Why More Americans Need to be Skeptical of Advocacy and Accountability Groups

jon-stewart-nraI applaud anyone who devotes some of their time to advocating for a cause in which they strongly believe. That’s why I got into studying and debating politics to begin with. I want to do what I can with whatever gifts I’ve been given to hopefully make some sort of a difference. But I would never call myself an “advocate” for anything besides common sense, big picture thinking and believing in facts even if they don’t happen to support what you want to be real.

But when I see advocacy and “accountability” groups with a singular focus I can’t help but think to myself, “How reliable is the information they’re giving me”? Not because I believe all are maliciously producing sensationalized or misleading information on purpose, but because it’s often difficult for someone who’s overly passionate about one particular issue to be objective when discussing it.

However, when it comes to these larger advocacy and accountability groups, that’s usually when I run into the biggest issues. These groups often become about raising money and pushing an agenda rather than honestly fighting for a particular cause.

The NRA is a prime example. While in the beginning they might have been a group defending the rights of responsible gun owners, nowadays they’re a fanatic right-wing organization comprised mostly of gun nuts that serves as nothing more than the political arm of big gun and ammo manufactures. They’re no longer a group advocating for sensible gun laws, they’re an organization actively promoting pro-gun propaganda. Just think about the last six years and their fear-mongering against President Obama. Since he was elected, they’ve claimed he’s going to “come and take away our guns,” a claim that’s almost always led to record gun sales. Except, there’s just one problem – he’s never tried to confiscate guns.

Cop Block is another one of these groups. On the surface they claim their mission is aimed at holding police officers accountable. When the group first started that might have been their primary goal, but that’s no longer what Cop Block is. This is an organization that’s now built on a platform of anti-government/anti-establishment ideologies that does anything and everything they can to slander police officers. I’m not sure how sharing memes that call police officers sociopaths, or posting comments calling them “bad guys” and “gang members” while pushing anti-government and pro-gun propaganda, has anything to do with “holding police officers accountable.” Nor do I get how writing articles that teach people how to break the law and get away with it has anything to do with ethical police behavior. But that’s exactly what Cop Block does.

Though clearly these aren’t the only two groups doing this. Which brings me back to my warning to all Americans to be very skeptical and weary of “advocacy” and “accountability” groups. Far too often the information I’m seeing many of these organizations push is so sensationalized, misleading or flat-out wrong that it begs the question, “Who’s watching the watchers”?

Because when a group has a singular focus, there’s absolutely no reason for them to be objective about anything. Why would a group such as the NRA ever admit that guns are a problem? How would that benefit their cause? The same goes for Cop Block. What drives more growth to their “movement,” bashing police officers or commending the countless good deeds many cops do every single day?

Will the NRA cover the thousands of people who die every year due to gun violence, or push the handful of stories where some “good guy with a gun” managed to thwart a “bad guy with a gun”? Will Cop Block report on the two different instances of police officers I saw helping change someone’s tire in the pouring rain the other day, or will they scrounge the internet looking for any story they can use (or sensationalize like they’ve been caught doing numerous times) to bash police officers?

And if you believe both of these groups would choose the latter in each of those instances, is that really true advocacy or partisan agenda pushing?

It’s like in politics, your best sources for facts aren’t going to be the DNC, RNC, Fox News or MSNBC. In fact, it’s getting harder and harder to trust any kind of media source.

Even here at Forward Progressives, I invite everyone to investigate anything we write and use your own judgment based on your findings for making up your mind. I feel we do an honest job at making sure what we write and the information we present is factually based, but I also know we’re not perfect and sometimes we do make mistakes. And let’s not forget, we don’t hide the fact that we’re partisan. We are a progressive website that clearly leans toward progressive ideologies. But I also must stress that there’s a huge difference between ideological partisanship in politics and blatantly pushing a partisan agenda on specific issues.

Though the difference between the two is clearly a grey area that someone could easily turn into a subjective argument. Which I’m sure many will do with this article.

Again, I have to go back to my point that all Americans need to be skeptical of advocacy and accountability groups with a singular focus. And don’t take my word on that, or even trust theirs – trust yourself. If you follow one of these kinds of groups, just be sure you are researching the information they’re giving you. Never count on anyone to tell you what is or isn’t real, especially if much of the information that they’re providing almost always supports “their side” or is frequently presented with outrageous or sensationalized headlines.

Because in this new world of revenue driven media and advocacy, “truth” far too often takes a backseat to what “sells” the best – and, sadly, what sells the best isn’t always the truth.

Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.


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