Claire Wolfe writes "In Praise of the Uncompromising Bastard," a tribute to Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership's founder, the late Aaron Zelman, a pointed commentary on compromise, and her last article for the group due to her resignation, following a blistering criticism after posting news of a pending takeover of the group by the Second Amendment Foundation .
SAF's Alan Gottlieb, who provided an exclusive response quoted in yesterday's Gun Rights Examiner column, has responded directly to her earlier charges in a follow-up comment posted under that piece.
Claire had this to say, among other things, about my report:
When he sent me a link to the finished piece, I told him the one thing I wished he’d done was not take Gottlieb’s claim about KeepAndBearArms.com at face value. Gottlieb didn’t save KABA; he wrecked it, as several people here have noted. I even blogged the former owner’s regrets about selling out to Gottlieb.
I've seen several others level similar charges, using KABA as their example. While I was not in a position to know what the former owner was promised that he may be claiming did not materialize, I am in a position to share my perspective based on years of intensive involvement with the website and its numerous groundbreaking efforts.
I not only had many articles posted there, but was involved at the core of many of the projects, from the Silveira lawsuit (and boy, did we catch heat for that!), to the Ashcroft Petition, to the anti-Project Exile Coalition, to arming the pilots, to opposing Schwarzenegger, to challenging NRA politics, etc.
That stuff is, by and large, still there. My read on what happened after KABA was sold: Angel Shamaya was the engine and the hub that made everything happen, had the contacts and loyalties, and put in the insane uncompensated hours and crawl-over-broken-glass determination to pull it all together -- and when he left, those he had established relationships with did also. It wasn't a matter of putting just a warm body in that slot -- it had to be Angel. (And perhaps with JPFO we'll find it has to be Zelman?)
Has KABA had potential that's been allowed to go untapped? Unquestionably. I don't argue that it's not a shell of its former self and wish I could wave my magic wand to fix things. But the reality is, that would take significant additional money to capitalize on, and to find and compensate a powerhouse person with credibility and established relationships to lead the effort to reestablish leadership relevancy. Who could that be (who would not raise factional protests), where would that come from, and what would those who vocally object to SAF-style fundraising solicitations have to say about the constant appeals that would be needed to make it succeed?
I also have some background I'm not free to share on other groups SAF has helped but has not come in and tried to force a change in principles or policy. Whatever one thinks of Gottlieb, he is a shrewd businessman, and I believe he knows that the takeover would have raised all kinds of ruckus even had Claire never gone public before the JPFO deal was to have been announced. My assessment is, the last thing he wants is to confirm worst suspicions.
Is there a way out of this mess?
I have no idea. I'm reminded of an Indiana Jones line from "Raiders of the Lost Ark."
I'm not going to sit here and try to patch up differences people have with Gottlieb. I've had them myself in the past, and I'll be surprised if I don't have them again. I have good friends who can't stand him, and think I'm being duped by not joining them in that assessment, and for giving him credit when I think it's due him.
Here's the thing: I've talked to the guy many times, face-to-face, on the phone, and via email conversations, and it's easy for those who have not to draw a portrait based on the impressions of others who may not have.
I had a good relationship with Aaron Zelman, too. Guess what: I didn't agree with him on everything, either.
And I'm not going to condemn Claire Wolfe for taking an action I know to be principle-based and required no small amount of courage, even if I'm not embracing her conclusions. She would not take a paycheck for her final article. That tells you something.
I don't presume to be smart enough or influential enough to play peacemaker in this. What I'm interested in doing is helping, and seeing that positive efforts toward liberty are promoted and supported. So all I can do is that which I've said from the start, from before the JPFO news became public knowledge: I will continue my efforts for the organization until such time as someone tells me they don't want me to, or until I come to see that my faith has been misplaced.
If I feel further association is untenable due to changes in organizational principles, interference, censorship, control issues, you name it, I'll bail too. For now, I have to give a presumption of innocence and then examine unfolding evidence before I can reach a personal verdict
And yeah, I get that all I may have done here is get supporters of both sides mad at me. You don’t like it, guess how much I care. If I were doing this to be popular, I'd be writing about celebrities.
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The seat of government is a mighty curious place to set up a Constitution-free zone. “On-Again, Off-Again” is my latest GUNS Magazine “Rights Watch” column, noting the bizarre turns taken to date in the Palmer case.
My latest JPFO Alert, “Armed black demonstrators display egalitarian diversity of right to arms,” notes the folks accused of intolerance are actually the ones being inclusive -- and the ones doing the accusing are actually the narrow-minded bigots. Funny how that works.
What good is a right if government can get away with whatever infringements they want? “Court Upholding Ban on Militia-Suitable Firearms Ignores Key Second Amendment Purpose” is my latest offering on The Shooters Log.