Nameless and Shameless

Recently, one group that claims to represent the disabled worked to play its members like the accordions they’re not, using fear and intimidation rather than facts.

The inflammatory cover of a recent issue of the organization’s magazine is telling, but sadly such scare tactics are not unique in the world of self-proclaimed do-gooders — veteran or otherwise.

Powerful organizations seem to strong-arm the weak and those least able to see these tactics for what they are. Statements like “The budget battle between the White House and Congress put disabled veterans at risk,” while true in its broadest sense, are misleading, unsettling, and even terrifying for some.

How about “The real danger is that the 2009 appropriation could again fall well short of what is needed to make up for the deep cuts in other agencies’ budgets over the last two years.” Huh? Sounds pretty scary, but why divert attention to other agencies? Our guess is this tactic warns already-cowering members that a similar fate might befall them. Facts and reason are irrelevant. This underhanded approach makes sense if an organization’s primary concern continued relevance with members and donors.

The Award for Most Outlandish Claim by an organization goes to our personal fave, Gun Owners of America (GOA). These guys certainly can exploit an opportunity. GOA has used and continues to use the trumped-up “issue” of veterans’ gun rights as its own War-of-the-Worlds mayhem dubbing recent legislation as the ”Veterans Disarmament Act” — which it’s not and which it doesn’t. (But it certainly sounds scary.) These gunslingers have asked “How many veterans suffering from PTSD simply went to Veterans Affairs, hoping to get treatment, but now face a lifetime gun ban because of the new law?” Shocking. Frightening. Misleading.

Groups that represent the interests of veterans, gun owners or gun owners who happen to be veterans, or anyone who needs to be represented might want to consider drawing their support from a well-informed base. (Strength through knowledge!) We get that they are fighting for members and their monetary life lines, but support and funding based on marginal information and fear is detrimental to the organization over the long haul. Organizations become populated by victims instead of partners for the cause.

There is a difference between an informed member and a hostage.

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