The so-called tragedy of Barry Goldwater can be summed up by a soundbite comment he made at the 1964 convention, "extremism in the face of liberty is no vice". It looks nice on a bumpersticker but a slam-dunk remark like that begs any thinking person to ask, "ANY form of extremism?" and "whose liberty are we talking about?" Joseph McCarthy defended liberty by persecuting thousands of innocent Americans. The Ku Klux Klan (and Goldwater himself) wanted to defend liberty by protecting a constitution that did not specify that people of color should not be second-class citizens. And President Johnson wanted to defend liberty by murdering hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese civilians and by creating an extremist political ad that assumed that a man who championed extremism might just be extremist enough to use nuclear weapons in a world that was still reeling from the Bay of Pigs incident two years earlier. Was the ad extremist? Yup Barry got a dose of his own medicine!
Janet Goldwater, granddaughter of Barry Sr. (us Californians remember Jr. only too well!), has made a sweet, homey movie showing us that her grandpa was a good man of the people who befriended Hopi Indians, created lovely photographs and like most men of his generation, couldn't say the words "I love you" to his son. We all like Barry the man; what's not to like? The fact is that this film indirectly illustrates the problems with the majority of people in power who are good ol' regular people who are not evil, but will do evil things to protect ideals that they but not all Americans believe in. A recent Gallup poll asked Americans if they chose politicians either based on their character or how they stand on the issues. Goldwater is a perfect example of why one should pay more attention to the issues than the man. Janet Goldwater's well-meaning but dangerous documentary shows that like Bush, Goldwater loved his family and looked good riding a horse. But the film shows very little of the political climate of 1964 (the bombing of black churches and the Bay of Pigs were not even mentioned). It is as out of touch with the American heart as Goldwater was. After the Bay of Pigs, people were a lot more terrified of nuclear war than communism. And after the consistent persecution and even murder of black people who wanted to be treated as equals, most Americans felt that it was more important to protect the rights of individuals than a document that was passed in lieu of allowing slavery to continue in this country.
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