We hear the words “extreme” and “extremist” used constantly in political discourse in the media. This word is used like swear words when people want to vent an emotional release but are unable to provide rational descriptions of what they are referring to.
He told the group to make sure they label the GOP spending cuts as “extreme.” “I always use extreme,” Schumer said. “That is what the caucus instructed me to use.”—Washington Examiner
“Extremist” is a deprecatory word to slur a political opponent, but it carries no content, only an emphasis. It does not paint an accurate description of what an opponent may think; it is not a term that can be used in scientific research; and, it is a term used to blindly scare the reader or listener away from an opponent without cause. It is a term used by liberals and conservatives alike. You might hear people say “left-wing extremist” or “right-wing extremist” when running a negative campaign against the opposing party.
The use of such deprecatory language is uncivil discourse, since it is purposely meant to separate and divide. Civil discourse among legislators is required for genuine dialogue, mutual decisions, and constructive solutions, Otherwise politics becomes grandstanding and power politics. When used in political advertising, using words like “extremist” assumes that the citizens are inferior people and can be scared into submission (often it appears to work).
President Franklin D. Roosevelt, in his famous four freedoms speech, listed “freedom from fear” as one of the four freedoms. Some people took this to mean he was referring to fear from outside attacks, but today perhaps the best way to eliminate fear is to stop using words intended to scare other citizens from evils one can’t describe and begin referring to objective reality in our political discussions.