For all of our talk about ‘allies’ sometimes it’s the people we least expect that can fail us when the rubber hits the road. These are people who might talk a liberal game, but are so convinced of their righteousness that they don’t listen. They may share articles from The Pool or Huffington Post on Facebook, but when it is time to take action, they are remarkably quiet.
Try to pull a fake ally up on their behaviour and, without fail, they will reflect the problem back onto you. Here come the accusations of being aggressive, no you don’t understand the situation, and can’t we all just get along?
Martin Luther King talked about these exact people in his Letter From Birmingham Jail. He called them “white moderates.”
“I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Councillor or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice […]”
It seems that MLK found this behaviour hurtful too.
Sure, people make mistakes and fall down, but that is never the same as someone wilfully going on about what’s wrong with the world when they are blind to their own attitudes making the world worse.
Remember, just like anything else, when it comes to allies there are some fakers out there. Few things hurt more than thinking someone ‘gets it’ only to realize they are actually just into their own image as a progressive. Best to walk away very quickly.