Grassroots ExtremismrnThe Religious Rightrnby Wayne AllensworthrnJT’^^^^^KTLrn1 ”c-<^y^ ^ ^ ” * > i ;^rnW”—~ ^ . ^ rn/ ; V /^rnO^^i-^rn.^nawwKSKK^EiaH^-X-rn1 ‘!y’^^^?^i^)V^^Q9^HlrnJlg^^^j^rnS^^^KL^JH^ • M E»R– _^^^il^^B^9^^^SfrnLj xtremist” is a word that may conjure up images ofrnJ—J hooded Klansmen crowded around a burning cross orrnof Black Panther separatists or kooky 60’s “revolutionaries.” Orrnperhaps images of Hitler, Stalin, or Mao come to mind. Therernis a supposition that those who are commonly called “extremists”rnare unreasonable, irrational, perhaps crazy, and quite possiblyrndangerous. In the brutal battles of the culture war, thernword has become a weapon against which there is no defense,rnparticularly when it is coupled with poisonous adjectives likern”fundamentalist” or “religious” or “right-wing.” The rulingrnelite, ensconced in the nation’s cultural, educational, and politicalrninstitutions, has decided that anvone who resists thernsteady attack on American and Western cultural norms is “extreme”rnand that only “moderates,” those who wish merely tornslow the rate of erosion while accepting in large part the premisesrnof their erstwhile opponents, are acceptable as players in thernpublic arena. More ominously, the ruling elite has displayed arngrowing willingness to call on the muscle of the state apparatusrnto suppress, and even to kill, “extremists,” who have displayedrnan “irrational” (and one may say traditionally American)rntendency to resist the encroachment of the state on what werernonce commonly considered the prerogatives of communities,rnfamilies, and individuals.rnRepublicans were celebrating in November 1993. GeorgernAllen had become the first Republican elected governor of thernstate of Virginia in 16 years, defeating his Democratic opponent,rnMary Sue Terry, by 17 percentage points. Republicanrn’Wayne Allensworth writes from Purcellville, Virginia.rnJames Gilmore was elected Attorney General, and statewidernthe Republicans did quite well, gaining a substantial number ofrnseats in the House of Delegates. Allen and Gilmore hadrncampaigned on a law-and-order platform, calling for the abolitionrnof parole, as well as opposing further gun control measures.rnAllen supports parental notification for underage girlsrnseeking abortions and opposes a tax increase to shore up thernstate’s budget. There was certainly cause for rank-and-filernRepublicans to celebrate, but for small “r” republicans thernreal story in this campaign was Mike Farris, who was defeatedrnin his bid to unseat incumbent Lieutenant Governor DonrnBeyer, a liberal Democrat.rnFarris, a fundamentalist Christian, one-time Pat Robertsonrnsupporter, and former Moral Majority activist, is a lawyer whornheads the Home Schooling Legal Defense Association; hisrnown nine children are schooled at home, and Farris has actedrnas legal counsel for parents in disputes with school officials. Inrnone case, Farris represented a group of Tennessee fundamentalistsrnwho wanted to have their children excused from readingrncertain books that they deemed offensive to their religiousrnconvictions. This in itself was probably enough to knot up therninnards of professional do-gooders, who are all for protectingrnthe rights of, or even inventing “rights” for, worthy victimrngroups but who cannot imagine that Middle Americans,rnparticularly religious believers, have any rights at all.rnBut the clincher for the nattering nincompoops of respectablernopinion was the fact that Farris openly attacked thernstate’s monopoly on education, that he called the public schoolrnsystem “a Godless monstrosity” and even questioned whetherrn30/CHRONICLESrnrnrn