– by The Shitty Activist
Anyone who plays video games knows you can rack up more zombie kills with a machine gun than a sniper rifle. Sure, you miss most of the shots, hit a few innocent bystanders, and waste a lot of ammunition in the process, but spraying bullets at everything in sight means you’ll probably hit something eventually.
The same goes for activism. Why conduct the research and exercise the restraint needed to seek out the most appropriate targets for your campaign when you can just hurl accusations at everything you come across in hopes that one of them turns out to be legitimate?
Say you’re a climate activist. Record heat waves, interminable drought, and killer storms are pretty clear indications of human-caused climate change. But did you know that typical weather events can also be blamed on global warming?
For instance, a double rainbow might only be a natural product of water droplets refracting sunlight. But, with the right rhetoric, it can be a sign of runaway climate chaos.
How about a particularly loud thunderclap that sends your pet Labrador scurrying under the bed? The mainstream media wants you to think it’s just rapidly heated air, but a good activist knows its proof that ecological collapse is upon us.
Or maybe you’re a feminist fighting sexism and misogyny. Why limit your scope to, say, the sexual objectification of women in the media or forced genital mutilation, when you can blame the lack of support for a political candidate on her gender?
It doesn’t matter if said candidate has been an unapologetic warmonger, shill for the big banks, and one-time opponent of gay marriage—it’s obvious that the shape of her gonads is the reason why people don’t want to vote for her.
Or what if you’re working to end racism? Sure, you can point out the staggeringly high proportion of people of color in prison or the routine murders of unarmed black men by police.
But you can just as easily ascribe racism to the public outcry surrounding the shooting of an endangered western lowland gorilla, after an unsupervised child was allowed to climb a zoo fence and drop into the enclosure.
After all, if the child had been white, surely the same people lamenting the death of a primate sharing 98% of human DNA would’ve been calling for its head on a platter.
Now, I know some activists will argue that these kinds of activist tactics are akin to crying wolf.
That for a movement to gain credibility and trust, it must focus only on cases backed up by documented evidence that follow a logical train of thought.
That the whole “toss it out there and see if it sticks” approach to activism wastes time, energy, and resources, and is ultimately counterproductive to a given cause.
Which all sounds good on paper, of course. But what they refuse to see is that doing things their way would mean having to overcome knee-jerk, emotional outbursts to actually investigate the facts of the matter, which not only takes up too much time, but also squanders a lot of potential fodder for a given cause.
An activist should imagine their interaction with the public as if they were dating a partner who they suspect is cheating. Maybe nine wild, baseless accusations out of ten are completely false, fostering mistrust and resentment, and ultimately pushing a significant other further away from you.
But when that tenth finger-pointing turns out to be true…you’ll taste that sweet, sweet victory known only by an activist crying wolf.