Common Words Called "Extremist"

November 17, 2022
adl extremist

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Remember when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – the government agency established in 1946 to “work on malaria, typhus, and other infectious diseases” – issued a temporary halt on evictions in 2020? That’s right, the same organization that in the 1980s was busy (rightfully) campaigning against Guinea worm disease, decided to pivot in 2020 and enter the exciting world of residential real estate – issuing a federal order banning landlords from evicting tenants for non-payment to “prevent the further spread of COVID-19.” Nevermind that the U.S. Supreme Court decided the CDC had “exceeded its existing statutory authority,” the erstwhile health organization has only continued to grow in influence – highlighting the type of overreach typically reserved for student council presidents determined to shorten the school day. 

Perhaps taking cues, today’s subject, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) – a civilian non-profit founded in 1913 to “stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all” – has since evolved to publishing a 958-term “Glossary of Extremism,” designing a mandatory training program for the FBI, filing amicus briefs with both State and U.S. Supreme Courts on issues ranging from immigration to election procedure, developing artificial intelligence tools to monitor online behavior, providing law enforcement with “critical intelligence” on individuals and groups, spearheading legislation, and – in their own words – serving as the nation’s “foremost nongovernmental authorities on domestic extremism.”

Sound like a jump for an organization that shares the same 501(c)3 tax exemption status as the Goldfish Council? Well, that’s what you get when you’re generating over $91 million in annual revenue and hosting events attended by Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla and FBI Director Christopher Wray.

To say we should keep an eye on the Anti-Defamation League’s growing role in American politics is an understatement. But for now, let’s take a closer look at the group’s “continually updated” list of extremist terms and ideologies. As the stated goal of the Anti-Defamation League is to “monitor, expose and disrupt extremist threats,” we’d all be well served to understand exactly what they mean by “extreme.”

Words, Terms, and Ideas Classified As “Extremist”


Raised to embrace critical thinking? Might wanna think again. According to the Anti-Defamation League, “do your own research” (or even “do the research”) is a “rallying cry for some QAnon supporters. It encourages others to ‘do their own research’ to prove that Q narratives about the ‘Deep State,’ a cabal of pedophiles, and children being tortured and cannibalized are true.” According to the ADL, the term is “also used in anti-vax circles.” GASP!


Ever refer to politicians who vote based on long-standing alliances, back-door deals, and self-interest as the “Deep State”? According to the Anti-Defamation League, what you’re really referring to is a “QAnon conspiracy” about a network working to “ensure that the elites’ satanic desires are carried out and covered up.”


Catch that Forbes article about how billionaire George Soros “broke the British pound” and think, “Hm. That guy was also the largest individual donor in this year’s midterm election, contributing over $128 million to the Democratic party. It kinda seems like he uses his power to make stuff happen – and it almost seems like he leans left”? Well, the Anti-Defamation League wants you to know that type of logic is an exercise in extremism. According to the ADL, “Soros is the frequent target of conspiracy theories claiming that he masterminds global plots or manipulates events to further his goals.”


Hear stories about condom demonstrations for third to fifth graders, or educators hosting drag shows for minors, and wonder if a complete stranger having an “introspective discussion” with your 7-year-old about sexuality – or your kid’s teacher showcasing grown adults twerking in mini skirts and thigh-high boots, regardless of gender – might serve as encouragement to engage in sexually permissive behavior? Well, you better keep those concerns to yourself. According to the Anti-Defamation League, the terms “grooming” and “groomers” have been “appropriated and weaponized by anti-LGBTQ+ bigots who falsely imply or claim that members of the LGBTQ+ community are pedophiles and are ‘grooming’ children by discussing issues related to sexual orientation and gender identity.”  


Joke around about giving a “red pill” to someone (a la The Matrix movie) when you drop some conservative (“red”) information that blows their mind? Well, the Anti-Defamation League isn’t laughing. While the ADL admits the term isn’t always used in extremist context, “when it is, it means one has bought into at least one trope of the far-right movement.” Considering the media has linked everyone from political journalist Tucker Carlson to gym-owner Ian Smith to the “fair-right movement,” one might go so far as to argue this particular term is a bit broad.


Not a fan of the Black Lives Matter corporation – which has faced extensive criticism for raising over $90 million, but allegedly failing to help victims? Not real big on the Black Lives Matter riots, either – which, according to the Insurance Information Institute, resulted in over $2 billion in insured losses, making it the costliest civil disorder in U.S. history (devastation, experts note, that will negatively impact economic opportunity – in the often minority-centric communities – for decades)? Well, whatever you do, don’t get cheeky and exercise your Constitutionally protected right to free speech by suggesting that “White Lives Matter.” According to the ADL, “White Lives Matter” is a “white supremacist phrase that originated […] as a racist response to the Black Lives Matter movement.”

Full List of “Extremist” Rhetoric

As mentioned, the Anti-Defamation League’s “Glossary of Extremism” clocks in at 958 items – so a detailed review of each phrase alludes the scope of this post. However, if you have some extra time and want to see what other slogans, symbols, and ideas made the list, visit ExtremismTerms.ADL.org to do your own research.

Wink. Wink.


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