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04/03/2013

Why the National Organization For Marriage fails; well, one reason

by Jeremy Hooper

Look, they surely wanted tens of thousands. For a national march in D.C., a crowd of five figures or more is always the goal. When you have a national pool from which to recruit potential attendees, you have to aim for such heights. This is especially true when you are talking about the single issue on which your organization focuses and an event that you (and your forty-two cosponsors) pretty much made your only organizational priority for more than a month.

But okay, say you only get about 2,000 (at height). That's still something. It's certainly not a complete and utter failure. If it's the first year of your event, then that number could be seen as a starter figure. You can also factor in the day of the week (Tuesday) and the religiosity attached to the time (both Passover and Christian holy week) for some added reasons why your attendance might have been a little lower. At least if you start with some figure that's in the ballpark of honesty, you can move forward with a conversation about what you did accomplish, why your event mattered independent of crowd size, and what you hope to do to build further momentum. These are the kind of things you want to talk about in the days following your event

Unfortunately, that's not at all what the National Organization For Marriage did. Hours after the recent "March for Marriage" concluded, NOM Communications Director took to Twitter and declared that 15,000 had showed up on his side. Then over the next few days, we got altered figures from NOM before they finally settled on "more than 10,000" (their current claim). NOM staffers made (and make) these claims despite the fact that actual human eyes (including my own) witnessed the event, actual conservatives who support NOM have posted to NOM's own web properties that the actual figure was less than 3,000, and people like me have documented their own attendees (one who is himself a movement leader, in fact) expressing disappointment at the small crowd. NOM, as an organization, has stuck with its guns even though the post-rally misfires are would make Elmer Fudd look like a successful hunter in comparison.

This is what NOM does so wrong. This is why NOM so reliably fails on the organizing front. By building all of their messaging on the foundation of spin, lies, responsibility-shirking, self-victimization, or any of the other skewed tools that we have all picked apart for the past six or more years, they shoot their intended message right in the foot(note). NOM voices know by now that people like me (and many others) are watching their moves and are going to pick apart their spin, yet they continue to do it. And then they wonder why the media greets them with a raised eyebrow (at best) and staunch repudiation (at an increasingly common clip)? NOM, kids—you made this damn bed, not us!

NOM's social media team is currently on Twitter asking followers to tweet the hashtag #DishonestMedia, the implication being that mainstream outlets ignored their supposedly major march:

Screen Shot 2013-04-03 At 5.16.28 Pm

But that shriek you hear? It's hypocrisy going to die. The truth is that NOM's reliably foundation of dishonesty is the very reason why anyone who truly pays attention to NOM's operations reacts in the way that we do! I've said it many times before: As a gay man, I obviously have problems with NOM—but as a lover of American politics, I find NOM's cynical, divisive, and outrageously deceptive political practices to be almost as bad as its organizational mission. While it's true that NOM's pro-discrimination cause would be failing regardless, the day-to-day operations certainly haven't done them any favors. I actually know of bona fide social conservatives who find NOM shady. They just so obviously are, even their own should-be allies have taken note.

So here we are again. Everyone else is to blame. It's not NOM's fault because it's never NOM's fault. They, according to the narrative that they try so hard to push (and hashtag, as it were), are always the long-suffering, unfairly maligned, martyr-like protagonists of a morality play—one where a cadre of supposed antagonists are dedicated to making their lives harder. Even though they are the ones who operate for the sole purpose—THE. SOLE. PURPOSE.—of stopping other people's rights, happiness, and general welfare, they position their small band of "culture warriors" as both defenders of all that is joyful and defecators of only that which smells of roses.

And that's just one explanation for why people genuinely loathe and reject this special interest group in a particularly heightened way. There are surely others. Like, oh yeah—the whole wrong side of history thing.

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