The fact that the Komen Foundation for the Cure has backed off (at least to an extent) its decision to cut loose Planned Parenthood is disappointing but not surprising. What is surprising is that the effort was made in the first place.
Planned Parenthood is a particular type of institution that might be called a "halo organization." A halo organization is an outfit that, thanks to the sanctity of its mission, its purity of motives, its rigorous ethics, and its unimpeachable standards, has attained the status of a sacred entity on this bitter earth. It's a kind of secular church for people who don't have churches, beyond any form of criticism or doubt. A halo organization is an archangel among institutions.
I don't have to explain to the readers of AT that halo organizations are all left-wing. There is no record of such an outfit existing in the center, much less the regions to the right. Halo organizations are a propaganda product, and as such, they naturally adhere to the left. They are also usually cranky, cultish, and devoted to agendas that have little or nothing to do with their public images.
Such establishments are usually mentioned in news dispatches with a slight pause and a lowering of the voice, as if in imitation of medieval Catholics who bent their heads at the mention Christ's name. In films, they are commonly depicted at face value. I recall a Bruce Willis picture in which he plays an oilman whose drilling rig is under siege from Greenpeace activists. He chases them off, bellowing curses, only to say under his breath, "I write you a check every year, don't I?" Ol' Bruce may be able to take down every terrorist on earth, but even he can't stand up to a halo outfit.
Halo organizations include the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and a slew of environmentalist groups -- the aforementioned Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, the Audubon Society, the World Wildlife Fund, and so forth. Media companies used to populate the same temple, with the New York Times being a premier example (recall the endings of Three Days of the Condor and Firestarter) but any such contention would be laughable today.
The halo effect began with the founding of the ACLU in 1917. Roger Baldwin intended the organization to provide legal cover for labor groups. But he was well aware that most labor outfits, unions above all, were held in contempt by the public at large due to their propensity for violence and their (not coincidental) relationships with European revolutionaries and anarchists. Any close association with such groups would lead to mass public rejection.
So instead, Baldwin emphasized that the ACLU was in the business of protecting everybody's rights, on the grounds that to defend one was to defend all. It wasn't true at the time, and it remains untrue. (Nat Henthoff, the greatest living American defender of individual rights, was thrown off the board of the New York ACLU for his fierce opposition to abortion. So much for haloes.) But the ACLU has thrived regardless for nearly a century, playing the leftist card at every opportunity, protected by a bogus reputation for courageous impartiality.
This tactic didn't go unnoticed. Planned Parenthood was the next outfit to seek a heavenly crown, though it took longer in their case. Though founded by Margaret Sanger, a truly world-class crank, in the 1920s, it wasn't until the 1960s that Planned Parenthood at last donned saintly robes, largely as the result of a campaign by a pair of officials from the Connecticut office, who deliberately violated state contraception laws in order to challenge them in the courts. Appeals ended up in the Supreme Court, where the resulting decision, Griswold v. Connecticut (1965), led to the discovery of a "right of privacy" in the Constitution that served as the keystone for the legalization of abortion six years later. As far as liberals are concerned, that action alone would have put a halo on even the Khmer Rouge. In the case of Planned Parenthood, it led to a sanitizing of Sanger's various peccadilloes, which included racism; obscene Nazi-worship; and an obsession with eugenics, a 19th-century pseudo-science derived from Darwinism which held that sterilization of "degenerates" would "improve the race."
Planned Parenthood did not fall far from the Sanger tree. Though cultivating a reputation for concern with women's health care, including breast-cancer exams, it was in fact more closely involved with procuring abortions, right down to the level of aborting victims of child abuse and statutory rape (as was adequately demonstrated in a video ambush by the group Live Action last year).
But still, that damned glow is maintained. So we get an outfit founded by a Hitler-admirer who was out to cut down the number of colored babies, and which today acts as an enabler for molesters and pimps (and which has never once carried out a mammogram -- Planned Parenthood simply makes referrals to clinics that do), being praised and supported by millions of Americans who don't know any better, to the point that the Komen Foundation feels obligated to back off a principled decision. Just as if Planned Parenthood had a perfect right to the Komen Foundation's money. That's what a nice, bright halo does for you.
Halo outfits deserve to be attacked. They are not immune, and, as in this case, the saintly façade is almost always hiding vast quantities of internal rot. Planned Parenthood to some extent is a criminal organization, and it needs to be treated as such.
But attacks on such outfits must be carefully coordinated and carried out. They cannot be made without preparation. (The Komen decision was apparently driven by a single vice president, Karen Handel, which is not enough.) What is needed is a dedicated organization, well-financed and staffed by serious and competent people. Such an effort would sponsor and oversee institutional investigations, searches through records, and even infiltration to gather facts and evidence concerning organizations acting against the public interest. Once this is in hand, then the time will come to take action, destroy the suspect outfit's reputation, shut down its funding, and isolate it from any form of public support.
Such a program is far from hopeless -- consider the current reputation of the New York Times, which seemed unassailable even twenty years ago. It simply requires a little preparation, a little strategy, and little diligent effort. After all, the left has been building these groups up for nearly a century. It'll take some time to knock them down again.
So who takes on the ACLU?