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The Moderate Paradox

Muslim extremists

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Moderation is an unreachable goal as long as the culture is constantly in motion. And it’s off limits to Republicans as long as its trajectory is always moving to the left. The moderate position is not defined by the right so long as the right remains in place or moves to the left. The left is moving and so its movement defines what the new moderate position is.

The moderate is not a better man or post-partisan; he is chasing the left’s bandwagon and temporarily occupying the open space that the left has created for him to occupy. The moderate is the left’s camp-follower. The jackal who feeds off the scraps that the left has left behind for him before he has to move on to follow its new campground.

By constantly moving to the left, the left is exerting control of the political space, defining the Overton Window in terms of its own political leanings. Moderates become slow leftists and conservatives become slower leftists. The entire spectrum comes to be defined by the positions of the left. Everyone in the spectrum becomes a leftist of radical, moderate or conservative temperament.

I would like to say that this is something that will one day happen to us if we keep going as we are and that we can still avert through a steady regimen of diet soda and Churchill readings, but in fact it has happened already. On domestic policy, most of what we do is debate over how much to the left we should go or how far away from the left we should move. Social conservatism is being jettisoned to focus entirely on economic conservatism. And when economic conservatism is jettisoned what will be left?

We’ve spent plenty of time calling Obama a Socialist, but the reality is that, for the last 50 years, we’ve been debating just how much Socialism we should have. We have repeatedly concluded that the new proposal is too much Socialism, and that the amount of Socialism we have now could be reduced by 10 percent or so to leave over the perfect amount of Socialism. Is it any wonder that the left is winning?

The difference between the left and the right is that the left plays chess while the right plays checkers. The right sacrifices long-term principles to short-term advantages, while the left sacrifices short-term advantages to long term-victories. The left will accept being embarrassed. It embraces the extremism tag. It doesn’t care that liberalism has a negative perception or that people consider its views to be too radical. Those same views that people consider too radical will be mainstream in a decade or two.

The left does not occupy the moderate space. Instead, its positions do, because it focuses on moving the dialogue further to the left. The right, which prides itself on being more sensible and avoiding extremist labels is instead tarred with the extremist label, not because it has moved to the right, as the leftist media often insists, but because it hasn’t moved to the left quickly enough.

The same phenomenon has occurred with Islam. Every time Islamists pull in their direction, the dialogue space is expanded to define new versions of moderation and extremism. Many Muslim terrorist groups are now moderate, not because they are moderate in our terms, but because they are moderate in Islamist terms.

The most common reason why a Muslim terrorist group is labeled as moderate is because is it less open to killing other Muslims than some of its more extreme variants. Violence no longer defines extremism, only the full scope of that violence does. All Muslim terrorist groups, including the moderate ones, favor suicide bombings directed at infidel civilians. Not all favor suicide bombings directed at other Muslims. Those who do are often labeled extremist.

Muslim terrorist groups who treat Shiite Muslims as infidels are increasingly viewed as moderate, contrasted with extremist Muslim terrorist groups who declare other Sunni Muslims to be infidels. And the truly extreme Muslim terrorist groups are the ones who define even other Sunni Islamists as infidels over minor differences.

A Muslim terrorist group which is open to killing 72 percent of the planet is considered more moderate than one that is open to killing 83 percent of the planet, which is still moderate compared to the truly extremist terrorist groups who want to kill 94 percent of the planet. Since there are always new and more extreme Islamist terrorist groups springing up, the logical outcome of this madness will leave us with a moderate Muslim terrorist group that only wants to kill 99 percent of the planet, as opposed to the truly dangerous extremists who want to kill 99.9 percent of the planet.

About the Author: Daniel Greenfield is an Israeli born blogger and columnist, and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. His work covers American, European and Israeli politics as well as the War on Terror. His writing can be found at http://sultanknish.blogspot.com/. The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not represent the views of The Jewish Press.


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