Against Activist Mission Creep
When activists take positions on too many issues, it's harder to get anything done
Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in. I’m back talking activism and politics in Liberal Currents with a piece titled Against Activist Mission Creep. There’s a trend where single-issue organizations are getting involved in fights beyond their scope, and I don’t think it benefits anyone.
Recently, Planned Parenthood released a statement on the Oct. 7th attacks and the broader conflict between Israel and Palestine. Their statement condemned Hamas’s attacks on civilians, and specifically condemned sexual assaults committed against Israeli women during the violence. They also noted how thousands of Palestinian women and children had been killed in Israel’s counteroffensive, stated the need for Palestinian women to maintain access to reproductive and maternal healthcare, and condemned both anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.
The social media reaction to such a balanced and empathetic statement? Furious, unrelenting anger.
The statement was quote-tweeted thousands of times by social media users outraged by the statement. Planned Parenthood was accused of spreading Israeli propaganda, ignoring Palestinian deaths and fabricating rape claims, and enabling genocide. These outraged users aren’t conservatives who always oppose Planned Parenthood – they’re progressives furious that an organization they normally support put out a statement they hated. Now there are calls to end donations and Planned Parenthood staffers are fighting with donors. Their own employees, affiliates and organizers are making public statements against them.
This outcome was predictable to anyone with even a cursory knowledge of social media dynamics. And it raises an obvious question – why release a statement at all?