Aug 12, 2011

How 'Bout That [Or, I will Blame A "Paid Operative" For Rhee's Terrible Judgement. Ironic?]

We've received a few inquiries from our members about a story that ran yesterday in the Huffington Post about Michelle's participation in the Willow Creek conference today.

It's a surprising story for a number of reasons. Here are the facts. The Willow Creek conference is a gathering of members of the faith community who are committed to advancing social change. So uncontroversial is this gathering that previous speakers have included President Bill Clinton and the singer, Bono. So, unremarkable is this group that Pastor Hybel, who helps to organize the conference was invited by the White House to introduce President Obama just last summer.

So, it was surprising when Michelle was attacked for "legitimizing" anti-gay positions through her participation in this conference. Indeed, The pro-gay-rights group Soulforce has worked with and praised the conference for its outreach efforts. At the same time anti-gay bigots have attacked the conference for the same outreach.

The man attacking her was Asher Huey who initiated a petition drive on the issue. Interestingly, no one ever contacted us to ask that Michelle not participate in the conference. Indeed, the first we had heard anyone had any concerns about this conference was when the Huffington Post contacted us for the story. That's right - Instead of asking us to withdraw as he ostensibly wanted, Mr. Huey went straight to the Huffington Post. Notably, others with the same exact relationship to the conference, such as President Clinton, were not attacked by Mr. Huey.

So, Michelle is attacked for her participation in a conference so uncontroversial, that not one, but two, Presidents of the United States have worked with it. She's attacked for legitimizing anti-gay positions, despite pro-gay rights groups supporting the conference for its outreach efforts. Michelle is singled out for attack, while others with the same exact relationship she has to the conference are not. She's attacked for not withdrawing from the conference, despite not being asked to withdraw. Doesn't make sense, does it?

It doesn't make sense that is until you learn that Mr. Huey is a Washington political operative who is paid by the AFT. Huey's employer, the DC-based consulting firm New Partners, has a long-standing relationship with the AFT. In fact, Mr. Huey has personally attacked Michelle on dozens of occasions on his public twitter feed.

How 'bout that? Make more sense now?

StudentsFirst believes that opportunity to the highest quality education is an issue of basic civil rights. We do not support the abridgment of civil rights, and indeed are working to guarantee them to children around the country. These kinds of distractions don't serve the advancement of those rights for anyone.

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