A low bar for ‘extremism’

It doesn’t take much to be characterized as an “extremist” anymore; you pretty much just have to have a different position on a civic or political issue.

Take the ad that greeted readers of the Star Tribune today, for example. Purchased by a group called Save Lake Calhoun, it objects to efforts to rename Lake Calhoun to Bde Maka Ska, an effort that started a few years ago and has been waged peacefully through the political process. If John C. Calhoun had shown as much respect to Native Americans, he’d likely still have a lake named after him in a state he never visited.

But, they’re “extremists”, the Calhoun fans say in their ad.

The ad blames 80% of Minnesotans for the likely name change next week by Hennepin County commissioners.

“We the silent majority stayed silent,” it reads. “How many of us attended the public hearing to protest? How many of us wrote a personal letter, or called our county commissioner to voice our opinion?”

Not many, apparently, which might indicate that the alleged silent majority is very much in a minority.

On the website for the group, no names of any organizers or members are listed. It was created only last Wednesday, its owner was masked in WHOIS records.

Related Calhoun Bde Maka Ska: Park Board Committee Approves Lease For Lola’s Cafe At Lake Calhoun (WCCO)

  • Gary F

    The term “extremist” has been worn out by the political left in their defense against anything they don’t believe in. So, when anyone else uses it it, whether true or not, the term really doesn’t hold its weight any more.

      • Gary F

        The right is starting to use it now too And its lost its meaning.

        Everyone that doesn’t fit your world view today can be labeled as an “extremist”. Just sayin.

        • Jared

          First, your last point is literally stated in the post.

          Second, who cares who said it first? It’s been used for decades (at least). Peaceful civil rights protests were done by “extremists” (must be more of those leftists). I’m sure you’d have to go back a lot farther before it’s not used to describe opponents, 50/50 chance someone on the left or right at the time started it.

          If something is stupid and you don’t like it, saying “but they started it so now we do it” doesn’t really sound like a strong position. For the record, if this stance was only supported by ~5% of the population, I’d say extremist isn’t incorrect but I’d be happy to be an extremist in this case.

        • Rob

          If “starting” means rightists have been using the term for the last 60 years or so, then I guess you’re right.

      • Jim in RF

        Churchill used it a lot, if I remember

    • jon

      the word “Extremist” appears 16 times
      the word “Extremist” appears 7 times.

      Wait, was GW a leftist now? Did we revise that history when I wasn’t paying attention?
      I know he has spoke out against the great and powerful Trump, so I guess because he is now something that the right doesn’t like he is now a lefty (talk about over using terms until they dont’ mean anything, am I right(er… correct)?)? Man it’s got to hurt doing all those mental back flips to get reality to fit your pre-established narrative.

      • Gary F

        Are people that fly airplanes into buildings for a religious jihad “extremists”?
        Are people that think changing or not changing the name of a lake “extremists”?

        Once again, the term doesn’t mean much anymore.

        • Rob

          Are the feckless cowards who gave us the Patriot Act extremists? I see what you mean about the term losing its impact.

        • Except that it’s symptomatic of the state of America in which a different political position is characterized as evil. We’re not talking white supremacy and racism, for example, which actually ARE evil. We’re talking about civic participation. This is LITERALLY a tactic of war and carries huge ramifications for the future of the democratic process.

    • Rob

      You really want to say down is up and up is down? I’m surprised that rightists haven’t tried to trademark use of the term “extremist.” It’s one of the bloviating blowhard gang’s (Sessions, Rove, Cheney, Dubya, Limaugh, Beck, Hannity, and most of the Republican congressional delegation) favorite epithets for villifying their targets.

  • Erick

    I am not one to frequently quote Barry Goldwater, but as he said,”. . . moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!”

  • MikeB

    More cultural panic by some dead enders. They think changing the name means the entire lake and everything around it is going away. They are in for a surprise.

  • Angry Jonny

    Now that this is accomplished, can we work on changing Squaw Lake to something a little less ethnically vulgar?

    • Mike Worcester

      I believe that was taken care of at some point, or at least it was supposed to have been. (And the effort was driven by a determined group of students from Cass Lake-Bena H.S.)


      • Angry Jonny

        There’s still the town, I think. Unfortunately.

        • Mike Worcester

          Okay. Ty. The statute dealt with bodies of water. Incorporated municipalities would be dealt with at their level. (Even ones with a population of 107)


          • Angry Jonny

            Yeah. I suppose it wasn’t exactly a fair comparison. My bad.

          • Mike Worcester

            No bad at all from where I’m sitting. The process to rename a town is different and from what I recall when the water bodies bill came up, attention was focused on the town, whose mayor (again, my recollection) was not inclined to go along with the idea. Really, it’s their bad.

  • Mike

    The people who want to change the name aren’t necessarily extremists. The people who want to retain the current name aren’t necessarily extremists. If only each side could turn its energy toward something more important and useful, we might actually accomplish something.

    On purely aesthetic grounds, “Bde Maka Ska” isn’t exactly melodic in the way “Denali” is (the former Mt. McKinley in Alaska). I suspect the new name will be treated mostly with puzzlement.

    • Rob

      The trouble with Denali is that it’s easily turned into Denial.

    • Jim in RF

      Yep. Like the Gaffer said: Make it short so you won’t have to shorten it to use it

  • MrE85

    The name of a lake seems like a pretty silly thing to get worked up about.

    Now, this, for example, means all-out war. http://www.kare11.com/news/local/verify/verify-does-minnesota-or-wisconsin-have-more-lakes/492122898

    • I’ve always wondered why Sconny had so many lakes listed.

      Thanks for that link!

  • Mike Worcester

    80% of Minnesotans?

    Was there an opinion poll I missed somewhere?

  • Rob

    This ad almost seems like something the Russians would do. Its anonymous nature doesn’t help to allay that notion.

  • Jerry

    Is there actually any reason to not change the lake’s name besides being uncomfortable with change?

  • Jeff C.

    Since the name is too hard to spell or say for 93% (I polled) of Minnesotans to say or spell, (be honest – it is) anyone have a guess as to what will the lake’s nickname be? TLFKAC (The Lake Formerly Known As Calhoun) doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, either.

    FYI – Pronouncer at https://soundcloud.com/mprnews/bde-makha-ska

    It is too long, too. Who wants to say so many syllables?

    • Yep, pretty easy to pronounce…

    • Kassie

      People easily say the following places: Keewaydin, Wayzata, Shakopee. We can all pronounce names like Knutson and Bjorn and Ilhan and Gonzales. That said, we can all learn to pronounce Bde Maka Ska.

  • Jack

    No one is forcing the other spots using Calhoun in their names to change.

    Now if a street name were changing, that would be a different story as addresses would have to change and there is some expense to that for businesses.

  • Jay Sieling

    Anyone else get this image while reading that ad? https://youtu.be/XM4jJc8w4H0

    I think this might be the kind of rally they are trying to drum up. But if it just doesn’t matter — then it just doesn’t matter.

  • >>On the website for the group, no names of any organizers or members are listed. It was created only last Wednesday, its owner was masked in WHOIS records.<<

    I'm shocked.

    • MikeB

      Disappointed in the Strib that they would post this anonymous ad. I understand – it’s revenue – but it’s not like it’s George Kennan’s X Letter or something like that.

    • It being anonymous brings to mind the election trolling done on Facebook and Twitter by those gosh darn Russkies. 😉

  • John

    My suspicion is that the majority of the 80% “silent majority” the advertisement references are silent because they don’t particularly care whether the lake’s name is changed or not.

    • Jeff C.

      I suspect that there are a lot of people who support the change and don’t have anything to add to the discussion, so they stay silent. No need to add, “me too” to a movement that is moving forward without you.

      • John

        Seems likely. Lumping the presumed 80% who have not voiced their opinions in as all people who oppose seems dishonest.

        I’ve certainly kept quiet, and I see no reason not to support the change.

  • Phil

    This looks like a good opportunity to give thanks to these commissioners for the change (even the season is even ripe for it), making extra sure to copy Peter and Adam, as requested.

  • crystals

    I’d like to thank the ad buyers for making it so easy for me to email my commissioner with support for the name change. Well done, team!