Advocacy Groups are Dumb.

*This article was originally posted on Christarchy.com. The “Ostrich-thing” makes more sense if you visit me there.*

Advocacy groups are dumb. There. I said it. You don’t have to agree with me, especially if you are part of an advocacy group. But someone had to say it and seeing as I’m the only one around here to take notice I had to speak up.

It occured to me recently at work that our mission statement, our objectives, everything that we say we are and what we do is a bunch of crap. We say we want to do something like “Provide the best resources in our field” or some junk like that. Look, all we want to do is make a profit and last until tommorrow. Isn’t that what everyone, organization or entity, is looking to do? If Ford Motor Cars’ objective is “To build the best dern motor cars in the world” and they come out with a line of clunkers do you think Ford will close their doors because they failed in their objectives? This is why when a friend of ours commits suicide, or a good restaraunt goes out of business or Seinfeld cancels his show we find it so perplexing. And entity that self ends goes against the natural order of things.

But wait! I’ve lost my train of thought on advocacy groups.

Look, advocacy groups operate in the same manner. Sure, they might have started out with the best of intentions (what is the road to hell paved with???) but gradually they lost their way. Take groups like the NAACP for example. They start out wanting something good………great even. Like not being lynched. I get that. You don’t want to be lynched and that’s a great cause to support. Then they want to be able to vote and sit on jurys. These too are great goals. Heck, the jury one even benefits me because serving jury duty sucks and if blacks can serve then I serve less often. Then they want to be able to share waterfountains and go to the same school. Not a goal as great as being able to vote but it’s still good. But eventually, when racism is harder to find, we get the delaware university crud of trying to make all white students admit they are racist, or the US Naval academy scandle where even though white women were sexually harrassed the NAACP turned into a racial matter, or the Duke University fiasco of last year, or the racist “deer head” scandle in a Baltimore City Firehouse (Google this stuff yourself. I’m an ostrich and it’s hard enough to type this. Besides, I’m lazy).

When an advocacy group runs out of things to advocate they will find things or make them up.

Women’s rights organizations have had a similar past. PETA is run by perpetual lunatics. Dobson rails against gays. The Christian church has found a new love with the republican party (Or maybe it’s an old love. I dunno. I can’t keep track of this stuff). The Homeschool legal defense fund gives money to anti-homosexual organizations.

Look, it’s not that I’m for or against something like the homosexual lifestyle (or whatever. I can’t even keep the PC terms these advocacy groups keep creating straight. And by “straight” I don’t mean anti-gay because I’m not anti-gay or anti-homosexual or anti-queer……….did I break the PC code in an attempt to keep it? Crap. This parentheses thing keeps getting longer.) Why should I devote time to equal rights for gays or for the protection of the family? Do either of these things bring people closer to the kingdom? (Can an ostrich get into the kingdom?)

Advocacy groups, particularly of the political variety, either want you as an ally or as an enemy. And this really isn’t the message of Christ is it? Why are Christians a part of these divisive things?

I was a big supporter of Ron Paul. But I didn’t give money to his campaign nor did I make a single meetup event. If I can’t give time to Jesus why should I give my time to Mr. Paul?

As Christians, if we fill our time supporting advocacy groups and not Jesus then we truely have missed the bus/boat/gokart. There’s The World Bank, and Westboro Baptist Church, and Circus’ to protest. Signs to make. Animals to save. Chants to write and drums to beat………………….but if it ain’t for Jesus then what good is it?

Comments (31)

  1. DenverS

    I was saddened after reading the following article this morning:
    http://media.www.themichiganjournal.com/media/storage/paper255/news/2008/03/11/Perspectives/Horton.Hears.A.ProLife.Protest.At.Movie.Premiere-3263485.shtml?xmlsyn=1

    In a nutshell, the Hollywood premiere of “Horton Hears a Who” was crashed by a pro-life advocacy group who hijacked the movie’s slogan, “After all, a person is a person no matter how small.”

    Don’t get me wrong, I would consider myself Pro-Life but reading this made me cringe.

    While I think advocacy groups have their place, it seems like only extreme antics are successful in garnering media attention. More often then not, it seems these fanatic displays cause more harm then good, especially for the image of that advocacy group, which doesn’t help the issue they are pushing.

    Some may argue that’s easier never to take a stand, to turn a blind eye, and stick our heads in the sand (pardon the ostrich pun Somassoul). And they would have a good point as well. But I prefer a quieter method rooted in love, built on relationships, and one that leads by example of how we live our lives. That I believe is much more effective in the long run.

    Reply
  2. somasoul

    Hey there, denver. I agree. While I’m totally against protests and such (I think they often cause more harm), protests without an organic love in our own lives expressed to others individually while we make this walk tend to defeat the purpose.

    Everyone wants to be king for a day but no one wants to be a slave for life.

    Reply
  3. TimN

    Somasoul, you talk about bringing people closer to the kingdom. Can you tell me more what the Kingdom of God means for you?

    How does someone get closer to it? Is it about believing certain things? Is it about doing certain things?

    Reply
  4. Paco

    my problem with advocacy groups is more that as christians it points to a failure of the church. if the church were operating as it ought, then we wouldn’t need advocacy groups.

    also, your critique seems less about advocacy and more about institutions as well as our misplaced desire that nothing should end nor have a limit.

    most advocacy groups start well, then outgrow themselves, institutionalize, sell out, become rich, rot, whatever. everyone knows this and thinks it sucks.

    why is it that short is always a failure, that we still equate longevity with success? why if something surfaces for a year or two then vanishes from sight is it considered a loss?

    what if no one posted on YAR for three months (or even two weeks really)? everyone would say it was dead. constant saturation, “information,” words, requirements for relevance? requirements for success? This is a much larger argument that stems to all spheres of modern life, especially modern profit/fame/relevance controlled life, which I don’t have time to talk about now, but you see my point. (if I weren’t so lazy/didn’t have extremely limited internet access, perhaps i would expand it to a post here)

    Jacques Ellul argues that the true church (I’m paraphrasing, i don’t think he would use such a dumb phrase) only appears in fleeting moments of revival of the original vision of jesus, before it is again subsumed by institutionalization, before love is turned into law, truth into sacred rituals, and the radical is forgotten or consumed by the dominant society. That it is only really possible like this, and yet we call it the failure of the church (as I did in the first sentence of this comment).

    Our common outlook of today, would lead us to think that the success of the church would be world domination, which we all know would require things which would destroy the very thing we are wishing to succeed.

    The bible speaks of jesus followers as a remnant, a small band of rascals (paraphrasing again here). insert complaints about elitism here.

    perhaps we ought to propose a new movement of ephemerality (is that a word?), of impermanence. smallness and obscurity. it won’t last long. it will be declared a failure, perhaps from the outset. it will soon be forgotten.

    perhaps it will never be known.

    Reply
  5. somasoul

    Tim N: “Somasoul, you talk about bringing people closer to the kingdom. Can you tell me more what the Kingdom of God means for you?

    How does someone get closer to it? Is it about believing certain things? Is it about doing certain things?”

    I had to think about this overnight. I don’t really know what the Kingdom is but I usually know it when I see it. If I had to some it up: “Believers In Jesus’ death and resurrection live selflessly for the glory of God.”

    That’s about as good as I’ve got. I’m sure someone has said it better.

    “also, your critique seems less about advocacy and more about institutions as well as our misplaced desire that nothing should end nor have a limit.”

    Your right. But it’s aimed at advocacy groups because they bring harm instead of the supposed better of humanity they want to bring. Ford takes money if they suck. The NAACP (or whomever) causes vast social rifts.

    “why if something surfaces for a year or two then vanishes from sight is it considered a loss?”

    Because it goes against our nature to always want to live another day. Death, though part of life, is not desireable.

    “Our common outlook of today, would lead us to think that the success of the church would be world domination, which we all know would require things which would destroy the very thing we are wishing to succeed. ”

    Superman would stop us.

    “ephemerality”

    I don’t know what this word means. I’m too lazy to use dictionary.com .

    Reply
  6. JeremyY

    Somasoul,

    I have had a mixed reaction to your post. On the one hand, I agree with the general point of your post — the limitations of advocacy groups and the danger that Christians tend to identify more with groups than with Jesus. To misquote Handel and the Psalms — “Why do the advocacy groups so furiously rage together, why do the people imagine a vain thing?”

    Yet advocacy groups do play an important function — they are a mechanism to communicate with our government. If the insurance industry and Big Tobacco can lobby the government, then why shouldn’t ordinary citizens also lobby through advocacy groups? Isn’t protest a means of communication? What are the alternatives?

    You pointed out the irrelevancy of advocacy groups, but there are also successes — universal suffrage, abolition of slavery, Civil Rights, the 40 hour work week, etc. I know you’re an anarchist and may not feel that this is an effective method of engagement, but this is the system of government that we are currently stuck with. Until our system of government changes, I do believe that advocacy groups are a legitimate way to petition.

    I must confess that when I read your post, I also felt myself cringing. I have to wonder about your reasons for your (what I consider) a fairly artless attack on the NAACP. I agree that the NAACP has struggled to remain relevant because the continued racism in our society is much harder to address. It’s easy to ban Jim Crow, harder to change hearts. But if the African-American community still finds value in this organization, who are we whities to tell them they should close shop? Since white, straight people are as a whole still in position of power within American society, I feel we need to be cautious when we tell minority and dispossessed people what to do. Don’t they have the right to make these decisions themselves?

    Reply
  7. somasoul

    “But if the African-American community still finds value in this organization, who are we whities to tell them they should close shop?”

    I never told them to close shop. I said they were dumb. They are. The NAACP is an irrelevant organization today.

    “that Christians tend to identify more with groups than with Jesus.”

    Yeah. My pet peeve at the moment.

    “shouldn’t ordinary citizens also lobby through advocacy groups?”

    Maybe. I dunno. I don’t like special priviledge no matter who you are.

    “I must confess that when I read your post, I also felt myself cringing. I have to wonder about your reasons for your (what I consider) a fairly artless attack on the NAACP. ”

    The NAACP makes victims out of innocent people. I gave a list of some more recent “flubs”. Branding people “racists” who are not. The NAACP ruins people’s reputations in an almost malicious way these days and they do it often.

    “who are we whities to tell them they should close shop?”

    Who are we whites to tell them? Collin Finnerty. Reade Seligmann. David Evans.

    I take it back. Advocacy groups aren’t dumb. They are bad.

    http://blogs.theroot.com/blogs/thehardline/archive/2008/02/25/duke-rape-scandal-two-years-later.aspx

    Reply
  8. j alan meyer

    Somasoul,

    I’m not sure what you’re trying to accomplish by calling advocacy groups “dumb” or “bad” while pretending to not be telling them to close shop. While including some helpful reminders about ultimate loyalty to Christ over human groups, your position smacks of someone unaware of his or her own privilege. Ranting against advocacy groups includes a de facto support of the status quo. While it might be easy for you to say when you don’t necessarily have a vested interest in changing society, it strikes me as inappropriate close-mindedness.

    In addition, I strongly disagree with your attack on the NAACP, and your conveniently limited understandings of racism. No white people are “innocent” of racism, and that includes myself (and you). Our white privilege allows us to normalize whiteness, and to pretend to be colorblind or that race isn’t an important factor is many situations. In the words of racial consultant Frances Kendall, “Everything that happens in our lives occurs in the context of the supremacy of whiteness.”

    Read Understanding White Privilege, by Frances E. Kendall. Good book.

    Reply
  9. somasoul

    “While it might be easy for you to say when you don’t necessarily have a vested interest in changing society, it strikes me as inappropriate close-mindedness.”

    I don’t believe that advocacy groups necessarily change society. I’m not supporting the status quo either. Stop assuming I mean things I don’t mean.

    “No white people are “innocent” of racism, and that includes myself (and you).”

    I’m not Catholic and I’m free from guilt. I’m over my oppression of minority groups. If you want to be a “racist” because you were born white be my guest.

    “In the words of racial consultant Frances Kendall, “Everything that happens in our lives occurs in the context of the supremacy of whiteness.””

    You can think about that for a while. I’m going to get into my white supremacist mobile, and go to my white supremacist light bulb employer, and save the world from the evils of dark skinned people and people with tans…….and Jews…….and Catholics. Can’t forget them.

    Meanwhile……….all this stuff just creates more animosity and keeps the cycle going. You can hunker down and keep changing the meaning of racism so these advocacy groups can keep on keeping on (that’s what they do. That’s what my post was about). My skin color doesn’t make me one thing or another.

    Reply
  10. somasoul

    My last post came across as a little cruel and sarcastic. I didn’t mean it to be. I apologize.

    Reply
  11. j alan meyer

    Somasoul,

    I’m over my oppression of minority groups.

    Yikes. Depending what you mean by “over”, that’s not something I’d ever want to hear from a person in power. I don’t want to sidetrack the thread, but I think denial about the unconscious effects of your skin color is not only harmful to yourself, but also prevents you from taking positive steps to work against white supremacy. But this is off-topic, and has already been discussed in an earlier post.

    Reply
  12. somasoul

    I’m not in a position of power. I sell lightbulbs.

    Reply
  13. j alan meyer

    I’m not in a position of power. I sell lightbulbs.

    That’s flat-out BS. I’m not talking about what you do for a living, I’m talking about who you are and your place in society. You’ve said that you’re white. You have unearned privileges in society because of your white skin. You can get better housing, lower interest loans, better treatment from the criminal justice system, etc. At their best, advocacy groups such as the NAACP remind people that racism is still present in society, and help point out systems of white supremacy. I don’t care if you sell lightbulbs, or you’re the president of the United States. As long as you’re part of society and you have white skin, you’re in a position of power.

    Reply
  14. somasoul

    No I’m not.

    Reply
  15. Jason

    Somasoul, sad to say, but J Alan Meyer is right.

    For example, I just renewed my ‘White Privilege’ Visa Card from Chase last week. It gives me all sorts of perks that other races just can’t get. Whenever I show my card at restaurants, movies, or wherever, people look at me and say ‘Here’s a White Guy’ and they give me all kinds of advantages that I didn’t earn by going to school for 9 years and earning my doctorate.

    If you’re missing out, its probably because you forgot to renew your membership.

    Reply
  16. j alan meyer

    Jason,

    I don’t understand how you both can deny the role that skin-color and race plays in our society, independent of education or economic status. When you walk out of a store and the alarm sounds, do you really think you’re treated the same way as a person of color — even if it was an honest mistake? When checking out in a store, why are more non-whites forced to show ID and display their receipt to the security at the door? Why can white people get better loans and cheaper housing than non-whites who have the same education level and economic status?

    Sure, you “earned” your education and your doctorate. But you didn’t earn the privileges that made it easier for you than for non-whites.

    Reply
  17. Jason J

    Its all part of the white advantage card.. i never leave home without it..

    But seriously, whites were a minority in my graduate class. They probably consisted of about 1/3 of my class. The rest was made up of Asians, Indians, and Black folks.

    I honestly don’t know any single successful person on this earth who hasn’t had to fight through some form of adversity to get where they were. For some its poverty, for some its race, and others its being a lower middle class pollock son of an unpopular teacher in an all WASP high school in a rural area in southern Delaware. The question shouldn’t be if racism exists, it should be what can you do to rise above that adversity.

    The real oppression comes from social and economic status much more than race. If you want to break your misconceptions about white privilege, come spend a day at the pharmacy I work at and see the poor lower class whites struggling to get by. They struggle just as much as anyone but no one talks about the plight of the white lower class because it doesn’t fit with their world view of racial oppression.

    I’m not going to sit around and sit in self condemnation because others in my race may treat others unfairly. I accept the grace and freedom of the cross, and as Jesus said, ‘go and sin no more.’ Where there is clear injustice, I’ll stick up against it, but there’s no point in having a racial pity party. I’m forgiven and I’m free in Christ and so are you! Thats the good news of the Gospel.

    Reply
  18. somasoul

    *WARNING!!!! RASH GENERALIZATIONS AND GROUP THINK COMING YOUR WAY!!!!*

    This thread is all sorts of off track but if I can keep it off track for one more moment:

    When I worked selling cell phones I had to run credit checks. More often than not blacks failed credit checks. I know I wasn’t doing anything to make them fail. I entered the info into a computer and it brought back a result of either accept or deny. Why would Verizon want to deny a potentially paying customer?

    Most often blacks would fail. And almost always they would make some side comment as to why it might have failed. For over 4 years I heard comments like: “Well, I had Sprint but they over charged me so I dropped ‘em.” (Didn’t pay their bill) Or “That bank overdrafted my account” (Wrote too many checks. Didn’t check balance). (By contrast white customers, even if they felt slighted or overcharged, would pay the bill to keep their good credit standing)

    A couple years ago Sprint started accepting credit challenged customers. And you could see a line of people in front of the store before it opened on Saturday Mornings waiting to pay their bill.

    I had a similar experience working in rural Virginia with poor whites. (Bought trailers with cash! Didn’t pay credit card bills.)

    I’m hardly an expert on matters of credit and lending institutions. But when you pair my meager first hand experiences with blacks with my meager first hand experiences with black comedians and my meager first hand experiences with white trailer park people…………I’d say they are, economically, about the same.

    So when I hear things like blacks can’t get good home loans I really start to wonder………”who got those numbers?” and “what, exactly, is their agenda?”

    Reply
  19. dave

    Umm… wow?!?

    I am not really sure what to say after that last comment.

    First of all, white people are clearly in a place of power and privilege, even if you only sell light bulbs. Sorry if you don’t get that.

    Second, on home loans, start actually doing some research if you want to really wonder where they got their numbers and what their agenda is. The facts are quite clear that there is a bias in the mortgage industry, and that minority populations receive the bulk of the bias.

    Reply
  20. somasoul

    Hey now, I warned you of vast generalizations!

    (Then again, isn’t it a vast generalization to call all white people “racist”? Whatever, I know how these politically correct games work. I should have known better.)

    Anyway, off to sell some lightbulbs. Who wants to buy some “soft-white” lamps? The “soft-white” obviously indicates that white people are “soft” and soft is better. White supremacey!!!!

    Reply
  21. dave

    Then again, isn’t it a vast generalization to call all white people “racist”?

    Sure… but where did anyone say that all white people are racist?

    Reply
  22. somasoul

    Someone had mentioned before that all whites support a white supremacist worldview. With that worldview blacks can’t get loans, get tried for crimes, etc, etc. If supporting such an unfair institution isn’t racist then I don’t know what is.

    Reply
  23. dave

    The real oppression comes from social and economic status much more than race.

    That is a pretty strong assertion. I think that it is quite clear that BOTH economic/social status AND race are factors in oppression. This has been shown over and over again in studies of job applicants, the criminal justice system, home loans, etc.

    Further… I still don’t see any person in this thread saying that all white people are racist. Now… is supporting an unjust, unfair, and racist institution racist? It can be, no question. But I also think that we need to consider what it really means to support an institution, and we also need to consider what it means to be aware of the injustice of such institutions and systems.

    Reply
  24. somasoul

    I disagree with you entirely on the subject of home loans (“I’ve often wondered how you would ever get an entire industry to collude on a discriminatory practice.”
    ). Criminal justice is something else entirely and a subject I would probably agree with you on a lot. I’m sure the issue of jobs is one that could go in many directions.

    But after many studies it’s been proven that short people are less likely for promotions. At a stature of 5’4 I’m likely to be discriminated against. But I don’t make an issue of it. I don’t call names. I go in and do my job unless I’m here bickering with you.

    In the meantime I think the rationale that all white people are white supremacists is exactly the kind of thinking that Advocacy groups want. What better way to promote their radical agendas then to get all whites to admit to their racist ways or, if they fail to disclose them, then they are branded a “racist” for denying their own discriminations. Now everyone’s a racist!!! And since everyone is a racist the NAACP can go on existing.

    (Government plays this game too. FUN!)

    Reply
  25. dave

    I disagree with you entirely on the subject of home loans

    Why? Why do you disagree? I really don’t have time to find all the studies and reports that have shown rampant discrimination on issues related to home loans and other housing issues, but I would really like to know what your reasons for disagreeing are based on.

    In the meantime I think the rationale that all white people are white supremacists is exactly the kind of thinking that Advocacy groups want.

    Still trying to figure out who said this.

    Reply
  26. somasoul

    Dave said: “In the meantime I think the rationale that all white people are white supremacists is exactly the kind of thinking that Advocacy groups want.

    Still trying to figure out who said this.”

    Start here:
    J Alan Meyer said: “No white people are “innocent” of racism, and that includes myself (and you).”

    Reply
  27. somasoul

    Let me change sides in our racist flame war for a moment:

    NC cops have been accused of hitting black suspects with their SQUAD CAR!!!
    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,339908,00.html

    One trooper was suspended and ordered to go through diversity training. Another was suspended for three days. In both instances the driver intentionally hit a civilian suspect that posed no threat. In one instance, the one who was required to go through diversity training, used a racially insensitive term.

    If I hit a man with my car I’d be carted off to jail. Cops do it and they get suspended.

    Cops who use racially charged jargin shouldn’t be in a position that requires them to fairly discern criminals. Both of these guys should lose their jobs.

    I think, on that, we can all agree.

    Reply
  28. folknotions

    Apparently the “Assigned Reading” tab at the top of the sidebar is no longer browsed through prior to becoming a contributor to this blog. If that were the case, I wouldn’t have to read absurd things about “blacks” not paying their bills or overdrawing their accounts, followed by a mere sentence on those hilly-billy folks in Virginia doing the same (not your words, but the tone rang true).

    Here’s better proof than any other that white people have privelege in the US: Of the Fortune 500 companies, 494 of them have white CEO’s. In case you didn’t catch how big that is, 99% of the top companies in the US are run by white people.

    http://www.civilrights.org/press_room/buzz_clips/civilrightsorg-stories/op-ed-the-exit-of-black-ceos.html

    In case you weren’t sure, more than 1% of the US population is non-white.

    I’m surprised there hasn’t been some administrative action on your incredibly inflammatory “vast generalizations” made about your “first-hand” experience working for a phone company which was then clothed in the sheep’s wool of “this is my meager” experience and a mention of possible similarities with white people.

    You basically perpetuated some serious stereotypes of people of color, as you have no substantial proof that you were talking with a representative number of black folk, or of white folk. You didn’t even mention that you walk into that situation with your own privileged point of view.

    Talking the position that “advocacy groups are dumb” smacks of privilege. Only someone who occupies a place of power would question the efforts of groups that try to represent marginalized people (such as the NAACP). You can look at them from a distance and judge what they believe from a vantage point.

    Did you even bother to go to the NAACP website and see what their legislative action is? Take a look: they back a lot of educational initiatives, health care, etc.

    Reply
  29. somasoul

    I’m sorry I’m not the person you want me to be.

    Reply
  30. folknotions

    somasoul,

    I assume that is a response to my comments and I think it is a poor response indeed. You may think it clever to turn this into a me vs. you thing and that I am telling you to be something you aren’t, but I’m not going to stand for you making generalizations about an entire group of people. And then to make it seem like I am being the jerk and you take the moral high ground? “I’m sorry I’m not the person you want me to be?” What kind of a response is that?

    If you post something with a title like “advocacy groups are dumb” and then don’t expect people to openly comment/criticize your point of view, then I would honestly prefer you didn’t post at all.

    Reply
  31. somasoul

    I’m sorry I don’t think exactly like you. I’m sorry I didn’t make my post exactly the same way you would have made it. I’m sorry I didn’t write more about poor whites in Virginia. I’m sorry I’m white. I’m sorry I’m straight. I’m sorry I’m male.

    Once, when I was 15 or so I was downtown. In a very black part of town. I was working. A fellow employee and myself were surrounded by a large group of young black males. They started pushing us around and threatening death for being white and in their neighborhood. I should have, at this moment, explained to them power dynamics and how I, being white, held all the power and that they could imagine killing us for being white but could actually do no such thing. Instead, another black neighbor came out and broke it up. We spent the next 20 minutes hiding behind a car wondering if we were going to die.

    One of my friends went to a mostly black public school in Baltimore County. One day the black students thought it might be fun to beat up white kids and had a beat up whitey day. My friend was beat down for being white. He had to change schools because it was too dangerous to be white at that school.

    Power is based on perspective and situation. Pardon me if I don’t buy into the white people are all powerful mantra. I don’t buy it. Please excuse my ignorance.

    Reply

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