Got an interesting email today, from Jame Hamsher, at Firedoglake. Now Jane and I don't always see eye to eye, politically, but I think she's generally honest with regard to money. I also have no reason to believe the fundraising appeal in this email is in any way hinky, except for the language of the email itself. I'm highlighting the section I found strange:
Jon, Ryan and I recently visited Occupy DC to ask the demonstrators and organizers what supplies and provisions they needed most. The response was eye-opening.
A cook named Calvin told us they had received an enormous donation of eggs, but despite having a grill, they can't afford enough propane to cook with. After speaking with a few other folks, we went out and bought some of the things on their list: propane tanks, tarps to keep things dry, a tent and some ice bags and coolers for perishables.
But it was nowhere near enough, so we wanted to see if we could all work together. We're starting an Occupy Supply fund to help demonstrators across the country purchase the supplies they need to stay on the streets for as long as possible – beginning with Occupy DC.
100% of your contributions to the Occupy Supply fund will be used to purchase and distribute the goods requested by the different occupations we visit as part of our coverage. Can you donate $20 or more to our Occupy Supply fund?
Donate $20 to our Occupy Supply fund to help us buy the supplies requested by Occupy DC: propane, tents, coolers and more.
Click here to see their list and donate: https://donate.firedoglake.com/occupysupply/contribute
The demonstrators and organizers on the ground know exactly what their occupations need, and if we really want to support them, it's our duty to listen carefully and make sure our work actually meets those needs. We have to ask "how can we help?" before we lend a hand.
Many well-intentioned groups have been sending provisions to occupations without first asking demonstrators what they need. As a result, protesters like Calvin are left with a lot of eggs but no means to cook them.
But we're also deeply disturbed by some of the exploitative fundraising we've seen from establishment groups, who are now asking for donations to "help take the fight to Wall Street and keep the pressure on." I'm not sure what that means, but I'm pretty sure it won't help demonstrators last outdoors through the coming winter months.
We want to do this right, and if this works, we'll do it for all the occupations that FDL's Kevin Gosztola will be visiting as part of his premier coverage of the movement. It's our way of making a positive contribution to the movement to make sure their needs are met so they can stay out there as long as possible.
Check out Occupy DC's wish list and donate $20 or more to our Occupy Supply fund. Help us keep these historic protests going well into winter – and beyond.
I'm really excited to see how this goes. Thanks in advance for your help.
Founder & Publisher,
It's one thing to make a specific accusation against a specific group and support it with specific facts. But the above passage reads very much like "Don't send your money to any of those other groups; WE know what protesters need and only we can be trusted to do what's right." If you have information that other groups are accepting donations and misappropriating money, then say so, giving specifics. But don't just imply that "the others" may be misappropriating your donations.
Another thing occurred to me; instead of dissing other "well meaning groups" for not spending money on the right things, why aren't OWS organizers instructing those groups as to how to spend the money they collect, or setting up a central fundraising apparatus for the General Assembly?
Again; I have no reason to believe Jane Hamsher and FDL is doing anything nefarious. I have little doubt that they mean it when they claim 100% of their money will go to buying things for the OWS protesters. But this sort of fundraising appeal does look strange and somewhat suspicious, because it's a little too "competitive" for this sort of appeal. Seriously; is "give you money to us, not them; those people will just waste it" the proper tone for a progressive fundraising appeal?
Here's a screenshot of the email: