People have asked me why I haven't supported groups like the Organic Consumers' Association or the Family Farm Defenders. These groups have admirable goals but their voice is deleteriously affected by "off topic" opinions.For example, Pint and Fork objected to a link on the Organic Consumers' Association website to an article about what Karl Rove may be planning in terms of an "October Surprise." I can see the point. It might be wiser for the Organic Consumers' Association to pitch itself as progressive but non-partisan.
Before I dish, let me say that I have the greatest respect for these groups when they are "on topic."... It would seem odd, then, that these groups would go out on a limb to do things that are politically controversial, completely unrelated to their mission statements, and divisive.
As another example, Nicholas criticized Family Farm Defenders for linking to the pacifist farmers' group Farms Not Arms. Here, however, I found the alliance more reasonable and on-topic. Both are small progressive farmers' advocacy groups, and pacifism is not really a partisan position. Nicholas wrote, "I consider pacifism a radical political idea, and one that is extraordinarily divisive." But that's quite an ironic accusation. Pacifism may be divisive, but the warriors of the world aren't exactly sitting around together holding hands and singing Kumbayah.
In a class on U.S. Food Policy, I teach the advocacy coalition framework, which deals with the sometimes strange and temporary alliances between very different groups that find themselves on the same side of a particular policy debate. Think of ACLU and Nazis, for example. The danger with these coalitions is that liaison with a sometimes hated enemy can alienate core loyal constituencies. The Pint and Fork commentary provides a good example of this type of hazard.
Comments are open for your thoughts about which of Pint and Fork's criticisms you agree with. Feel free, while we're at it, to voice any objections to my own occasional off-topic commentaries. I am happy to listen and even change my ways.