As lawmakers, technology companies, and media outlets try to come up with more restraints on “extremists,” it’s important to keep an eye on whom they include under that label, Pay Per Touch.
You might think, when a journalist, tech mogul, or politician says “extremist” speech needs to be reined in or we need more federal surveillance of extremists, that they are talking about neo-Nazis or coup-plotters. We know, though, that “extremist” has long been expanded to include anyone with fringe beliefs, such as polygamists or RFK-style anti-vaxxers. Also, “anti-vaxxer” has been expanded beyond its old meaning, which involved rejection of all vaccines, to now include anyone who doesn’t want the COVID vaccines.
The trend here is to gradually stretch the definition of “extremist.” This combines with the trend of demanding new government and corporate efforts against “extremism.” The ugly result is a massive push to crack down on a huge portion of the country that rejects the cultural demands of the elites.
It’s an ever-widening culture war purge.
The Sacramento Bee has just published
a great exhibit in this “Great Excommunication
.” It’s a 4,000-word, sprawling piece warning that “women in extremist circles often use their leadership to uphold white male culture.”
You see, typically, a reporter for a major newspaper uses a shortcut to show you that some group is bad — they point out that the person is a white male, or the group is dominated by white males. That shortcut isn’t available when the groups the newspaper wants to villainize are run by women. To build a greater permission structure for hating women with bad politics while still preserving the ability to use identity politics to protect one’s own belief from criticism, the Sacramento Bee ran this opus.
That’s the strategic purpose. Here’s the tactic, which is also tried and true: Blend together extremism, fringiness, or slightly odd beliefs with perfectly normal people you just happen to dislike because they are of another cultural tribe.
Mark Hemingway pointed out the core paragraph of this piece:
“The women in extremist coalitions call themselves ‘mama bears.’ They organize homeschooling pods and plan public protests against mask requirements and COVID-19 shots for students. They show up en masse to statehouses, school board meetings and city halls”
THE HORROR https://t.co/s1hVlqyy96
— Mark Hemingway (@Heminator) November 22, 2021
Got that? This piece profiles women who object to vaccine mandates, homeschool their children, or don’t want their 4-year-old to be forced to wear a mask while trying to learn speech alongside white nationalists and QAnon ladies. These people are causally called “conspiracy theorists” in a piece that attempts to link violent rioters to women who form homeschool pods and try to grow their own lettuce.
You may recall the recent effort by education bureaucrats, the news media, and the Biden administration to tar parents as domestic terrorists if they got upset about their schools’ failures. This is all part of the same effort: Politically active parents on the Right, or even those who opt for some sort of child rearing outside the governmental channels, are now extremists.
So, recall, the next time someone calls for action against “extremists,” they are including homeschooling mothers.
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