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Take the Activist Quiz!

May 28, 2009

On her blog, Rebecca Hamilton recently posed the ridiculous question “Is citizen advocacy at its most effective when it generates maximum ‘noise’ on an issue, or do citizen advocates need to attach particular policy prescriptions to the noise they make?” to a few different people in the Darfur advocacy community.  Not surprisingly, everyone she asked answered essentially the same way, basically saying that we need to balance the fervor and volume of our activism with demands for specific policy changes.  Duh.  But if Rebecca Hamilton says that it’s a question worth asking, then it must be!  So I’ve created a Cosmo-style quiz for you SDAP readers out there.  Take it and see what kind of activist you are!

1. In response to Hamilton’s question, Jill Savitt began “The answer is, of course, somewhere in between.”  What do you think of this response?
A. OMG!  How dare she suggest that I need to think about policy!  Thinking is hard!  LOL!
B. An obvious response to a softball question.  Why are you wasting my time?
C. Ahhh!  The “s” in “Savitt” just turned into a cobra and is trying to bite me!

2. How important is it for advocacy movements to submit documents like the recent Blueprint for Peace to policy makers?
A. The Whatprint for Who, now?  Does it require reading?  I don’t like to read.  LOL!
B. Obviously, advocacy organizations need to make it clear what they want policy makers to do.  Preferably, the document you mention would have been even more specific.
C. Have you ever killed a man?  ‘Cause I think I just did!

3. The DPAA is:
A. Some kind of band?  BTW I love the Jonas Brothers!  OMG the blond one is so cute!
B. A piece of U.S. legislation dictating that AMIS be given a stronger mandate and that the ICC be assisted.
C. A bunch of freakin’ fascists!  What I do in the privacy of my own home is my business, damn it!  Oh wait…that’s…never mind.

4. When you look at the picture below, you see:

(Flickr)

A. John Prendergast raising awareness with the help of celebrities: The only thing he should do!  OMG his hair is SOOOO dreamy!
B. John Prendergast raising awareness with the help of celebrities: A potentially useful part of advocacy.
C. A scene from my childhood!  The creepy middle-aged man is obviously hitting on those guys.  He seems turned on by the matching hats.  It looks like he’s about to offer to buy them drinks and ask them to make out.  Oh God!  The memories are so painful!  Bad touch!  Bad touch!  Bad touch!

5. In response to Hamilton’s question, former SDC board member and employee Erin Mazursky said “The activists of today are different from the activists of thirty years ago during the Vietnam era.  We are smart advocates who understand that screaming our heads off while holding simple rally signs can only go so far.”  What do you think of this response?
A. OMG so true!  We don’t just need rally signs, we need poorly conceived memorial structures half-assedly constructed out of chicken wire too!
B. That’s ridiculously insulting to an entire generation of activists – who helped end the Vietnam War, I might add!  She was an SDC employee and board member, you say?  Interesting.
C. She’s preachin’ to the choir!  I regularly go to the emergency room and scream my head off in “pain” for hours on end.  After a few visits, the doctors stop buying my act and I need to find another ER where people don’t know me.  Indeed, screaming one’s head off only goes so far.

6. Mahmood Mamdani’s book Saviors and Survivors:
A. Is a book I haven’t read.  I don’t read the book if I can’t pronounce the author’s name!  LOL!
B. Has some very important insights but, unfortunately, often gets bogged down in polemics.
C. You have a book?  Is it in hardback?  Give it to me, ‘cause I’ll totally use it to smash the giant spider that’s crawling up leg.  Ah!  It’s got a knife!

7. Sam Bell of the Genocide Intervention Network, pictured below on the left, totally looks like:

(Flickr)

A. Noah Kalina, the “A Photo a Day for 6 Years” guy!  Oh man, I love me some YouTube!  LMAO!


B. He’s about 17 years old.  Are we recruiting Darfur advocacy leaders from Gymboree now?  Next you’ll tell me this whelp is an SDC board member too!  Heh heh.  Oh, he is?! Wow.
C. He’s about to get his innocence stolen, because that’s the creepy guy from #4 on the right!  Run Sammy!  Lest you end up in a courtroom, showing a jury where the mean man touched you on one of those dolls with no face!

8. The save Darfur movement has consistently portrayed the situation in Darfur as an urgent crisis, regardless of the reality on the ground; referring to “the dire humanitarian crisis in Darfur” when others say it’s not as dire as it used to be. The continued description of the situation as an emergency:
A. Is easy for me to understand, not like that nuanced crap about declining death rates or the idea that, while the situation may not be urgent, we still need a long term plan.  OMG SOOOO boring!  Constantly hearing how dire the situation is makes me feel good about myself for helping.
B. Seems irresponsible if they honestly believe the situation could deteriorate into a major crisis at any moment, as they claim.  If the situation were to actually worsen suddenly, activists who have been desensitized by hyperbolic descriptions of the crisis may not take claims that there’s a real emergency seriously.
C. My teeth itch.

9. Hamilton is currently writing a book critically examining the impact of the Darfur advocacy movement.” If she continues asking members of the Darfur advocacy community questions like the one in the intro above, her book will be:
A. An insightful read that still treats the movement nicely.  I like that because all these advocates really do mean well and, because they have good intentions, don’t deserve to be critiqued too harshly.
B. Merely a welcome fluff piece for an increasingly obsolete movement.  No one in the movement thinks that policy prescriptions aren’t necessary, so questions like that only serve as smoke screens that distract people from the real issues.
C. Do they still make Steak-umms?

ANSWERS:

Mostly As: The Imaginary Extremist. You should rent yourself out to New Years Eve parties, because you’re a professional noisemaker.  Policy prescriptions be damned!  You don’t have to figure out legislation, that’s what politicians are for!  Grossly uninformed and proud of it, you don’t think.  You just point your moral outrage and shoot.

Mostly Bs: The 1st Percentile. Seeing as how people who answered mostly A only exist in Hamilton’s imagination, 99% of the people reading this probably answered mostly B.  All this means is that you think that policy prescriptions and “noisemaking” need to be balanced.  Don’t pat yourself on the back though; this only makes you smarter than the average Yorkshire terrier.

Mostly Cs: The Addict. No seriously.  You’re clearly on all kinds of drugs.  Don’t panic though.  All you need to do is handcuff yourself to your radiator and ride it out for about 3-10 hours, depending on what you took.  You’ll be fine.  Trust me.  Just make sure that you have a friend call you every 30 minutes to assure you that your couch isn’t trying to eat you and that there’s no evil leprechaun living in your brain.

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