An Historical Antecedent of the Unitarian Jihad
Back in 1965 at the YMCA of ND State University, a late friend, Tim Canning, and I were discussing the weirdness going on with the rise of the Student Movement. There were parts of it we rather liked, and parts we did not. Even then, 40 years back, it was clear that the ideological separation of political extremes was itself the proximate cause of too much ranting about almost anything.
On closer inspection, it was clear that the forces of Moderation needed to exert themselves. But how? To further that goal, we closely examined the forces of the Right and Left to discern the fundamentals that drove them, and thereby to discern what the Moderates had to do in opposition.
It was more than clear that the R&L depended on the strength of rather Specific Ideological Concepts, which to them were more than merely Clear but indeed were reified into something approaching Reality. We could see The Enemy almost immediately -- Conceptual Specifism. Just the very sound of it on the tongue rang true.
But an Enemy must not only exist -- it must be getting worse, preferably in an insidious fashion. No problem. It was Creeping Conceptual Specifism, clearly. Thus was The Enemy discovered.
Now to fashion the opposition.
We needed a movement with global reach. Obviously Moderate Extremists (and by extension Moderate Extremism -- though if one is Hispanic it came out as Extreme Moderatism, which is a mere linguistic quibble, though a good subject for endless discussion) required an internationalist flavor. Even without the Net at the time, we knew this was a required characteristic. So -- Moderate Extremists of the World it was. And along with that came the happy acronymn -- MEOW. It just seemed correct, somehow.
We needed an identifying gesture. Clearly other extremist movements were fond of the raised clenched fist at the time, so that was important. But along with it was a need to conjoin it with with something to differentiate it from all the other raised clenched fists. This was no easy task. In a flash of insight, Tim suggested the Adamant Shrug. One raised the fist, but not Too high, shrugged with the other shoulder and adopted a facial expression indicating mild resignation and a What The Hell Anyway attitude.
Instant acceptance! The Adamant Shrug was adopted.
Things stalled at that point for a while. It was not enough simply to Be MEOW; we had actually to Do something. But what? The other extreme groups of the R&L had things pretty well sewn up in that regard with the entire Viet Nam War discussion. The environmental movement was only nascent, and hadn't really caught on as it would later. And there was the problem of what signs to carry. What would they say that would not violate the prescription against Creeping Conceptual Specifism in the first place? One had to beware of Becoming The Enemy, as Pogo so cogently warned against.
We determined that the thing to do would be to assemble at the Federal Building in Fargo, ND, for a Moderate Extremist Protest. We did up some smallish signs in Dark Grey on Light Gray backgrounds, consisting only of an Exclamation Point. That allowed for the maximum diffusion of any Creeping Conceptual Specifism that might be out there, while still demonstrating our adamance in the process. It was likewise important Not to tell the media what we were doing, because that would serve only to make the present problem even worse!
Of a pleasant May morning, about 10-12 of us showed up at 10 am, and hung out for maybe 15 minutes. Passers-by looked at us strangely as they came and went, and several asked if we were protesting the Viet Nam War. No -- we were protesting Specifistic Protesting, we replied. They still looked at us strangely.
As a final gesture, we burned a blank postcard. Draft cards were Far too specifistic for our purposes. We had the best of all possible outcomes -- no one hardly noticed. The local news media did not show up. It was Perfect!
One more thing: We had to be Card Carrying Moderate Extremists. Not to be carrying a card would be to avoid the central most sinister thing that Movements of the time could say about each other. That wouldn't do. So, Tim and I drafted a membership card for MEOW. 40 years later, I don't recall all of it, but I do recall the central gist and can provide some of it essentially verbatim. It read:
"This is to suggest that the undersigned, who may be going by his/her real name, may or may not hold some transitory philosophical precepts (assuredly Not concepts as such), which could -- if one were so inclined, though there is no requirement for such a thing -- be temporarily construed as being in general, though Not specific, agreement with a set of ad hoc constructs that might be concatenized under the general title of Moderate Extremism...."
There was more, but the years have dimmed the memory. Indeed, it was not until finding the Unitarian Jihad that much of this came to the forefront of memory at all.
The cause is right and the means of spreading the word is appropriate. That latent idea sees a regeneration and renewal in a world that more sorely needs it now more than ever.
I congratulate all who follow the path.
Brother Flaming Golden Scimitar of Vengeful Reflection
This is work is the product of Don Homuth, MathiasTCK merely noded it.