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Intolerance PDF Print E-mail
Written by Steve Dittmer   
Thursday, 22 January 2009
AFF Sentinel Vol.6#2

No one accused us of misquoting anyone - nor misrepresenting their policy positions.

Our transgression? Well, evidently AFF had spread their national affiliate's views too widely. And they didn't like our noting contradictory facts and analysis. So their reaction - even though I had never attended their meetings before - was to oust me. This, when the meeting news release stated the organizations "welcome and encourage anyone interested in participating to attend."

Was this a meeting of some exclusive (only eight members present), underground cabal of Washington political operatives? Was I trying to infiltrate some subversive group in Venezuela? Cuba? Russia?

Not exactly.

It's ironic that the very people who aggressively exploit the opportunity to express dissenting views in one organization and denounce that organization's refusal to bow to their minority opinion when outvoted - are the first ones to stifle dissent when they run their own organization. Familiar with the Colorado Independent CattleGrower's Association (CICA), an R- CALF affiliate? Most folks won't if they treat all media like this. I only came to hear their invited guest, R- CALF's Bill Bullard.

They didn't know who I was - until Bullard passed a note to the lady who was leading the group. Some light bulbs went on and gentlemen I don't know by sight looked my direction.

Their comments and questions to me were revealing. We are real cattlemen and it is tough out there, one said. Those other organizations don't stand up for real cattlemen. Well, I'm familiar with those other organizations - real cattlemen who encourage discussion and diverse viewpoints. What they will not tolerate is ignorance of the facts. And they don't eject media out of anything but an executive session evaluating personnel.

In short, R-CALF affiliates cannot tolerate the kind of open organization that tolerated them for years.

I asked if they screened media according to past writings? One piped up immediately and said they had at R-CALF. No kidding! Bullard and a pair of security guards removed me from R-CALF's convention last year. Maybe that's why there was no other media present for Colorado's cozy gathering.

One gentlemen had obviously read the AFF Sentinel, as he complained about us putting the LAG label - Liberal Activist Group - on R-CALF and allies.* As with most liberals, he hated being tagged as a liberal - even though those policies could only be classified as liberal.

They are more concerned with where someone's coming from, than facts or long-term implications. The lady punctuated that with her pointed question to me regarding AFF's funding. It is not the facts or our analysis or differing opinions that could shed light on an issue. All that matters is the source. If the opinion does not come from people they deem peers, it is illegitimate.

This reverse elitism is typical, too. The puzzle is that those who fancy themselves high-end liberal elites, like non-working John Kerry or Teddy Kennedy, share the same liberal views as the hands-on elite like R-CALF's members, who believe you don't count unless you actually punch cows yourself - and don't get successful enough to get too much bigger than your neighbors.

That's probably why their focus is on displeasure with feeders or packers. They have no truck with concerns of other segments. They are typically not active in beef council or national beef promotion endeavors. Consumers are a distant tangent.

Only after the BSE outbreak and their perception of a way to use "consumers" to further political and legal ends - really, consumer activist groups, not real beef customers - did they show any so-called concern about consumers. In fact, their first steps were to attempt - counter to scientific facts - to mislead consumers and damage consumer confidence in beef.

I explained the majority of our funding comes from production agriculture. This they ignored.

Of course, most of what Bullard would say we'll find out anyway. They'll publish testimony, news releases, Web sites and e-mails. They claim to want everyone to know they are representing cattlemen's views. Yet, just as they don't represent the majority, they mustn't want "other" cattlemen to know their policies. Is that so the majority won't know what R- CALF and its allies are telling Washington all cattlemen think? Do they fear the "others" standing up and making their positions known?

Hard telling. But while they can't really take public positions without the public finding out, they can vent their spleen on someone who disagrees. How utterly revealing.

The frightening part is some few congressmen with clout who carry their positions.

* LAG- Liberal Activist Groups like R- CALF, the Consumer Federation of American (Carol Tucker Foreman), Public Citizen (Ralph Nader) and Consumer's Union and now labor unions like AFL- CIO, United Food & Commercial Workers and United Steel Workers.

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Last Updated ( Friday, 06 March 2009 )
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