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Democracy, Extremism, and Outliers

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Democracy, Extremism, and Outliers


How do you decide what is extreme, or so outside the norm, that it’s “crazy” or “dangerous” to society?

Under democratic governance structures, people enjoy freedom to believe as they choose, speak freely and advocate for their beliefs. Individuals like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton led the movement giving women the right to vote, and were seen as “extremist.” Another “extremist,” Frederick Douglas corresponded with and influenced the U.S. President on matters of racial equality. Still other “extremists” brought us witch trials, McCarthyism and the Holocaust. Given the societal impulse to label anyone outside of the mainstream “extreme,” how can we better distinguish and then support outliers who are advancing worthy causes?

Background Information:
Political diversity is essential to some conversations. Especially with polarized topics, we encourage you to take extra care to include people who hold different political views. Engaging only with people who hold similar views can lead to further entrenchment of our own beliefs and more polarization. While you don’t need to be an expert on this topic, sometimes people want background information. Our partner, AllSides, has prepared a variety of articles reflecting multiple sides of this topic.

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