The Houston Chronicle has no idea what a community organizer does for a living

Here is my letter of 9/12/08 to the Houston Chronicle, which had editorially expressed respect and admiration for the work of ‘community organizers’ and was appalled that anyone would mock or criticize their important work.  As a former Chicagoan, I felt I could bring some perspective to the matter.

Regarding “GOP mockery of community organizers . . .,” in the 9/11 edition of the Chronicle:  if you want to know what it means to be a community organizer, go to the source, Rules For Radicals (1971), written by Saul Alinsky, the inventor of the CO concept.  Here are some excerpts:

“A revolutionary organizer must shake up the prevailing patterns of (people’s) lives – agitate, create disenchantment and discontent . . .”(Prologue, pp xxi and xxii)

“The Prince was written by Machiavelli for the Haves on how to hold power.  Rules for Radicals is written for the Have-Nots on how to take it away.” (page 3)

“The job of the organizer is to maneuver and bait the establishment so that it will publicly attack him . . .”  (page 100)

“The first step in community organization is community disorganization. ”  (page 116)

“An organizer must stir up dissatisfaction and discontent . . .”  (page 117)

“In the beginning the organizer’s first job is to create the issues or problems.”  (page 119)

“The ‘silent majority,’ now are hurt, bitter, suspicious, feeling rejected and at bay.”  (page 190)

“The middle classes are numb, bewildered, scared into silence.”  (page 194)

The reader might also want to take a look at page 139, which contains an Alinsky proposal for the strategic disruption of a concert by having 100 members of the audience overdose on baked beans during a pre-concert meal.   Evidently, that kind of thing is an example of what community organizers do.

[Posted on 10 Feb 2012]

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