: …all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights…have become our political creed.
Most Americans view Jefferson as a genuine egalitarian AND a participant in the evils of slavery.
Tearing down Jefferson statues and removing his name from streets, etc. is not the will of most Americans. These issues are not really negotiated so this extremism produces a backlash.
Most RP did not agree and many believe this set the stage for rise of Donald A. Trump, a TV show host, to become president. His main support came from those who felt left out, the aggrieved, the poor white folks. (This was described in J.D. Vance’s book, Hillbilly Elegy; albeit, he is not emphasizing this approach in his campaign to become Ohio U.S. Senator.)
Now, the party becomes the focus of many jokes.
Some District of Columbia NPR WAMU listeners believe that this station has gone the way of the Democratic Party. They say they used to listen to WAMU to get a neutral perspective on the issues of the day. Some now say that WAMU’s whole world seems to be minority groups.
Political Correctness (PC) Became Wokeness. This PC movement made sense to most when explained.
- If Homosexuals want to be called “gay,” then what is the harm in doing so?
- If African-Americans desire to be called “black,” then do so.
- If a wife or husband desire to be called “partner,” then….
- Divorce has become “conscious uncoupling.”
- Women are called “people with vaginas,” or “birthing people.” Recently, Bette Midler got in trouble over a tweet when she called “women” “women.”
- Over 160 teachers have been fired or quit during the past two years over hot-button issues involving “wokeness.” (The Hill, 4/21/22, Teacher Shortage: The staffing crisis has permeated all levels of the profession, creating vacancies in nearly all capacities. National Education Association’s (NEA) president Becky Pringle, who said in February the current exodus represents a “five-alarm crisis.”)
-Minnesota U.S. Senator Al Franken resigned over an old video showing his hands hovering over the breasts of a sleeping co-worker (no actual touching). New York US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi were appalled. Really? Now, he regrets the resignation. Most likely Gillibrand regrets it also since this was one factor to her doing so poorly in her presidential run for the Democratic nomination.
But, of course, this advocacy group, without goals, keep pressing and in so doing they lose credibility of the majority and become the focus of many jokes.
PC became “wokeness.” For some, the moment they meet a person, they explain their “Pronouns.”
This extreme use of Political Correctness is closely connected to “Cancel Culture.”
Cancel culture or call-out culture is a phrase contemporary to the late 2010s and early 2020s used to refer to a form of ostracism in which someone is thrust out of social or professional circles – whether it be online, on social media, or in person. Those subject to this ostracism are said to have been "cancelled."
Woke Madness: Political commentator Douglas Murray opines on corporations buying into this woke madness. He describes the Halifax Bank who is putting pronouns on the employee badges along with the names to avoid “accidental mis-gendering.” He wonders, is this “woke camouflage” or “virtue signaling” to divert attention from their corporate failures?
Abortion Advocacy Groups: Both sides of this explosive issue seem to live in the extremes. So, the so-called pro-life movement has overturned the 50 year-old Supreme Court decision of Roe v. Wade. Approximately as of this date, 18 states are moving to stop abortions, but they have to go many steps further:
- Criminalizing abortions.
- Criminalizing those who help abortions (Example, Oklahoma GOP)
- Trying to stop women from traveling to get abortions.
- Legislation that would increase reporting about abortion pills.
- Investigating miscarriages in case they are abortions.
- Starting research on text message and online research as evidence vs women facing criminal charges, aka “thought crimes?”
- Will they soon be discussing “spilling the seed” as a crime while quoting the Bible:
When Onan had sex with Tamar, he withdrew before he ejaculated and "spilled his seed on the ground" thus committing coitus interuptus, since any child born would not legally be considered his heir. The next statement in the Bible says that Onan did evil and that God slew him.
This pro-life movement has now lost a vast majority of Americans.
Now, according to the Washington Post, Americans view both sides as too extreme.
Gun AG: This is another explosive topic. Generally, gun owners can be viewed as “reasonable people.”
According to www.researchgate.net, rates of firearm ownership among American veterans are higher than for the general public for both males and females. Nearly half of male veterans (47 %) and one-quarter of female veterans own firearms, compared with 32 % of males and 12 % of females in the general population
For those who desire guns, the reasons seem to be hunting and protection. It would seem reasonable for these gun owners to clearly identify which guns are necessary to accomplish those purposes.
Military style weapons are not included and the majority of Americans agree. Minorities are protected in this American democracy, but in this case the majority should rule. Regrettably on this issue, with the gigantic NRA lobby, the minority has captured the decision-makers.
There is a small subset of gun advocates who simply enjoy collecting and comparing, much like celebrity Jay Leno collects cars.
Most Americans do not agree that there is a Constitutional right to bear arms. For decades Constitutional scholars and the U.S. Supreme Court construed the Second Amendment to be about state militia to guard against the encroachment of the federal government. The SCOTUS majority, 5-4, led by former Justice Antonio Scalia got it wrong in the Heller case.
Justice John Paul Stevens got it right reflecting the American majority view:
“District of Columbia v. Heller, which recognized an individual right to possess a firearm under the Constitution, is unquestionably the most clearly incorrect decision that the Supreme Court announced during my tenure on the bench,” he wrote in The Atlantic in May. In 2008, Stevens wrote the principal dissent in the 5–4 decision, strongly arguing that the Second Amendment only protected a collective right to bear arms as part of militia service.
Christian Nationalism Movement
So, here is another movement that at first glance seems logical: Protecting religious beliefs. But then it moves to extremes, including book banning.
When did this movement start? Maybe it began the moment Europeans set foot on American soil. They had a creed. They thought they got their messages from God. Look how they treated Native Americans and African slaves. They viewed White Nationalism as "The Way."
This movement has always been percolating, but Ronald Reagan gave it voice stating that he endorsed Christian Nationalism.
Former President Donald Trump set this movement on fire stating that Christianity was aggrieved and under attack. They must organize and fight back. And, organize they did, especially at the local level with school boards, elections boards, etc. They invested in the local political infrastructure.
At first these Christian beliefs make sense; that is, that Christians should not be attacked or ridiculed, but soon this advocacy moved to extreme activism believing they are the force for good vs forces of evil. So any action can be rationalized including the attack on the U.S. capitol on January 6th. They believe that God choose Trump, so they must save American from pluralistic democracy.
Among White Christians, about 33% believe slightly this way.
- 25% are the rejecters or the resisters.
- 50% are are the accommodators.
- 33% are the ambassadors - the true believers.
On the surface this appears to be local activism, but not really. It is lead by organizations such as the Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation. This whole movement against teaching Critical Race Theory emanated from these organizations with playbooks being sent to thousands of schools. People such as Tony Perkins, Michael Farris, and Ralph Reed have been organizing for years.
CN may be the biggest threat to democracy. The counter is widening the aperture of Christian advocacy and realizing that black Christians have used advocacy for years to stop lynching and to acquire the right to vote for blacks.
Some folks cite Jeffrey Tucker of the Brownstone Institute as the source for many of the fake news stories about COVID, climate change, etc.
More Reasons for the Extremes
Activists versus advocates:
USIDHR (United States Institute of Diplomacy and Human Rights) distinguishes between Activists and Advocates:
An activist is defined as a ‘person who believes strongly in political or social change and takes part in activities such as public protests to try and make this happen’… Advocacy is presented as a much more refined practice as opposed to activism… To be an advocate is ‘to publicly support or suggest an idea, development, or way of doing something’. Therefore, an advocate can be understood as the one who listens, the one with the specialized knowledge; whereas, activists are the ones who make the noise. Protests, marches, events that create an impact and make people listen – whether they want to or not.
Advocates are those that work “within the system”, as mentioned, these are the people who work with the politicians and try to address problems in a way that invites people to get involved in a more tempered way.
It very well could be that those who push the extremes have not transitioned from activists to advocates.
There are some who contend that movements begin with activists. As it progress, moderates and advocates join. After accomplishing a ruling or legislation, the advocates move on to the next issue, but the activists continue agitating and yet move to the extremes.
(Possibly an example of an extreme activist is Dian Fossey, who wanted to learn from the gorillas. Someone stole a baby guerilla so in turn, she stole a human baby. In her activist way of thinking, she most likely thought this was justified. This set the stage for the 1988 movie, Gorilla In the Midst, starring Sigourney Weaver.
Dian Fossey was an American primatologist and conservationist known for undertaking an extensive study of mountain gorilla groups from 1966 until her murder in 1985. She studied them daily in the mountain forests of Rwanda, initially encouraged to work there by paleoanthropologist Louis Leakey.
Read this interesting article about Fossey.
This lonely, obsessed activist leads to the next question: Are advocates extreme personality types?
Advocates are INFJ which is a rare personality type, only 2%.
According to 16 Personalities:
An Advocate (INFJ) is someone with the Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, and Judging personality traits. They tend to approach life with deep thoughtfulness and imagination. Their inner vision, personal values, and a quiet, principled version of humanism guide them in all things.
- Are troubled by injustice
- Have difficulties with close relationships and social acceptance
- Are intent on finding life’s purpose
- Feel different
- Are idealistic and principled
- Have lofty goals and ambitions
Here’s a few other quirky details about advocates INFJ:
- 91% have a nagging feeling that they must do things, accomplish things, compared to the average of 76%
- 84% are upset if they have bad thoughts, compared to average of 61%
- 79% awake at night worrying about things that upset them during the day, compared to 59%.
In some odd ways, this may explain why advocates do not quit advocating once a goal has been accomplished, but continue to advocate even when they move into the extremes, losing not their base, but often the majority who helped them accomplish their initial goal.
Often activists are the ones who start a movement by highlighting an injustice or an unfairness. When the unfairness is brought to the surface, reasonable people join and begin to advocate. These advocacy groups should have a clear goal so they can negotiate effectively. Once this goal has been accomplished, advocates should celebrate the success and possibly guide the activists away from moving to extremism, which then causes a backlash. The result of this backlash gives the perception or the reality of two steps forward and one step back, so the articulated goal is less fulfilled.
-Comedian Bill Maher declared wokeness has gone too far and hurt Democrats at the polls.
-Bill Maher describe the LGBTQ as Trendy
-Maher opens up about extremes.
-Brook’s Opinion: The Problem with Wokeness
-Wokeness is the Democrat’s Biggest Problem in 2022, James Carville
-Advocates-The Most Extreme Personality Type.