God’s moderation is man’s extremism. This occurs to me when considering the remarks recently made by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. As you may know, the governor addressed a Republican schism while a guest on the New York Public Broadcasting radio show “The Capitol Pressroom” and said, “Extreme conservatives who are right-to-life, pro-assault-weapon, anti-gay ... have no place in the state of New York — because that’s not who New Yorkers are.” And many observers think that this reveals who Cuomo really is.
In fairness, it appeared as if Cuomo was referring to how such individuals had no place in Empire State politics because they don’t have the votes in New York to carry the day. So while other commentators are busy condemning the governor for being, as late radio legend Bob Grant used to call Cuomo’s father, “Il Duce” (which does truly characterize him), there is so much more that can be said about Cuomo the Younger’s impolitic remarks.
First, everything Cuomo does must be interpreted within the context of his apparent 2016 presidential ambitions. They are why he visibly pushed radical pro-abortion legislation last year and signed the “SAFE Act” anti-Second Amendment law, and it may explain why he would say that “extreme conservatives” have no place in New York: He is positioning himself as Mr. Progressive-on-steroids in preparation for the Democratic primaries. As to this, I have a New York message for Cuomo.
You haven’t got a chance.
Not if Hillary Clinton or a minority is running, anyway. This is because of something I long ago dubbed “cultural affirmative action,” which is the phenomenon whereby everyday people, often reflexively and unconsciously, advantage women and minorities simply because of the latter’s association with “victim” groups. This factor is why 2008 polling showed that, despite “Bradley Effect” propaganda, Barack Obama’s race was actually an advantage at the ballot box.
And this phenomenon is especially intense among the Democratic base — many of whom don’t like live white males any more than dead ones — and is why I wrote during the 2008 campaign that John Edwards didn’t have a chance of capturing the Democratic nomination with competition such as Clinton and Obama. So there’s a delicious irony here: Cuomo will likely be hoisted on the petards of the politically correct climate he himself helped intensify. Ah, the schadenfreude.
Yet far more interesting here is the matter of extremism, and the governor’s conception of it. First, the idea that “pro-life” views should be considered extreme speaks volumes about Cuomo. Note that he is, as is common, assuming that extremism is defined by deviation from the political spectrum’s center; this is why he buttressed his claims by mentioning that ardent conservatives’ views are out of step with “70 percent” of New Yorkers. This, regrettably, is true. But if he would consequently say that “extreme conservatives” don’t have a place in New York, we should ask if Cuomo and New York have a place in America. After all, does the governor understand that the United States has become increasingly pro-life in recent years and that the nation is now split approximately 50-50 on the issue?
Broadening our perspective even more, let’s consider the matter of being “anti-gay,” by which Cuomo is referring to support for the institution of marriage and opposition to the homosexual agenda in general. Well, it’s safe to say that most of the world is in that camp. Homosexual advocacy has actually been criminalized in Russia, and in Africa such activity is even more unwelcome.
As for Cuomo’s anti-Second Amendment measures, it’s a lie that he banned “assault weapons” because they, correctly defined, were never available to the general public to begin with. What the governor did was ban certain weapons based purely on cosmetic details and then portray his action as a substantive crime-fighting measure to a gullible soccer-mom constituency. In other words, most New Yorkers approved of his “SAFE Act” because he fooled them, not because they agree with do-nothing demagoguery.
Yet to really illuminate this issue we have to broaden our perspective to the heavens. What is authentic extremism? And is it really so that Truth is always found at the “center” of society?
It sure wasn’t when Copernicus and Galileo proposed heliocentrism, Louis Pasteur espoused germ theory, Dr. Joseph Goldberger concluded that pellagra was caused by malnutrition, Alfred Wegener proposed continental-drift theory, abolitionists condemned the age-old institution of slavery, or when Francisco Suárez promulgated the principles of proper government 200 years before the American Revolution. Such men were often called radical and wrong, risible and ridiculous, if not worse, until times caught up with Truth. The lesson? Oftentimes an extremist is just someone who is right 100 years too soon — or 100 years too late.
Of course, sometimes correct answers are found at society’s center. Galileo was wrong about the moon and tides, and physicist Stephen Hawking finally had to admit some years back that he erred in saying that the Universe was constantly “losing information.” But there is one place that the right answers are always found: at the true center — Truth.
This is the point moderns miss about extremists and moderates. Awash in relativism, in the Protagorean notion that “man is the measure of all things,” they judge everything based on the day’s fashions, even when they’re fallacies. This is when these conformists will say things such as “Well, you know, most people disagree with you” as if that’s any more significant than when it was said to Pasteur. But being radical is not synonymous with being wrong, as one who maintains that 2+2=4 in a land where it is believed to be 5 is considered so. And the problem with today’s leftists is that they want to charge us with “hate speech” for rejecting the new math.
The irony here is that many leftists also pride themselves on being iconoclasts (otherwise known as extremists), ever rebelling against some patriarchy, Western cultural hegemony, or Christian theocratic power that they imagine still is the “establishment.” But whatever leftists’ passions and perspectives, their relativism makes them identical in the most significant way. That is to say, the devoted conformist and devoted extremist are bedfellows, in that the former is always extreme about conforming while the latter is always conforming to extremism. The devoted conformist dispenses with Truth when it’s not popular, and the devoted extremist dispenses with the popular even when it’s the Truth. They are two sides of the same devalued coin.
Barry Goldwater once famously said, “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.” But it’s more literally correct to say that defenses of rectitude seem extreme only in vice-ridden societies. And if Andrew Cuomo ever came to represent our civilization’s center, I would rather be the extremist who is extremely right than the extremist who is extremely accepted.