Engaged Citizens and In-Group Activists

As commenter Will noted in response to Marc’s post, Matt Jerzyk thought it worth pointing out something that surely we all noticed (indeed, on which we three mused when the photographer told us that he’d be shooting the RI Future gang the following night): that the Phoenix photos buck left/right stereotypes. In that quality, however, they do no more than express reality.
Ian elides a significant difference, I think, in his statement that we who founded AR “were motivated by a similar desire [to Jerzyk’s] to provide a broader and more consequential forum for [our] ideas and philosophy.” Here’s RI Future’s nutshell catalyst:

Matt Jerzyk launched his Rhode Island’s Future blog in January 2005 because, after having worked locally in community- and union-organizing, “I saw first-hand how difficult it was to penetrate the media cabal with progressive stories of hope and change.”

Here’s what I told Ian:

At some point in late 2003 Andrew emailed me with the suggestion of a group blog. Around that time, he was writing periodically for TechCentralStation, and I was doing the same with National Review Online. The idea lost steam at that time, but a year later, an increasing sense that things were seriously awry in our state led us to take another look at the notion.

On one side, a local activist and unionist sees blogging as a way to sell “progressive stories.” On the other side, a few opinion scribblers think there are important points to be made about local matters. Piecing together one blog is a law-school student; piecing together the other is a carpenter.
It would push real life a bit far toward fiction to make too much of this point, but the stereotype that the Left has found useful in a rebellious age is undermined by more than sweaters versus suit jackets.
(N.B. — For the record, I do not wish, with this post, to scuttle our little burst of comity, even if the Phoenix did give RI Future a color table-of-contents picture in the print edition. Bitter? I’m praying and polishing my gun even as I type.)

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joe bernstein
joe bernstein
15 years ago

It is no way unusual that many leftists come from privileged backgrounds and that many conservatives or conservative/libertarians come from very ordinary backgrounds.There are of course,numerous exceptions,but academia often breeds radicalism.The hardline unionists of the thirties wound up in many cases becoming Reagan democrats.I think that making it through hard work and experiencing some rough times brushes away the cobwebs of idealism.Living in the real world with no escape hatch back to a comfortable existence also has its effects.I don’t necessarily ascribe bad motives to people like Jerzyk,Crowley,or Segal,and certainly not to young kids like Ariel Werner,but I just don’t think they have any idea what horrible results could come from their theoretical thinking.
In the case of Steven Brown,I do believe there is malice beyond my understanding.He hates a lot of people if you ask me,and his only way of dealing with it is to try to destroy anything traditional in society.
I suspect that Crowley on the other hand was the kind of guy who dropped M-80’s into the school toilets.

15 years ago

It’s late, the Sox didn’t hit tonight, and I’m wearying of some of the points of debate engendered by my story — and perhaps you’re just being a wee bit tongue-in-cheek here, Justin. But “Ian” didn’t give Jerzyk & Co. the smiling pic on the contents page. This is like when someone — Marc, Andrew, I don’t remember — ascribed remarks a year or three back by Phillipe + Jorge, satirists under assumed names, to be spokesmen for the prevailing Phoenix philosophy (btw, note their lead item this week if anyone thinks them uber-liberals). As I pointed out then, they are columnists who express their own views. And I don’t decide what goes on the contents page.

15 years ago

Your comment, “I suspect that Crowley on the other hand was the kind of guy who dropped M-80’s into the school toilets” was perhaps the most on-target post I have read on AR in all the years I have read it. Absolutely brilliant.

15 years ago

An excellent real world perspective from Joe.
I think a lot of it is simply a disconnect between how they would like like things in their utopia to be if they had all the power, and how the real world — which has to pay the tab for all their kooky schemes — actually works. I’m sure there is also something psychological about liberals from well to do families who seem to make it there life’s work to ensure that no one else will ever enjoy the same privileges they did. Maybe it’s a guilt thing.
“I suspect that Crowley on the other hand was the kind of guy who dropped M-80’s into the school toilets.”
I was thinking that he was more likely the kid given “flushies” in the school toilets by the other school children whom he annoyed…

Justin Katz
15 years ago

Yes, that parenthetical note was entirely tongue-in-cheek. I apologize that it irked, and I’ve changed “Ian” to “the Phoenix” to be more accurate.
As for the points of debate, everybody has been complimentary of your piece, itself, and it seems to me that discussion of matters raised therein is a separate matter with which you don’t necessarily have to concern yourself, unless you find the points of interest separately from your article.

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