Susan G Komen stirs up a hornets nest (Updated, again)

Pecos wilderness

Many, many years ago, I was out in the Pecos wilderness with several of my classmates. We found out, first-hand, what happens when you stir up a hornet’s nest. We were walking down this trail single-file. All of us were city slickers and most of us did not really appreciate being out in the woods. Therefore, we really were paying attention to our surroundings. Suddenly, one guy grabbed his leg and ran off the trail screaming in pain. A few seconds later, the guy behind him did exactly the same thing. It turned out there was some sort of hornet’s nest in the middle of the trail. The first two or three guys walked down the trail that the hornets stirred up. The middle of the group got stung. Those of us who were lagging behind saw the commotion and took a different path. In the end, everybody was fine, with the exception of a few stings. In this highly charged political atmosphere, one would figure that a major fund raising foundation would steer clear of hornet’s nests. Not the Susan G Komen Foundation for the Cure. On Tuesday, they decided, for purely political reasons, to stop funding Planned Parenthood. There was significant blowback. Today, they are in 100% damage control mode and almost  reversed their decision. This was a major announcement that did very little to guarantee future funds for Planned Parenthood.

We needed a pink gun, did we??

We live in an era in which nothing is exactly as it seems. Just a couple of years ago, the average American thought that British Petroleum really cared about the environment. They had a charm offensive which included more than five years of commercials filled with environmentally friendly talk. It only took one oil well and a completely tone deaf CEO to show America that British Petroleum was no different than any other major oil corporation. The Susan G Komen foundation had completely infiltrated the American psyche. They equaled breast cancer awareness and treatment. Even the NFL had one game where players would support the Foundation by wearing pink shoes or pink gloves or even have pink towels hanging from their waist. Personally, I have purchased golf balls, baseball caps and other merchandise which sported the Susan G Komen logo and supported breast cancer awareness and treatment. I have personally given money to people who have run in their multiple, well-publicized, “race for the cure” over the years. Now, that’s not happening. Millions of Americans have the same feeling. It will take Susan G Komen foundation years to recover from this strategic blunder.

In my opinion, the Board of Directors needs to clean house. The power structure of the Susan G Komen foundation needs to be fired. New management needs to be brought in if they are to convince the American public that they truly understand what the problem is. In my opinion, today’s announcement tells me that they know what the problem is, but that they don’t really want to fix it. Personally, it’s going be hard for me to pony up money to the Susan G Komen foundation ever again. I’ve already donated to Planned Parenthood, which I’ve never done in my life. I plan on making it a habit.

The Daily Kos has done an excellent job covering the to and fro of this debacle. Please check out their many posts here, here and here. Marcy Wheeler, fabulous blogger and personal friend, has an excellent post here. You can give to Planned Parenthood here.

Update: This is what anyone would describe as a bizarre episode in PR. This case just gets stranger. Ari Fleischer, Bush’s former press secretary, raises his ugly head. This just gets crazier and crazier. Komen has not been officially labelled a partisan, dead organization. I don’t see how the Susan G Komen foundation will be surviving this.

Here’s what I think is very sad about this whole ordeal. Women need an organizational advocate to raise huge sums of money to combat breast cancer. The advocate must be non-partisan and focus like a laser on breast cancer research and on helping women.

Update II:

I thought that this graphic would be helpful.

  • Jeff

    I agree Komen has significant damage here and it is amazing they didn’t see what would happen.  Then their denials that it was not political.  Well sorry it is still true that if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, its a duck.  I have supported both organizations in the past, but will turn my back on Komen until I see real reform like you mentioned.  Clean house.

  • The only chance they have of survival is to fire the executives responsible for this ridiculous partisan decision. Kudos to Cecile Richards for her compassionate behaviour through it all.

  • Bonny – 

    I think if the Foundation had reacted quickly when an opportunity to fire the top executives in for the chairman of the board of directors to put out a you tube video which talked about how the Foundation lost its way and how they are trying to right the ship. Now, I think that’s too little, too late. Progressives riled up. Planned Parenthood and other organizations can take up the mantle for women’s health and the fight against breast cancer. I think the Susan G Koman foundation is in the process of dying.

    You are exactly right to congratulate Cecile Richards and Planned Parenthood. They performed marvelously through these very difficult times.

    thanks for your comments.

  • you are so right. Thanks for comments