Cincinnati Speaking of Change.org and its chameleon way to seeming to be a progressive nonprofit, but actually operating a for profit, list aggregation and sales operation, no sooner do we look at the contradictions and deceptions in the way they present themselves than I notice an item in the Huffington Post by Ryan Grim with Change.org in the headlines today. Seems that they did a reverse field zigzag and dropped petitions being pushed by well-known former DC Schools Super and foundation/media darling, Michelle Rhee, whose tenure was mainly marked by her bitter attacks and deliberate divisiveness with her teachers’ union and Jonah Edelman’s Stand for Children as both being unabashedly anti-union. The teachers’ unions and others had been campaigning for Change.org to oust both outfits as not being appropriate within the progressive movement.
Rhee is no surprise. She’s a total ideologue in this war and a 100% union hater-baiter. But, Jonah Edelman and Stand for Children were a gut shot to me. Not that I hadn’t been warned that he had moved to the dark side, just that I didn’t want to believe it. I had heard of his infamous crowing on YouTube about having hustled legislation in Illinois by hooking and crooking the unions there. I didn’t want to believe it. A couple of months I spent a long time on the phone with an old comrade doing strategic research for the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) who was asking me about Jonah and Stand, who pried my eyes open even wider, including that Stand for Children was pimping for arch-conservative, rapid Republican anti-union, Governor Bobby Jindal in my own state of Louisiana. Checking out their positions in Baton Rouge, it was impossible not to agree that they might be Johnny-come-lately to Louisiana education fights, but they were definitely more than willing to take the dough and carry the weight for a hyper rightwing agenda in Louisiana on education. But in the way, you go into denial, I still hoped there would be an opportunity for me to reach out to Jonah and say, hey, there must be a misunderstanding, so why don’t you get right with our community. The AFT analysis was simple: Jonah had gone where the big corporate money was, and that was in union bashing.
Now Change.org in such a matter of fact way seems to have conceded both Rhee and Edelman are plain and simple anti-union outfits. No small amount of the evidence was a petition that Stand for Children was circulating through Change.org in Illinois attacking the AFT local union for taking a strike vote for the fall. I’m heartbroken.
Meanwhile Change.org continues to write new chapters in the book on the art of dissembling! In responding to criticism of hosting anti-union anti-teacher petitions while trying to pretend to be progress, they said the following:
Change.org leaders, for their part, said they think some of the outrage resulted from a misunderstanding of the company’s goal, which is not to spread American-style progressive values around the globe, but rather to empower as many people as possible under the theory that the world will be better as a result. By not embracing American progressivism, the company said it hopes to make its platform more welcoming to people around the globe who might see such an association as imperialist or anti-Muslim.
You see Change.org was never progressive anyway. They were just a bunch of business guys willing to wear that shirt when it fit nicely and helped them pick up girls at the bar. They now want to give you a head fake about their global ambitions and pretend that around the world folks don’t care about political leanings (bah, humbug!). But, their message is that we were always confused, they were never progressive anyway.
I’m in shock about my friend, Jonah, and his organization. I thought they were progressive and certainly not corporate cash cashers like Change.org. Now it seems Change.org was never progressive according to their spokespeople. Maybe that’s the same rap for Stand for Children? Neither seem to be willing to let their values stand in their way of their ambition.