"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" (Goldwater).
These words were spoken by Barry Goldwater in 1964. Barry Morris Goldwater was born in 1909 in Phoenix, Arizona. He was a United States Senator from Arizona and ran for presidency via the Republican ticket in 1964 (Gibson, 4). He is popularly remembered for his spirit of conservatism that is believed to have revolutionized the Republican Party. Although he did not manage to become president, Barry Goldwater is still highly respected for his philosophical impact on conservatism that paved the way for the election of Ronal Reagan into the presidency of the United States (Gibson, 4).
This particular quote was uttered by Barry Goldwater during his acceptance speech. The speech was given at the twenty-eighth Republican National Convention as he accepted the presidential nomination (Gibson, 4). As he gave his speech, Goldwater was resistant to provide any apologies for his beliefs in strict politics of conservatism. This quote is an essentially rousing sentiment. In my opinion, Barry Goldwater was clearly indicating that the end result always justifies the means. These words are directly extremist invoking the alignment of violence and extremism with positive outcomes. It is evident that to Barry Goldwater, even when it meant violence and other forms of extremism, so long as the ultimate general good of society was achieved, then all is well. He believes these are the only true ways for taking the United States great as it should be (Goldwater).
These words also illustrate an encouragement of fighting fire with fire. This is the notion to use violence means to counter violence in the country or violent threats to the country. Similar thoughts can well be suited in the nuclear launch on Hiroshima and Nagasaki (Critchlow, 17). The end result was consequently disastrous and the act itself was inhumane. When he was running for office in 1964, the Civil Rights Movement was at its peak in its activities with riots all over the country demanding civil justice and human rights for people of color across the United States. There is a direct implication of Goldwater's words to deal with protestors using violent means to silence their riotous chants. Similarly, to Goldwater, the same measures would be used to tackle communist bullies which are politically unacceptable (Critchlow, 17).
Throughout American history, there has been a strong opponent of the idea of liberty for black folks. If it is not too extreme, one would term Barry Goldwater, a white supremacist because of his remarks. His remarks can be traced back to his roots of strong opposition towards the ratification of the Civil Rights Act (Plax, 198). This form of ideology is very much in use today, with hashtags such as “make America great again” that were often used by President Donald Trump as his campaign slogan. Moreover, the prevalent police brutality against people of color today can significantly be attributed to this slogan. His notions of returning to the true American ways of racial segregation and discrimination are still at play today both directly and indirectly (Plax, 200).
Recently, following the death of one George Floyd, there have been riots around the country, especially in Minneapolis. The country’s president has since tweeted suggesting the involvement of the National Guard to deal with the ‘thugs.’ This attitude has been common across history with police (mostly white) often initiating conflict, injuring and killing people of color with no criminal justice repercussions (Plax, 200).
All there is to understand is that violent means always lead to violent ends. It is always a counterproductive effort and individuals need to move from extremist thoughts and actions completely.
Critchlow, Donald T. "Would Goldwater Have Made a Good President?." Journal of Arizona History 61.1 (2020): 11-36.
Gibson, Corey. "Extremism in Poiesis and Praxis: Hugh MacDiarmid, Malcolm X, and Barry Goldwater, Oxford 1964." Modernism/Modernity Print Plus 3.1 (2018).
Goldwater, Barry. "Acceptance speech." 28th Republican National Convention. Vol. 16. 1964.
Plax, Martin J. "On extremism in our time." Society 50.2 (2013): 196-203.