The American Family Association and the National Organization for Marriage are — after white supremacist groups, NAMBLA, and PETA — two of the most irritating and divisive groups infesting America today. They also just named Obama’s safe school czar Kevin Jennings Enemy No. 1.
To be fair, both AFA and NOM have a lot of priority targets, often well-known homosexuals and the politicians who dare support them. But because they know how to issue press releases, they often get attention, or at least a cursory statement in a CNN report about fag this and homo that.
So how much damage will these organizations cause by going after Jennings?
AFA president Tim Wildmon just demanded (via press release!) the resignation of Jennings, who’s caught up in a somewhat make believe tale of teenage sex. (The facts about Jennings counseling a 16-year-old student are known; the made up stories of Jennings’ gay agenda are less certain.)
NOM is going after Jennings in a more stealthy way: NOM’s board chairman Robert George is playing spokesman for the American Principles Project’s new single-page site ExpelJennings.org, which is running th web spot at right. Is George acting on his own? Perhaps, but NOM would love to see Jennings gone, too.
Wildmon says Jennings “is not a good role model for the nation’s children, nor will he fairly represent all Americans due to his spiteful attitude toward evangelical Christians.” The website of NOM’s George says Jennings “aggressively advocates using our schools to teach children—including young children—about homosexuality and homosexual practices.”
Will their words have any effect? AFA claims 2.6 million members on its email list (though we’d like to see the open rate). NOM’s Education Fund claims 325,611 members on Facebook (though only $758 in donations?), though it’s unclear whether the Facebook group is directly affiliated with NOM. Either way, we’re guessing NOM hasn’t yet met its own “2 Million for Marriage” goal just yet.
But it’s not AFA or NOM who are effective at generating attention, but the elected officials and media pundits in their fold. Who knows how much contact Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King has with either organization, but when politicians come out swinging against Jennings, and the conservative lackeys join in on the talking points? That’s when serious people take notice.
Hate groups like AFA and NOM, while exercising some power in public dialogue, can only truly press their message when colluding with individuals that Americans actually listen to.