This is something that has been bothering me a little bit. I'm posting this because of Natalie Reed's recent post "Clarification" over at FtB. She spent about a paragraph on A+ (and a particularly small paragraph, at that), and this part in particular stood out to me:
There are also elements that I find uniquely troubling, such as the “with us or against us!” approach that has been explicitly forwarded by certain proponents. When people force me into that position, I usually pick “against you” (so…you know… please don’t force me into that position).
She is not the first one to point this out, but with her pointing it out, it is slowly starting to come to the forefront.
Acknowledging that this is not a majority of A+... um... people? (What's the name for each individual A+ person? Have we figured that one out, yet?)... it does seem to be an issue that is turning people who might otherwise be allies or even potential joiners themselves away. And that bothers me, to be totally honest.
A good example is Richard Carrier. Now, I do think he's being taken out of context by some people, but the criticisms accusing him of fostering this "With Us or Against Us" attitude are not completely off the mark. While he makes a strong case for what being with or against A+ means, he doesn't leave any room for the "neithers". He suggests that being against A+ means you're against social justice, which is very simply not necessarily true. Secular Humanists, Ethical Atheists, and so on also care about social justice, but might not want to be part of A+. And some people who care about social justice simply don't want a label. They are most certainly not "against us".
One of the many things that made me hate Bush II with a seething passion was the "with us or against us" bullshit he offered post-9/11 to justify his incredibly idiotic (and completely unrelated] revenge war in Iraq. I remember having the "with us or against us choice" pushed on me, and when I chose "neither", "against us" was chosen for me; and this is a very small part of the reason I refuse to participate in 9/11 memorials.
That little aside is to point out that I know what it's like to be up against such a "choice" (and it isn't even a choice at all, quite frankly). And I hate it. With a passion. It pisses me off to no end, in fact.
There are people who will join us. There are people who will declare themselves against us. Then there are people who won't take either choice, but opt for a third option or even no option at all. And it is not up to us to take those in the third category and lump them in with those who are "against us".
Criticism, when it's constructive, is a good thing. We should not only welcome it, but we should ask for it. And, to be honest, it seems to me as if, for the most part, we are. This "with us or against us" thing is a tiny minority right now. However, it's a minority vocal enough to potentially turn off allies, like Natalie Reed. So it's an issue that needs to be dealt with, and fast. Because the "with us or against us" mentality will only foster fanaticism, and fanaticism will be the death of A+.