Extremism in America

Extremism in America

Extremism in America

Extremism in America

Synopsis

"A first-rate survey of the various strands of domestic extremism, from far left to far right, that are increasingly convulsing our country. A must-read for students, scholars, officials, and others entering this important field."--Mark Potok, Southern Poverty Law Center

"With contributions on areas ranging from anti-abortion extremism to modern anarchism and black nationalism, this is a fascinating study of an often neglected and vital area of American politics."--Martin Durham, author of White Rage: The Extreme Right and American Politics

The American Republic was born in revolt against the British crown, and ever since, political extremism has had a long tradition in the United States. To some observers, the continued presence of extremist groups--and the escalation of their activities--portends the fragmentation of the country, while others believe such is the way American pluralism works. The word extremism often carries negative connotations, yet in 1964 Barry Goldwater famously said, "Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice."


Extremism in America
is a sweeping overview and assessment of the various brands of bigotry, prejudice, zealotry, dogmatism, and partisanship found in the United States, including the extreme right, the antiglobalization movement, Black Nationalism, Chicano separatism, militant Islam, Jewish extremism, eco-extremism, the radical antiabortion movement, and extremist terrorism.


Many of these forms of single-minded intolerance are repressed by both the state and society at large, but others receive significant support from their constituencies and enjoy a level of respectability in some quarters of the mainstream. The essays in this volume examine the relationship between these movements and the larger society, dissect the arguments of contemporary American anarchist activists, look at recent trends in political extremism, and suggest how and why such arguments resonate with a considerable number of people.

Excerpt

George Michael

Beneath the surface of American politics lies a growing extremist subculture. Although most of the groups that compose this subculture are small and seem to have little influence, collectively their presence suggests interesting trends in American politics and society. To some observers, their presence portends the fragmentation of the country while to others they are just another example of American pluralism at work, albeit with a radical bent.

Political extremism has a long tradition in the United States. Numerous radical protest and dissident movements have punctuated American history. in fact, the American republic was born in revolt against the British Crown as the colonial rebels sought self-government and independence from England. Not long after the Revolutionary War, in 1786–87, Daniel Shays led farmers in a revolt in Springfield, Massachusetts. the insurgents protested over the state legislature’s refusal to issue cheap paper money. Eventually Shays and his men were defeated by the state militias, but the incident did much to frighten the wealthy class who were the creditors. the revolt convinced political leaders that the national government, under the Articles of Confederation, and individual state governments were incapable of resolving the most pressing problems of the day and thus served as the impetus for the drafting of the U.S. Constitution.

Prior to the European colonization of North America, there is archeological evidence indicating that Native American Indian tribes occasionally slaughtered their rivals. Mass graves suggesting ritual executions have been . . .

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