Re-Posting a Message from Willis Lamm, LRTC – A Definite ‘Must Read’
Posted by Texas Mustang Project on May 11, 2010
Feel free to use this if you like.
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In November 2008 I was at a meeting where a rather influential person in the anti-horse camp was lamenting that the horse advocates were making headway because of their use of the internet. “If something happened, within 24 hours these people will have 5,000 emails and letters sent out to politicians.” The point of this little speech was that the anti-horse folks had learned their lesson and were going to use the internet for their own advantage.
A few months later I was at a restaurant late at night when things were quiet and amazingly ended up at a table within earshot of some guys planning strategy. Their conversation caught my attention when I heard the phrase “those horse people.”
To make a long story short the people who want to get rid of wild horses have been getting organized. They are bringing everyone of common interest into their fold. They have developed action alert networks so they can also generate an instant flood of emails and letters. Some of these people have also carefully analyzed our camp and have identified our weaknesses and they are taking advantage of our weaknesses.
We have not been evolving at the same rate as they have and our advantage in this battle is eroding.
One of the most effective tools used by the other side is misdirection. These people are primarily motivated by profits. Profits (and losses) tend to keep people focused. The motivation of the wild horse advocacy camp is more esoteric and therefore is more easily manipulated.
The anti-horse camp knows that some in our camp are emotionally reactive and they can and do use that weakness against us. While we certainly have folks jumping to conclusions on their own, a carefully planted suggestion in the right forum predictably gets some advocates in a fuss over things that often have never happened. When we have tried to source out false rumors, they typically resolve in an unidentifiable sender with an anonymous gmail or yahoo address that managed to get on a list or mined our email addresses from one of the hundreds of bulletins in circulation.
False information can be planted in ways that make it look like it came from advocates. These guys know that some advocates are going to run with this information without checking it out. There are several advantages to the other side when they can “spike” the rumor mill. People have actually taken out gmail and yahoo addresses using screen names used by horse group leaders in some of the formal lists and forums. (There are at least three “false flag” email addresses out there with my screen name attached.)
Misdirection keeps us from focusing on and solving the real issues. The most common example is to report some clandestine or egregious act on the part of BLM. It is guaranteed that some folks in the wild horse camp will run with it. These guys know that a few in our camp are obsessed over every transgression by BLM, real or imagined. While advocates are in an uproar over nonexistent shooting of foals or nonexistent shipping of horses to Mexico by BLM, the bad guys get the spotlight directed away from them for a while and can go about unchallenged.
You can bet that these guys capture and save whatever they can to use against us. Since the real facts are generally on our side, the best way for them to challenge us is to send advocates on a rabbit chase and then point out examples when advocates got all up in arms over stuff that didn’t happen (planted disinformation.) Later they will hold up these incidents as “proof” that we’re a bunch of clueless harebrained tree huggers. Clearly when they can do that, they degrade the effectiveness of our fact based arguments.
Finally, disinformation is the most effective tool that an “enemy” has to disrupt and fractionalize an opposing coalition. Divide and conquer. This tactic has been used for centuries. In our situation those of us who recognize the need for our positions to be regarded as credible have to visibly distance ourselves from what we call the “Hysteria Corps.” We’re spending way too much time on damage control and not enough time moving this issue forward, and it’s what the other side is counting on.
Most people in our advocacy camp ask rational questions when something comes across that appears too dramatic to be true. However a percentage of every camp latches on to whatever drama occupies the moment and we certainly suffer from that infliction.
To stay focused in a direction that could ultimately help our free-roaming horses and burros we need to question everything that circulates that cannot be anchored to a verifiable and credible source. If an event or incident can be authenticated and if dwelling on it actually and materially serves to restore the standing of wild horses and burros on our public lands, then we should run with it. Cold, hard facts, not drama, will carry the day.
Here’s the bottom line.
The obsession over the Indian Lakes Rd. (Fallon) facility is a loser. While we are embroiled in something that will have no impact on public lands decisions, BLM is marching under orders to remove more horses. That’s where we need to be focused. There is illegal stuff going on, but not where we keep getting fixated. There are people behind the scenes trying to get useful information to us, and I have posted several really important things that have been going down, but everyone is fixated on a mare with a prolapsed uterus.
Last December some Virginia Range horses actually did go to slaughter through an illegal sale conducted by the Nevada Department of Agriculture. Lifesavers, LRTC, the Hidden Valley Wild Horse Protection Fund and Let ‘Em Run managed to intercept most of them, but eight young healthy horses made it through to Ole Olsen. We had the smoking gun and should have held to account those people responsible but the advocates were too busy debating Al Kane’s postmortem of a foal that died on the range at Calico.
The icing on the cake comes when some of us who have been involved in this business for decades, who live on the wild horse range, who have learned who to trust and who know our enemies, are assaulted by the Hysteria Corps for not embracing the latest line of undocumented drama.
We’re not making the headway we should be making in Congress to get our public lands policy turned right side up. We don’t have huge amounts of campaign money. We don’t have well paid lobbyists in Congress. Our only strengths are credibility and the support of the public who believe that we are morally on the right path. When we fall for misdirection, make things up and get fixated on distractions we erode our own strengths.
Finally, there are people on the other side of this issue who are unabashed and very accomplished liars. I don’t mean BLM in this instance but rather the forces that influence BLM’s policies and the decisions made in Congress. We can’t make our issues into liars’ contests. They are much better than we are and they will win.
I’m not suggesting that we should all be clones and that we don’t have a variety of perspectives on this issue. Diversity of perspective is healthy. What concerns me is the volume of fiction being introduced into this camp and that is where we are likely to self destruct.
There are real villains out there. Going after them is not nearly as dramatic as getting fired up over the rumor mill, but if we actually want to win this battle rather than just have a litany of incidents and people to yell at, we need to get a clearer view of our real and necessary targets.
You want to stop the problems as have raised concerns at Indian Lakes Rd? Then dial back the machine that removes horses from public lands in such large numbers. Recognize the symptom, of course, but focus on curing the disease.
Willis, as always, thank you graciously lending our ears to this information. I think that this has occurred more often than any of us suspect, and it is imperative that each of us make sure that we are speaking (or typing) the facts and the truth before we spin our wheels in slick mud. We could be spinning our wheels for a very long time and getting nowhere while other more important issues are passing us by. Again, thank you!