Not too many five-syllable words make it on to the 10 o'clock news. 'Fundamentalist' has done that and then some, easily exceeding its alloted 15 minutes of fame.
The book I'm plodding through (Only Yesterday, by Frederick Allen) raises an interesting tidbit:
"Those who believed in the letter of the Bible and refused to accept any teaching, even of science, which seemed to conflict with it, began in 1921 to call themselves Fundamentalists."
Odds are, if you're reading this humble BLOG, you are NOT a fundamentalist. I'll hazard a second guess that you don't know one personally.
The 20th century brought with it massive changes in societal knowledge. Science produced one revolution after another - enlightening the masses while casting once-thought certainties into complicated shades of gray.
The more a (rational) individual learns and experiences, the tougher it becomes to take a hard-line stance on most issues
In plain English - the more you know, the more you realize your potential for error or misjudgment.
The irony of life is - it's often the unwavering, unquestioning, unbending type who ends up leading. And you can look at it two ways - positively (gee, she sure has some convictions) or negatively (dang, he's an imbecile).
Whether you like it or not - fundamentalists always have - and always will rule societal groups. From the Islamic variety blowing themselves up daily... to refined, polite politicians like George W. Bush.
A leader knows it takes a certain "one-sidedness" to mobilize his base - without which no man or woman can be voted into power.
Could I be wrong? Perhaps. But I'd challenge you to find the current leader of one major "world power" willing to admit any of his chief policies are amiss.