Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Extreme labeling in politics, religion, or government... suspicious?

US Navy 070720-N-4954I-048 Dr. Dana Braner, pa...
US Navy 070720-N-4954I-048 Dr. Dana Braner, part of the non-governmental organization Project Hope...(Photo credit: Wikipedia)


The too-popular habit of extreme labeling signals frustration, desperation, or fear, or hatred. (The worst extreme labels could remind you of "fire off the mouth before loading the brain" syndrome; I've suffered this on occasion.)

My suspicious attention went recently to two news items.    

First, I heard the report that some Russian officials would like for non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to register as foreign lobbyists, although that is a far extreme from what NGOs usually are, being disaster relief, although some are human rights. NGOs include more disaster-relief organizations than I could name here, groups we tend to take for granted, such as Project Hope, pictured at work above. NGOs are involved in crises around the world.

Second, I read that at the U. S. Episcopal Church's meeting in Indianapolis the Diocese of New York proposed funding a committee to take a closer look at the Washington, DC-based Institute of Religion and Democracy (IRD) and other (unnamed?) organizations labeled extreme right wing or "right wing."
     Unlike NGOs, IRD is primarily a reporting and editorial organization, focusing on religious freedom violations and human trafficking, internationally. You or I might not always agree with IRD religion views, yet The Right Web seems to discredit the group -- by way of its association with other conservative-opinion groups (also labeled "right-wing") like the  Ethics and Public Policy Center (EPPC), American Enterprise Institute (AEI), and publications like Christianity Today and The Weekly Standard." Source

In the first example, one sincerely wonders why someone official in Russia wants to impose a burden on NGOs--unless only for those promoting democracy?

In the second example, one sincerely wonders why the New York diocese of the U. S.  Episcopal Church would propose that the church spend money ($2,500) in a free speech country like the U. S. to study/investigate conservative U.S. nonprofit organizations, meanwhile coming close to misrepresenting the ones they want to "study."
     If the concerns are based on infractions, why not deal with entities that regulate such groups' adherence to their mandates?

It's true that before now, I never expected that reputable NGOs or non-profits would be unwelcome as such in today's Russia, which I have visited and enjoyed, or a U. S. state like New York, which I've lived in and enjoyed. Perhaps the targeted segments can be nuisances at times. Yet, they are legally registered and with oversight. If not, then there is no extreme, I opine.   

Update on the first example, Russia: 7/14/12-Washington Post-Russia approves new curbs on NGOs by Kathy Lally, page A7--"The law, ...passed 374 to 3 by the State  Duma...requires the groups to register as foreign agents and submit to exhaustive audits. The upper house is expected to approve it.
     "...The bill also requires NGOs to label any materials or literature they distribute as the work of a foreign agent, a phrase tantamount to 'spy' to the Russian ear" (italics added here for labels).
     Jim, my husband says, "Even if they're wrong, they should be able to say it," speaking of the pro-democracy and human rights views and materials by certain NGOs.
     On the other hand, Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin, have their rights, under their views.
     The rub is that Russia is getting ready to apply foreign agent and, inherently spy, labels to Russian-registered groups from the U.S., while the U. S. contributes American dollars to Russia for these kinds of purposes. "Russia has received more than $2.6 billion from the U.S. Agency for International Development since 1992, allocated for social and economic development" (K. Lally report already cited).   End update 

These two cases demonstrate extreme labeling in politics, religion, and government. This kind of extreme can appear at first to be reasonable. We, however, need to suspect labels until we know more about what is behind them--including whatever bloggers like me write about. Would not the same apply to the Russian public, as well?

Given that words wield power and that word labels can diminish legitimate thought and work, applying labels can resemble bullying. Slapped on with the glue of feverish emotions, labels also can ricochet. "Back to the source!"

Like a law of communication physics, the process does not care what "side" extreme label-ers stand on.  

Other source for this commentary: -Comprehensive Real-Time News Feed for Religion.
Interestingly, while updating this blog, I read that is an "extreme right-wing" on-line presence. I researched this claim and find no evidence of that, only what some would label "conservative" views, or views different from "liberal."  

On a lighter note: Have you read yesterday's post? Waiting for Lucy--It's Personal

Copyright (c)2012 Opinari Writers
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