April 5, 2004

O'Sullivan's First Law

Here's a interesting article on the oft-seen phenomenon of organizations moving leftward...

The Anti-Defamation League is dedicated to opposing hatred, particularly hatred of Jews. Its recent activities include support for abortion and gay rights, backing the effort to remove Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore from the bench in the Ten Commandments case, and opposing school vouchers in Washington, D.C.

The Southern Poverty Law Center was also created to focus on hate and hate groups. Recently it involved itself in the Sierra Club elections, demanded the elimination of the Chief Illiniwek sports mascot at the University of Illinois, sued to get Judge Moore off the bench and came out against the proposed amendment to prohibit gay marriage. Its subsidiary, Tolerance.org, made news by featuring an essay complaining that the Lord of the Rings movies are too white.

Call this mission creep. A group starts out with a clear mandate that commands respect across most of the political spectrum. Gradually it moves to a broader and vaguer agenda, typically heading left. John O'Sullivan, columnist and former editor of National Review, offers us an explanation, which he calls O'Sullivan's First Law: "All organizations that are not actually right-wing will over time become left-wing." As examples, he cites the American Civil Liberties Union, the Ford Foundation and the Episcopal Church...

There's a big difference between the kind of people who start groups like the The League of Women Voters or the Sierra Club, and the sort of people who become the paid professional administrators after the first flush of enthusiasm and volunteerism has worn off. (via Betsy Newmark)

Posted by John Weidner at April 5, 2004 10:26 AM
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