I just sent off a post to a listserv discussion about J Street and AIPAC. After one AIPAC member described the organization as non-partisan, a critic shot back that AIPAC is no more non-partisan than Queer Nation or the KKK, because all the members basically have the same opinion about their #1 issue. Here’s my response to that:
Non-partisanship and diversity of opinion are two different things.
The narrow definition of non-partisanship — that it brings together both Democrats and Republicans — is actually a very good one. For example, think about the various organizations that are calling for an end to genocide in Darfur. They involve substantial numbers of both Democrats and Republicans. As far as I can tell, they do not include anyone who agrees with how the Sudanese government treats the people of Darfur.
So how about Queer Nation and the KKK? I don’t have personal knowledge of either one, but I’d guess that gay and lesbian Republicans are not likely to join Queer Nation. What makes it partisan isn’t that all the members are pro-gay, but that it only represents liberals who are pro-gay.
As for the KKK, one won’t make any friends at an AIPAC convention by comparing the two organizations. Anyhow, the KKK represents something that both parties consider repulsive, so you certainly can’t call it bi-partisan. To the extent that “non-partisan” literally means unaffiliated with any party, you could call the KKK non-partisan, but I’m inclined to say that they’re just extremists.