A history lesson on political extremism

In the 1960s, we didn’t know what extremism meant. Today we have Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert and Matt Gaetz.

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Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, one of the divisive figures in Republican politics, a reader writes.

Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, one of the divisive figures in Republican politics, a reader writes.

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Arizona Sen. Barry Goldwater had a way with words, sometimes the wrong way. “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. Moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue,” he stated in his 1964 acceptance speech for the Republican presidential nomination. The crowd roared, but across America, the response was more muted while viewers wondered, “Huh? Extremism’s ok? Is that what he said?”

Then came a campaign ad that unfairly painted Goldwater as a warmonger. There’s more: Illinois Republican Sen. Everett Dirksen led a Republican caucus that included Goldwater and New York Democratic Sen. Jacob Javits, while Democratic senator and majority leader Mike Mansfield led a Democratic caucus with liberal Hubert Humphrey and conservative Strom Thurmond. Yes, that Strom Thurmond.

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Despite their disagreements, they got things done through compromise and a communication technique you may have heard of: listening.

If you’re too young to remember what was possible, even in the turbulent 1960s, or would like to be reminded, look up the PBS Newshour Barry Goldwater and George McGovern 1988 conversation on divisive politics. It’ll warm your heart and break it at the same time.

Here’s why: We had leaders like Mansfield, Dirksen, and Goldwater. Today we have Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert and Matt Gaetz.

Extremism? In 1964, we didn’t know what that word meant. We do now.

Jim Newton, Itasca

Changing dangerous driving habits

It was heartbreaking to read about the loss of Jennifer Flores’ daughter to a driver charged with DUI. There should also be a new felony called DWD: driving while distracted. I see it all the time. People typically are on their phones while stopped at traffic signals. The light changes to green, and they’re late resuming their drive, so they compensate by speeding, some while still looking down at their phones. And it’s getting worse. 

What scares me most is when I see pre-teens and teenagers under 16 riding bikes with their heads in their phones. These are the drivers of tomorrow. God help us if they don’t change this dangerous habit!

Gary Charles Metz, LaGrange Park

Bears’ stadium plans are hardly ‘transit-oriented’

The two saddest parts of the Bears’ presentation of their stadium plans were obvious. The first was the rendering of the “mixed-use” district, showing the Chicago skyline way off in the distance. The second is calling this a “transit-oriented” district.

The Bears should probably not focus attention on just how far this boondoggle is from the population and activity center of our region. Also, you need a lot more than one Metra station and some existing Pace bus routes to be considered transit oriented.

Don Anderson, Oak Park

A question on immigration

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s move to send undocumented immigrants to Chicago and the city’s acceptance of them is reminiscent of Chinese Premier Deng Xiaoping’s meeting with President Jimmy Carter in Washington in 1979. 

Carter scolded Deng about China’s restrictions on the rights of its people to emigrate and suggested that more people be allowed to leave. The Chinese leader supposedly replied, “Why certainly, President Carter. How many millions would you like?”

John Hogan, Northalsted

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