Republican extremists: Martin Luthur King, Jr. and Barry Goldwater

by Tim Condon

Democrats today love name-calling about Republican “extremism.” I’t not getting much traction, but it does have a distinguished history. So…with a hat tip to a recent column by George Will, here’s what Dr. Martin Luthur King, Jr. had to say about “extremism.” In his “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” he wrote as follows:

Dr. Martin Luthur King, Jr. on "extremism"

Senator Barry Goldwater on "extremism"

You speak of our activity in Birmingham as extreme…. But though I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist, as I continued to think about the matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label. Was not Jesus an extremist for love…. Was not Amos an extremist for justice…. Was not Paul an extremist for the Christian gospel…. Perhaps the South, the nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.

The sainted Sen. Barry Goldwater said something similar when he gave his acceptance speech to the Republican National Convention in San Francisco in 1964:

Anyone who joins us in all sincerity, we welcome. Those who do not care for our cause, we don’t expect to enter our ranks in any case. And let our Republicanism, so focused and so dedicated, not be made fuzzy and futile by unthinking and stupid labels. I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.

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