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Warren E Barry

The vice and virtue of extremism

The vice and virtue of extremism

Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona said the following when he accepted the nomination for president in 1964 at the 28th Republican National Convention: "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."

To our Democratic ears at that time, with the Cold War at its height, with McCarthyism still distorting political and cultural discourse, and the Civil Rights and feminist movements gaining traction and momentum, these words rang an ominous note. They sound even worse now, as rhetoric from both right and left gets louder and uglier and more violent.

On the...