Wednesday, October 28, 2020


There are quite a few good polls for Joe Biden and the rest of the Democratic Party listed at FiveThirtyEight today. And then there's a poll from an obscure firm called Spry Strategies, which shows President Trump at near-parity in job favorability (49% approval, 50% disapproval) and barely trailing Biden in the presidential race (Biden 48%, Trump 46%).

When I saw this, I concluded that Spry must be a right-leaning pollster. But when I clicked on the link for the poll, I saw that it's host at -- the website of WoLF, which doesn't seem right-wing.

* That female humans, the class of people called women, are oppressed by men under a male-supremacist system called patriarchy.

* That patriarchy is organized around the extraction of resources from female bodies and minds in the service of men, including reproductive, sexual, emotional, and labor resources.

* That gender is a hierarchical caste system that organizes male supremacy. Gender cannot be reformed – it must be abolished.

* That we are enmeshed in overlapping systems of sadistic power built on misogyny, white privilege, stolen wealth, and human supremacism, and all of those must be dismantled.
So this is a left-wing organization -- but from there it gets complicated. The poll includes questions about Trump and the presidential race, but it's primarily a poll meant to elicit objections to the societal treatment of trans women as women. (Sample question: "Do you think men who are sex offenders or domestic abusers should be allowed to serve their sentences in women's prisons?") There are self-declared feminists who reject the notion that trans women are women, but it's a minority position in feminism.

So what we have here is a feminist but contrarian group hiring a pollster that is -- yes -- extremely right-wing. Click the "Clients" tab at the Spry Strategies site and you'll see Florida goveror Ron DeSantis, the North Carolina Republican Party, the Business Roundtable, and the Trump-aligned Great Amerca PAC listed. Spry's Twitter feed makes the firm's leaning obvious:

If you're a left-leaning group, why would you hire these folks?

Well, Wikipedia tells us that WoLF has worked with right-wingers before:
In 2017, WoLF partnered with the Family Policy Alliance (FPA), an affiliate of the conservative Christian organization Focus on the Family. WoLF and FPA filed a joint amicus curiae brief to the Supreme Court in opposition to a lower court ruling in favor of Gavin Grimm, a transgender male high school student who desired to use the boys' restroom in his school.

In 2019, the Heritage Foundation hosted a panel against the Equality Act featuring members of WoLF, which sparked criticism from progressives. On August 20, 2019, WoLF filed an amicus curiae opposing the inclusion of gender identity protections for transgender people in the U.S. Supreme Court case R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes Inc. v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
The head of WoLF is Lierre Keith, who (again per Wikipedia) was an anti-pornography feminist in the 1980s (which put her at odds with parts of the feminist movement and in agreement with many conservatives). She's fighting with vegans now, despite a seemingly lefty perspective on food:
Keith's 2009 book The Vegetarian Myth: Food, Justice, and Sustainability is an examination of the ecological effects of agriculture and vegetarianism. In The Vegetarian Myth, she sees agriculture as destroying entire ecosystems, such as the North American prairie. Agriculture also destroys topsoil, according to Keith.

Keith is associated with the Deep Green Resistance movement, and together with Aric McBay and Derrick Jensen, she co-wrote Deep Green Resistance: Strategy to Save the Planet, published in May 2011. The book describes itself as a "manual on how to build a resistance movement that will bring down industrial civilization and save the planet," and "evaluates strategic options for resistance, from nonviolence to guerrilla warfare, and the conditions required for those options to be successful."
I haven't listened to this podcast interview with Keith, but it promises "The Dark Truths Behind Veganism & Vegetarianism."

Is this the horseshoe theory in action? I don't really believe that the radical left and radical right are generally allies, but there seem to be quite a few lefties (and, alas, not nearly as many righties) who like to fight with people on their own side much more than they do with the folks on the other side. That seems to be what's happening here.

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