What’s An “Activist”?

May 6, 2013

Journalists go wobbly over use of the term “terrorist,” but not so when it comes to the word “activist.”

For many journalists, there is nothing nobler than the activist, who, in their mind, is devoting his or her life to a chosen cause.  It’s not a real job title, but journalists use it anyway.  Activist is code for “good guy.”

We have environmental activists, anti-war activists and union activists.  We have activists from Occupy Wall Street, who thought that sleeping in tents and being a public nuisance would change the world.  We have political activists, religious activists and women’s rights activists.

Usually, activists are on the left, although the Tea Party now has its share of activists, too.  However, you won’t find any management activists to balance the union activists.  Those who think a strong military is the best way to stand up to the thugs of the world are never referred to as activists and neither are those who think it’s more important for the U.S. to become energy independent than it is to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on alternative energy technology that doesn’t work.

Do Activists Really Do Good?

Have you ever read a negative word about an activist?  Being described as an “activist” generally gives a person a free pass in media circles.  But do these do-gooders really do good?

Some do, no doubt, but examples to the contrary abound.

Consider the Union Neighborhood Assistance Corporation (UNAC), now known as the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America.  When it was founded in 1988, UNAC’s Bruce Marks sought to convince banks to lend money to poor people to buy homes.

Marks was quoted by media, locally and nationally, almost daily.  After his attacks on banks, whose lending practices he called “discriminatory” and “predatory,” bankers relented and started lending to people who couldn’t afford homes.

Banks also started paying more attention to the Community Reinvestment Act, passed in 1977, but strengthened during the Clinton Administration.  This soon evolved into the no-doc mortgage, which resulted in record foreclosures and the housing disaster that began in 2008.

It’s a stretch to blame Marks for the housing collapse, but his organization’s effectiveness at forcing banks to lend more to those who could not afford housing is indisputable.

Marks is just one example.  Activists, of course, were also responsible for killing the nuclear power industry, stopping (or at least delaying) the Keystone pipeline project and bringing us ethanol, which has questionable environmental benefits, but decimates farmland that could be used to feed people instead of marginally reducing “climate change,” if it even has that benefit.


Speaking of the world’s hungry, activists are also responsible for harming the bio-agriculture industry, as well as the pharmaceutical industry.  They regularly prevent the use of biotechnology to improve the nation’s crops, even though anyone with an eighth grade science education understands that changing the genetic makeup of crops has no health consequences.

As for the “activists” who prevent research scientists from experimenting on rats and other animals to discover cures for fatal diseases, perhaps we should experiment on them instead.

Just because activists believe in a cause doesn’t make them right.  Activists are often self-righteous blowhards who seek to impose their will on the rest of us.

Activists typically work for non-profit organizations, which are tax exempt and are, therefore, supported by your tax dollars.  Why should they get a free ride with my tax dollars and why should they get a free pass from the media?

What we really need are some anti-activist activists.


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