Sunday, November 03, 2019

#14 -O'Sullivan's Law Hits Habitat For Humanity

From  2006.  Since then I have learned that it is very similar to the second of Robert Conquest's Three Laws of Politics.


John O'Sullivan, columnist and former editor of National Review offers this proposed O'Sullivan's First Law: "All organizations that are not actually right wing will over time become left wing." As examples, he offers the ACLU, The Ford Foundation, and The Episcopal Church.

John Leo, whose article here explains O'Sullivan's Law, offers "Leo's amendment to O'Sullivan's First Law: Any organization with 'women' or 'girls' in its title will tend to become part of the cultural left in general and the abortion lobby in particular." He offers as additions to O'Sullivan's Law The Anti-Defamation League, The Girl Scouts, and UNICEF.

Other organizations have been added to the list over time, including Man In The Middle’s annoyance at Consumer Reports magazine, AARP, and the League of Women Voters. (He also adds in the Heifer Project, based on an incident I hadn’t heard of. A shame.) All three essays above include some discussion as to why all this happens.

Habitat For Humanity has long been a favored charity for lefties, but at its outset, tried to be nonpartisan and evenhanded. It seemed for awhile to be an excellent place for conservatives and liberals to get together and do some good. It shows generosity to the poor, while not enabling poverty. I still think the sweat-equity, community participation, interest-free loan method to be excellent on many levels. I’ve even been able to overlook Jimmy Carter’s dishonest political claims because HFH is such a good idea.

And we have excellent connections to Habitat Romania. It is based in Beius, where sons #3 & 4 were once in Iosef’s Orphanage, and where all of us (especially son #2) worked this summer. The person who runs Habitat there is in fact a relative of the people who run the orphanage my sons come from. Chris, my youngest son, was in a Habitat World group photo in Beius before we adopted him, and I have suggested that he work for Habitat instead of the orphanage this summer for his mission trip. We dropped by last summer’s Habitat project, and ran into that work group in both Romania and in Budapest.

Yet I have grown weary of HFH’s increasingly leftward tilt. The latest issue of Habitat World (also available online) cannot get off the first page without launching into the badly slanted statistics about poverty in America, the minimum wage, and CEO salaries. Hellooo, Habitat! CEO salaries are completely irrelevant to your mission. Attention! Even if your data about wages were not deceptive, it would still be not your calling to be putting your efforts there. People donate money to you because they want you to build houses.

HFH is now proudly joining the ONE Campaign, a coalition of “humanitarian” groups which hopes to Make Poverty History. Habitat has “increasing interest in advocacy and outreach.” Its new partners are “veteran activists.” Like those are good things?

To keep up with its new friends, Habitat For Humanity latest issue has to make sure it works in the cost of the Iraq war, Hurricane Katrina exposing the lack of transportation for the poor, and that “inequality is greater than it’s been since 1929.” Really? 1929? Do you have any editors able to think for 15 seconds before sending something like that to press?

They still do good work. They still build houses and they’ll still get our money for awhile. But as the advocacy people and the coalition people increasingly take over the board, the magazine, and the organization, the building people will become less important. And long after the final scene of Animal Farm replays in the HFH boardroom, people will still be sending money in the false belief that they’re building houses.

Keep your eyes open, so that you notice your personal point of departure when it occurs.


Anonymous said...

O'Sullivan perhaps understated his First Law. Maybe it should read "All organizations that are not actually right wing will, in a short time, become left wing.

If you look at HFH it has become increasingly left wing almost from it's inception. Methinks that is one of the things that drew Carter to it in the first place. Now, that is not saying that HFH doesn't do good work, but the work that it does is more because of the grass roots workers and not the leadership.

DRJ said...

I'm not familiar with the history of Habitat for Humanity. Has it been moving progressively left or do you think it's prominent association with Jimmy Carter has helped move it leftward?

jw said...

gm roper: You make a good point in saying that the good is done by the grass roots volunteer and not by the increasingly left leadership. I think this is true for most charities.

My own personal bug-a-boo being Amnesty International wherein the volunteers still do good work for all: The leadership, on the other hand, are so strongly anti-male that little if any real work is done at the top levels.

Herein is the problem --and it has its analog on the right-- charity top levels seem to get so bogged down in politics that they lose sight of what they are supposed to be doing.

Barb Hungerford said...

I first read of you over at Naked Religion so I stopped here to see what you had to say. Good post on HFH. Good reminder that we should always keep track of those charities that on the surface appear to be "pillars" so that we make sure they stay pure.

Thought your last line was very important: "Keep your eyes open, so that you notice your personal point of departure when it occurs."

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Dr. Mercury said...

(AVI - your 'Man in Middle' link is broken)

Nice article, bud. I think I'll elaborate on it on Maggie's. There are three or four huge fields that weren't mentioned that deserve coverage. Look for it in a day or two. Working title is 'Nowhere To Turn'.

Anonymous said...

Would the USA be a good example of the woman rule? It seems the growth and leftward trend of politics started with women's sufferage.

Korora said...

For when the pendulum swings the other way, I would generalize this to say that any organization not overtly against the intellectual fashions of the day will drift towards them.

james said...

A quartet of possible rabbit trails:

I wonder if this applies to all organizations, or only those with social goals.

It reminds me of Rodney Stark's claim that the it is the ecclesiastics, and not the average church-goer, who tries to move a church from a "high tension" relationship to the rest of society to a "lower tension" relationship. The clerics are more likely to turn atheist than the congregants.

Since the administrators of an organization with a lofty-enough hierarchy won't be living in the same "society" as the rank and file, if their society is leftist (as with our elite institutions), they will tend to drift that way.

Since the current configuration of "leftist" has a strong tendency to mean both "centralized control" and "sexually permissive", it isn't hard to see the appeal of each to an administrator's vanity and sense of entitlement.

Anonymous White Male said...

HFH from the beginning built houses for a disproportionate number of blacks. You can argue that this is because blacks are more likely to be poor and unable to provide a home for themselves, but any organization that engages in "identity politics" will always shift left. Except the KKK, but they don't have an outreach arm whose purpose is to generate donations. Also, groups that actively seek donations will always be converged because the gravy is just too tempting to the "Brotherhood of Man" types.

RichardJohnson said...

My own personal bug-a-boo being Amnesty International wherein the volunteers still do good work for all: The leadership, on the other hand, are so strongly anti-male that little if any real work is done at the top levels.

Claudio Veliz's article in the origins of Amnesty International is worth a read."The True Genesis of Amnesty International,"Quadrant Magazine (2007.

Sam L. said...

It's certainly true for National Review.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

They remain conservative. They don't like Trump. I don't see that as the same thing. I am clear that you do see those things as deeply related, but I just don't.

Trump as been more successful at some conservative things than conservatives have been in a generation, and he deserves credit for that. He remains a populist with traditionalist, patriotic leanings.