Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Edward Sisson sends these thoughts about Obama and the style of leftist politics fostered by "community organising" as developed by Saul Alinsky and his disciples:
The vicious personal denunciation of Gov. Palin - focusing on her children, her decision to be a five-time mother (including a special needs child), and her ability as a mother - has exposed the entire nation to a type of nastiness on the American left that seems out-of-place in a movement that started 41 years ago in a "summer of love." Why did personal attack, sneers and smears - delivered independently by individuals all across the country - spring so immediately to the minds of so many?
I suggest it is the result, at least in part, of almost 40 years of training of thousands of "community organizers," including Barrack Obama, in the Saul Alinsky/Industrial Areas Foundation approach to political activism.
The Obama candidacy is an effort to elect the first-ever Saul Alinsky organizer into the Presidency.
Let’s look at what that really means.
A fundamental element of the Saul Alinsky/Industrial Areas Foundation "community organizer" program is the practice of targeting identified individuals for anger and denunciation: the organizational benefits of having enemies, and the need to create conflict and confrontation. The IAF has included "targeting" in its training programs since at least 1972. A scholarly case-study, "Organizing the South Bronx" by Jim Rooney, published by the State University of New York, sets it out in detail.
Does America really want someone in the White House who learned – and was not repelled by – the need to "build animosity" against "ripe targets"; to "mercilessly zero in on" those selected as targets, and the need to select new people to be fresh targets when the people targeted in the past have "become too shopworn to light up anyone’s emotional switchboard"?
Sisson's full post continues "below the fold".
In the paragraphs that follow, the page references are to Rooney's "Organizing the South Bronx".
Personal targeting and scape-goating became a central organizing principle of IAF-trained "community organizers," given special emphasis by Alinsky’s lieutenant and successor Ed Chambers. Chambers was a key source for Rooney in writing "Organizing the South Bronx". Chambers gave Rooney numerous taped interviews in 1989 (p. 265, 266, 276,) and reviewed the draft before publication (p. 10). Because Chambers and other IAF leaders reviewed the book before publication, the book is uniquely reliable in describing what the IAF did in the Obama years and what the IAF's tactics and intentions were.
Ed Chambers, starting from the IAF "base in Chicago," "changed the way of operating" the IAF beginning around 1970, "took the whole thing over" in 1972 after Alinsky died, and "set up an institute where we train many, many organizers" (p. 80-81).
Rooney attended the July, 1989 training (page 219 and following) and sets out in detail what the standard IAF training includes. This was the same kind of training that Obama would have received just a couple of years earlier, in 1985 or 1986.
It was very clear to Rooney, based both on his interviews with Chambers, and on his own attendance at the 1989 IAF training, that for the IAF "it is absolutely essential to select a ripe target [a person] and build animosity towards him or her" (p. 228). "A target has to be selected and mercilessly zeroed in on" (p. 228).
Examples of such "targeting" in the book include Ed Koch, Mayor of NY (p. 85-87) (Koch: "this was sort of like the Jewish doctors’ trial in Moscow under Stalin. I felt as if I were one of the doctors." p. 87).
And the IAF is brutally cynical about the constant need for fresh victims. Once a target "ha[s] become too shopworn to light up anyone’s emotional switchboard," the IAF community organizers find new targets to use as "action lightning rods" (p. 228).
Sarah Palin, of course President Bush, and many others have all personal targets of the IAF style of building animosity towards human targets. Ed Chambers’ "many, many organizers" all learned to "build animosity" against "ripe targets" – such as pretty much any conservative political figure or writer. And they, in turn, have trained many others.
I think it fair to say that beginning with Ed Chambers in the early 1970s, the Left became thoroughly contaminated with this vicious process of turning political policy opponents into personal emotional enemies, into "ripe targets." This process has ruined the Left from the inside, turning hundreds, thousands of leftists into mean-spirited, harsh, inhumane people. And the internet has allowed all of them to jump-in with their targeted hate.
How deeply involved was Obama in the IAF program? John Judis has a story in The New Republic, titled "Creation Myth," that documents Obama's history as an Alinsky/IAF trained organizer. The story is at:
Obama was a "community organizer" in Chicago starting in 1985 through late 1987, about 3 years. He came to work for Jerry Kellman and Mike Kruglik. Judis tells us: "in Chicago, he [Obama] learned the principles of community organizing from Kellman, Kruglik, and other disciples of Saul Alinsky. ... Alinsky had died in 1972 ... his general principles would guide groups like the Gamaliel Foundation, which trained people ... 'His [Obama's] assignment was to operate in the classic style,' Kruglik, a stubby, scruffy, intense man who now works for Gamaliel, tells me." Another community organizer who trained Obama was Northwestern professor John McKnight, "a member of the Gamaliel Foundation's board of directors."
Obama "continued to train other organizers for the Gamaliel Foundation. 'It was the same organizing leadership training,' recalls Obama trainee David Kindler." Notably, nowhere in the Judis article is the "targeting" of individuals identified as the core IAF technique that it so clearly is.
Judis says: "to hear the Obama the presidential candidate tell it, those years in Chicago as a community organizer shaped the person -- and the politician -- he has become. Campaigning in Iowa last year, he declared that community organizing was 'the best education I ever had.' ... is 'something I carry with me when I think about politics today ... the same principles still apply.' ... [H]is campaign ... impli[es] that Obama the politician is a direct descendant of Obama the organizer -- that he has carried the practices and principles of community organizing into his campaign, and would carry them into the White House as well."
It is this training - Obama's training in targeting and denunciation, and the similar training of too many of his advisors - that may now prove to be Obama's undoing. His rise has been fueled by his appearance of idealism, yet he cannot help but engage personally in criticisms and attacks against his most threatening targets. This is what explains why his nomination acceptance speech included a remarkably high (for such acceptance speeches) attacks on his opponent by name.
A Presidential nomination speech is where you praise our country, humbly accept the honor it (via one of its major parties) has given you, and describe why you can do the job. This kind of thinking is second-nature to a man like McCain, trained not in the IAF community organizer program, but in the traditions and principles of the United States Naval Academy.
But Obama and his advisors, trained community organizers, don't think like that. They think like people who are trying to pressure the powerful, not like people who may become the powerful. And when they feel threatened, they instinctively revert to the fighting-tactics they learned as young men and women.
Does America really want someone in the White House who learned – and was not repelled by – the need to "build animosity" against "ripe targets," to "mercilessly zero in on" the person selected as a target, and the need to select new people to be fresh targets when the people targeted in the past have "become too shopworn to light up anyone’s emotional switchboard"? Is Obama, a "community organizer" who has never denounced these inhumane tactics, really the kind of person who belongs in the White House?