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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Working for a cause vs. for yourself

In discussion about Gloria Allred's attempt to prosecute Rush Limbaugh at Dispatches, a commenter called Harold observed the following (the first line is a quote from another comment, to which he is responding):
Is Allred trying to give Limbaugh the upper hand in the court of public opinion?
I believe she would not care one way or another.
A group of people exist who attempt to “take over” popular progressive stances and make themselves the “only real” advocates.
In doing so, they consciously or unconsciously value their own ego more than the cause they are ostensibly associated with.
To test for this propensity, simply ask yourself –
1) “If the issue I claim to be motivated by were resolved in the way I claim to want, to the great benefit of those I claim to ‘speak for’, but I received no direct credit or recognition, would I be happy?”
2) “Can the issue ever be resolved to my satisfaction, or will I ‘up the ante’ any time a resolution seems near, even if the resolution gives what I previously seemed to be demanding?”
3) “If people I don’t like for some reason actually support my side of the issue I claim to be motivated by, do I react by angrily trying to ‘disqualify’ them from being ‘true’ supporters, rather than forming common cause with them (on that issue)?”
If the answer to any of these is “yes”, then you are not really exactly an advocate for gender equality, gay rights, animal welfare, or whatever it is. You are actually an egotist, who prefers that the injustice you claim to object to continue, so that you can continue to pose as a crusading martyr. And in this way, you are consciously or unconsciously a strong ally for those you claim to most oppose.
I like it. It's a test that people who find themselves acting as spokespersons for any movement should probably take for themselves periodically. That is, if they don't want others applying it for them, later on down the line.

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