About those community organizers

The race got shaken up a bit when Palin implied that community organizing, which is one of Obama’s big resume items “proving” his executive abilities, might be a little bit too amorphous a job to justifying entrusting the entire nation to his care.  That was amusing, but things became less amusing when digging in the wake of her speech revealed that the Alinsky school of community organizing to which Obama adhered is an ideology devoted to going into communities and encourage the citizens, not to take care of themselves, but to make increasingly strident demands on government.  (See here, here and here, for example.)

Knowing that Obama’s community organizing was simple Leftist street activism, it was amusing to receive from a friend an official statement from social workers decrying the incredible insult Palin visited on them when she dared imply that “community organizers” aren’t the most useful people in the world:

The National Association of Social Workers was outraged to hear Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, one of the nation’s vice-presidential candidates, malign in a live international broadcast the work of community organizers.

The social work profession takes great pride in its community organizing roots and lauds the contributions of its members, and other professionals, who commit their careers to helping residents of different communities organize their resources and take social action to improve life for themselves and their families. Small town reformers and urban community organizers have much in common.

The concepts of community organizing, community building and community development undergird the premise of American democracy. As a result of these efforts, institutions and officials often deliver more effective economic growth strategies, as well as mental health, health, and family services for people of all ages.

Community organizing is also the foundation of most successful political campaigns. Meeting fellow Americans in their communities and working with them to find solutions to problems that limit their potential is valuable and necessary work—with significant responsibilities.

What’s especially amusing to me about that little screed is that, almost without exception, the social workers I know work for the government or large care providers.  That is, they’re not freelance rabble-rousers who go into a community, swirl up emotions, and then let government take the hit.  Instead, they work for school systems and foster care organizations and hospitals and mental health facilities.  They’re not community organizers.  That’s why it’s so funny that this organization of professionals should take upon itself the mantel of career rabble rousers, and cluck at Palin on Obama’s behalf.

(BTW, please don’t construe this post as an attack on social workers.  While the news is occasionally made more depressing by stories of social work gone wrong — usually in the context of abused children — the social workers I know socially and professionally are committed people, who care deeply about the people whom they serve.  Instead, I’m poking fun at the political ideology that would have institutional care providers suddenly see themselves as brothers in arms with Alinsky street radicals.)

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Comments

  1. suek says

    >>Instead, I’m poking fun at the political ideology that would have institutional care providers suddenly see themselves as brothers in arms with Alinsky street radicals.>>

    Take them seriously…they are the infiltration force of those street radicals.

  2. dg says

    How about Hagee church radicals? I hear he’s got some social programs going on as well… And didn’t McCain accept his nomination before he rejected it??

    In all seriousness, what is the difference between community organizers and Bush Sr’s call for “a thousand points of light” or Bush’s faith-based initiatives? Conservatives attacked Obama’s work even when funded by private money. What really is the criticism?

  3. dg says

    Before you dismiss me with the same censorship that the right-wing has shown themselves so expert at on talk radio, Fox News and elsewhere. I would ask you what activities Obama engaged in that were “Alinsky style” rather than “good old-fashioned charity” (whatever that means). What violence or intimidation did Obama use?

    You cannot win the argument so you shut off the debate. Very sad, Bookworm.

  4. dg says

    Enjoy living in your bubble, Bookworm. I’d say that is your “tactic” that is to be avoided.

    If you cannot use logic, you cannot debate. If you cannot debate, you cannot have a democracy. You are part of the problem, your nice rhetoric about conservatives challenging fascism and other threats to democracy notwithstanding. The day people cannot debate each other in a reasoned, respectful way is the day our democracy starts to falter.

  5. Ymarsakar says

    If you cannot use logic, you cannot debate. If you cannot debate, you cannot have a democracy.

    If you cannot live under water, you cannot build a city under water. If you cannot build a city under water, you cannot have an argument about democracy underwater.

    This has about as much worth as 2 plus 5 equals the base root of something else we don’t care about.

    You are part of the problem

    Democrat re-education camps already told me that. I have no delusions on this score. We are the problem. We must be purged. That’s the point of why we fight for liberty, so that nobody else must suffer the degradations and injustices of the Left. Not even those weaker than America.

    What violence or intimidation did Obama use?

    Actually, Book, dg might not actually know what ALinsky style revolutionary means is. Or at least, he knows but won’t remove the conscience redactor from this subject code.

  6. Ymarsakar says

    Before you dismiss me with the same censorship that the right-wing has shown themselves so expert at on talk radio, Fox News and elsewhere.

    When Obama tells people not to appear on Fox News, that’s blacklisting Fox News.

    When she tells us we have no obligation to respond to you, dg, who is that censoring? You or… us? Logic doesn’t simply because you want it to, dg.

  7. Mike Devx says

    Most importantly, New York Governor David Paterson said that making fun of Obama for being a “community organizer” is racism. Criticizing “community organizers” is racism. Isn’t that nice?

    Dg – Talk about trying to shut off debate!

    One of the points on Alinski, and on community organizers, is that they come from outside a community, with a specific agenda in mind, and proceed to “organize the community” to achieve the agenda. And then they leave. The “Good Works” model you allude to arises from individuals within the community who seek to improve it.

    In addition, the “community organizer” belongs to an organization composed of many community organizers. They are a cadre, if you will, who are all following the meta-goals set by their organization. This is all according to the Saul Alinski playbook. Again, there’s nothing intrinsic about it; everything arises from the Outside. It can hardly be construed as performing Good Works when the organization in question has a much different set of plans.

    If Obama was acting entirely on his own, without coordinating his activities with a set of fellow-cadre community organizers, all with higher goals in mind, then perhaps he wasn’t engaging in Alinski tactics. Does anyone know if Obama was selflessly working entirely on his own, and has he maintained close contact and involvement in the community(ies) in question where he did the organizing? My current impression is, no, he has not. I don’t have an answer for the “did he belong to a cadre of organizers with common goals” question.

    But back to Governor Paterson. Here I thought Alinski community organization was a tool of the left. Now I find it’s a tool specifically and exclusively of blacks. Even though Alinski was white and trained many white community organizers. Gee, Wilbur, ya learn sumtin new ever single day!

  8. dg says

    Mike, do you see me defending Governor Paterson? I am not attacking the attacks on Alinsky, but the guilt-by-association attacks on Obama, who has been tied to Alinsky (thug), Ayers (terrorist), Wright (America-hater), and many others. The criticisms of Obama should be limited to what he did (resume), what he believes (values) and what he says he wants to do (ideas/agenda). When the Right starts ignoring those legitimate criticisms to go after his “associations” you know that they are grasping at straws, at least from an analytical angle. I would contrast this, by the way, with the recent (and according to the GOP unfair) critique of Palin, which has largely dwelt on her real record as a reformer, her ideas and religious opinions, and her likely policies. I am sure many of the left have stooped to the same lows, but Obama said he would fire anyone that made personal attacks on her family even though he himself should be so lucky to receive such a gesture from Team McCain.

    I also would point out that, while I get your point that outsiders coming in can be bad for making the right reforms or even sustainable ones, there are indeed examples where outsiders have done good work. Think about the early part of the Civil Rights movement and the work done by liberal, elitist lawyers from Harvard and other snobby northeastern institutions in getting black voters registered and educating them on their rights. Those outsiders played a very important role in the process and were definitely community organizers in the finest tradition of reform and progress.

  9. Ymarsakar says

    who has been tied to Alinsky (thug), Ayers (terrorist), Wright (America-hater), and many others. The criticisms of Obama should be limited to what he did (resume), what he believes (values) and what he says he wants to do (ideas/agenda). When the Right starts ignoring those legitimate criticisms to go after his “associations” you know that they are grasping at straws, at least from an analytical angle. I would contrast this, by the way, with the recent (and according to the GOP unfair) critique of Palin, which has largely dwelt on her real record as a reformer, her ideas and religious opinions, and her likely policies.

    Unfair? Stop misrepresenting. They are by far, UnTrue. What we claim about Obama, is true, even if you don’t think it is relevant. What they and you claim about Sarah Palin is false.

    There is some connection here you want to make?

  10. Ymarsakar says

    It is very fair, in fact, for the Left to do as they have done. They have treated Obama’s record as being independent of truth or fiction. It doesn’t matter to them. They have also treated Palin’s record and associations as independent of truth and fiction. It doesn’t matter to them whether it is true or not.

    In such a comparison, you must agree that they have been very fair.

  11. dg says

    Y, what do you claim about Obama that is true? That his attempt to raise test scores in Chicago failed? True! That he is guilty by association for having associated himself with people you do not like? False! Specifics would help one evaluate the validity of your argument… As to “fair” treatment of Obama or Palin by the Left, you’ll have to define what the term means; in my experience, you can replace it with “the way I want it” to get the right idea. But this isn’t very helpful. Instead, I prefer to see what the reality is, which requires specific facts and figures. How about sharing some of those first?

  12. ratsrcute says

    ‘one of Obama’s big resume items “proving” his executive abilities’… Is this Obama claiming it’s a “big” resume item? Are the quotes around “proving” his quotes?

    It seems to me that Republicans were desperate to find something to insult in his resume after several days of attacks on Palin’s skimpy resume, and they picked the least significant (first thing he did out of college) item. I think nearly anyone who wasn’t already biased would be shocked to see them mock community organizing. Since then, the bloggers and right-wing radio have been rushing to justify this in any number of ways. It almost suggests they are feeling guilty or know it was a cheap shot. I’ve seen this issue constantly brought up by conservatives, and only the occasional mention by liberals since then.

    Mike

  13. dg says

    Hey Brutus, how is another guilt-by-association smear job by the rabid, radical, right-winger Malkin a “good piece”? That ACORN had bad apples no more tarnishes Obama’s work in the inner city than Abu Graib tarnishes McCain’s record in the military. Judge people on their own actions rather than these tenuous associations. That Malkin doesn’t suggests that she’s got nothin’…

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