In 1971, Saul Alinsky wrote a text on grassroots organizing titled
"Rules for Radicals" (Prologue). Those who prefer cooperative tactics describe the
book as out-of-date. Nevertheless, it provides some of the best advice
on confrontational tactics. Alinsky begins this way:
What follows is for those who want to change the world from what it is
to what they believe it should be -- there's that word, "change." 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.
His "rules" derive from many successful campaigns where he helped poor
people fighting power and privilege
For Alinsky, organizing is the process of highlighting what is wrong and
convincing people they can actually do something about it. The two are
linked. If people feel they don’t have the power to change a bad
situation, they stop thinking about it.
According to Alinsky, the organizer -- especially a paid organizer from
outside -- must first overcome suspicion and establish credibility. Next
the organizer must begin the task of agitating: rubbing resentments,
fanning hostilities, and searching out controversy. This is necessary to
get people to participate. An organizer has to attack apathy and disturb
the prevailing patterns of complacent community life where people have
simply come to accept a bad situation. Alinsky would say, "The
first step in community organization is community disorganization."
Through a process combining hope and resentment, the organizer tries to
create a "mass army" that brings in as many recruits as possible from
local organizations, churches, services groups, labor unions, corner
gangs, and individuals.
Alinsky provides a collection of rules to guide the process. But he
emphasizes these rules must be translated into real-life tactics that
are fluid and responsive to the situation at hand.
RULE 1: "Power is not only what I have, but what
the enemy thinks I have." Power is derived from two main
sources -- money and people. "Have-Nots" must build power
from flesh and blood.
(These are two things of which there is
a plentiful supply. Government and corporations always have a
difficult time appealing to people, and usually do so almost exclusively
with economic arguments.)
RULE 2: "I
never go outside the expertise of 'my people'." It results
in confusion, fear and retreat. Feeling secure adds to the
backbone of anyone.
(Organizations under attack wonder
why radicals don't address the "real" issues. This is why.
They avoid things with which they have no knowledge.)
3: "Whenever possible, I go outside the expertise
of the enemy." I look for ways to increase insecurity,
anxiety and uncertainty.
(This happens all the time.
Watch how many organizations under attack are blind-sided by seemingly
irrelevant arguments that they are then forced to address.)
RULE 4: "Make the enemy live up to its own book
of rules." If the rule is that every letter gets a reply, I
send 30,000 letters. I can kill them with this because no one can
possibly obey all of their own rules.
(This is a serious
rule. The besieged entity's very credibility and reputation is at
stake, because if activists catch it lying or not living up to its
commitments, they can continue to chip away at the damage.)
RULE 5: "Ridicule is man's most potent weapon."
There is no defense. It's irrational. It's infuriating.
It also works as a key pressure point to force the enemy into
(Pretty crude, rude and mean, huh? He
wants to create anger and fear.)
"A good tactic is one 'my people' enjoy."
They'll keep doing it without urging and come back to do more.
They're doing their thing, and will even suggest better ones.
activists, in this sense, are no different than any other human being.
We all avoid "un-fun" activities, and but we revel at and enjoy the ones
that work and bring results.)
"A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag." Don't let
it become old news.
(Even radical activists get bored.
So to keep them excited and involved, organizers are constantly coming
up with new tactics.)
RULE 8: "Keep
the pressure on. Never let up." I keep trying new things to
keep the opposition off balance. As the opposition masters one
approach, I hit them from the flank with something new.
attack, attack from all sides, never giving the reeling organization a
chance to rest, regroup, recover and re-strategize.)
9: "The threat is usually more terrifying than the
thing itself." Imagination and ego can dream up many more
consequences than any activist.
(Perception is reality.
Large organizations always prepare a worst-case scenario, something that
may be furthest from the activists' minds. The upshot is that the
organization will expend enormous time and energy, creating in its own
collective mind the direst of conclusions. The possibilities can
easily poison the mind and result in demoralization.)
10: "If I push a negative hard enough, it will push
through and become a positive." Violence from the other
side can win the public to my side because the public sympathizes with
(Unions used this tactic. Peaceful
[albeit loud] demonstrations during the heyday of unions in the early to
mid-20th Century incurred management's wrath, often in the form of
violence that eventually brought public sympathy to their side.)
RULE 11: "The price of a successful attack
is a constructive alternative." I never let the enemy score
points because I'd be caught without a solution to the problem.
saw: If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem.
Activist organizations have an agenda, and their strategy is to hold a
place at the table, to be given a forum to wield their power. So,
they have to have a compromise solution.)
"Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and
polarize it." I cut off the support network and isolate the
target from sympathy. I go after people and not institutions;
people hurt faster than institutions.
(This is cruel, but
very effective. Direct, personalized criticism and ridicule works.)
According to Alinsky, the main job of the organizer is to bait an
opponent into reacting. "The enemy properly goaded and guided in
his reaction will be your major strength."
Obama answered a help-wanted ad for a position as a community organizer
for the Developing Communities Project (DCP) of the Calumet Community
Religious Conference (CCRC) in Chicago. Obama was 24 years
old, unmarried, and according to his memoir, searching for a genuine
Both the CCRC and the DCP were built on the Alinsky model of community
agitation, wherein paid organizers learned how to "rub raw the sores of
discontent," in Alinsky's words.
One of Obama's early mentors in the Alinsky method was Mike Kruglik, who
this to say to an interviewer of The New Republic, about Obama:
"He was a natural, the undisputed master of
agitation, who could engage a room full of recruiting targets in a
rapid-fire Socratic dialogue, nudging them to admit that they were not
living up to their own standards. As with the panhandler, he could be
aggressive and confrontational. With probing, sometimes personal
questions, he would pinpoint the source of pain in their lives, tearing
down their egos just enough before dangling a carrot of hope that they
could make things better."
The agitator's job, according to Alinsky, is first to bring folks to the
"realization" that they are indeed miserable, that their misery is the
fault of unresponsive governments or greedy corporations, then help them
to bond together to demand what they deserve, and to make such an
almighty stink that the dastardly governments and corporations
will see imminent "self-interest" in granting whatever it is that will
cause the harassment to cease.
In these methods, euphemistically labeled "community organizing," Obama
had a four-year education, which he often says was the best education he
ever got anywhere.
Rubbing Raw The Sores Of Discontent
In order to stop the "bitter" bleeding caused by Obama's
"bitter, bibles and guns," remark, Obama
responded to the Pennsylvania gaff with the following
I found this video very illuminating, as it demonstrates Obama employing the
Alinsky agitation technique of "rubbing raw the sores of discontent." (Alinsky's
Watch as Obama sets up a list of grievances, gets everyone angry and then
leads the choir in an emotional response to Washington's failures -- "they
(Americans) can't count on Washington" -- and ends strong -- he's the answer
to everything he says is wrong with America.
The entire exercise was to change the discussion. Obama never addressed
his condescending remarks. Instead, he got his audience mad at Washington
-- he changed the subject.
difference between what Obama said in his unguarded moment at San
Francisco's "Billionair's Row," and the cleaned-up version he tried to sell
At the Getty Mansion (see picture below -- 4/6/2008):
"So it's not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or
religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment
or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."
With "the folks" in Indiana:
"So people end up voting on issues like guns and are they going to have the
right to bear arms. They vote on issues like gay marriage. They take refuge in
their faith and their community, and their family, and the things they can count
Praise From Alinsky's Son
All the elements were
present: the individual stories told by real people of their
situations and hardships, the packed-to-the rafters crowd, the crowd's
chanting of key phrases and names, the action on the spot of texting and
phoning to show instant support and commitment to jump into the
political battle, the rallying selections of music, the setting of the
agenda by the power people. The Democratic National Convention had
all the elements of the perfectly organized event, Saul Alinsky style.
Barack Obama's training in Chicago by the great community organizers is
showing its effectiveness. It is an amazingly powerful format, and
the method of my late father always works to get the message out and get
the supporters on board. When executed meticulously and
thoughtfully, it is a powerful strategy for initiating change and making
it really happen. Obama learned his lesson well.
I am proud to see that my father's model for organizing is being applied
successfully beyond local community organizing to affect the Democratic
campaign in 2008. It is a fine tribute to Saul Alinsky as we
approach his 100th birthday.
L. DAVID ALINSKY
to work at a Chicago housing project, Altgeld Gardens, where he refines
Here, Obama worked as an
ethnic activist, helping the
impoverished black community wring more money and services from the
government. That government money was wrecking the morals of the
housing-project residents seems obvious from his book, but Obama never
comes out and says it. Numerous white moderates assume that a man
of Obama’s superlative intelligence must be kidding when he espouses his
cast-iron liberalism on race-related policies, but they don’t understand
the emotional imperative of racial loyalty to him.
His mentor during this period was the veteran local agitator, Hazel
Johnson, who who
disputes the version of events at
Altgeld Gardens that Obama wrote of in his book and tells audiences at
his political gatherings.
While working as a community organizer, Obama was repeatedly asked to
join Christian congregations but
"I remained a reluctant skeptic, doubtful of my own motives ..." he
Using donations for the poor to help power-seeking
politicians attain their ends is pure Alinskyism. One of
Obama’s Chicago mentors, Gregory Galluzzo -- a former Jesuit priest, now
married and Executive Director of the Gamaliel community organizing
network -- was interviewed by a writer to whom he showed the training
manual he uses with new organizers.
"Galluzzo told me that many new trainees have an aversion to Alinsky’s
gritty approach because they come to organizing as idealists rather than
realists. But Galluzzo’s manual instructs them to get over these
hang-ups. 'We are not virtuous by not wanting power,' it says.
'We are really cowards for not wanting power,' because 'power is good'
and 'powerlessness is evil.'"
The World As It Might Be
'We don't care about the world as it is, we imagine
as it might be. We want to write
a new chapter,'" Obama told the crowd. "That is the moment that we
are in right now."
One Of Our Heroes From The Past
MSNBC's Chris 'Tingles' Matthews Cites "One Of Our
Heroes From The Past," Saul Alinsky (01:25)
Alinsky's Star Pupil Uses "Rules" As A
Manual For Social Surgery
Paul Sperry says Obama is
fond of using ridicule to frustrate critics. He recently mocked
Republicans for predicting "Armageddon" if health care reform passed.
After signing the bill, he cracked that he looked around to "see if
there were any asteroids falling," only to discover a nice day with
Obama has also used the tactic to dismiss
charges that he's pushing a "socialist" agenda, arguing that critics
will next accuse him of "being a secret communist because I shared my
toys in kindergarten."
But the former community organizer also
knows that ridiculing the opposition is an effective tactic taught by
the father of community organizing, Saul D. Alinsky -- a socialist [communist?]
agitator from Chicago whose influence on Obama is deeper than commonly
In fact, the tactic is ripped right from the pages of
"Rules for Radicals" (Vintage Books, New York, 1971), a how-to manual
Alinsky wrote for coat-and-tie revolutionaries.
man's most potent weapon," reads Rule No. 5. "It is almost impossible to
counterattack ridicule. Also it infuriates the opposition, who
then react to your advantage."
It's just one of 13 rules Alinsky
coached his acolytes to follow to "take power away from the Haves."
The Haves, represented foremost by corporate America, are "the enemy."
They must be identified, singled out and targeted for attack -- and the
more personal the better, Alinsky advised, putting a special bull's-eye
His 13th rule -- "Pick the target, freeze it,
personalize it and polarize it" -- is not lost on Obama, who has
targeted "fat cat" bankers, "predatory" lenders, "greedy" insurers and
industrial "polluters" as enemies of the people.
his lesson well," said David Alinsky, son of the late socialist [communist?].
"I am proud to see that my father's model for organizing is being
applied successfully beyond local community organizing."
first learned Alinsky's rules in the 1980s, when Alinskyite radicals
with the Chicago-based, Alinsky group, Gamaliel Foundation recruited,
hired, trained and paid him as a community organizer in South Side
They also helped him get into Harvard Law School to
"learn power's currency in all its intricacy and detail," as Obama put
it in his memoir. A Gamaliel board member even wrote a letter of
recommendation for him.
Obama took a break from his Harvard
studies to travel to Los Angeles for eight days of intense training at
Alinsky's Industrial Areas Foundation, a station of the cross for
acolytes. In turn, he trained other community organizers in
Alinsky agitation tactics. In 1988, he even wrote a chapter for
the book "After Alinsky: Community Organizing in Illinois," in which he
lamented organizers' "lack of power" in implementing change.
asks us to remember the popular motto "What would Jesus do?" which
was invoked by many Christians as a moral guidepost for daily living?
Barack Obama more likely adheres to "What would Saul Alinsky do?" as
most recently evidenced by his apparent defiance of a federal court
order on his moratorium on offshore drilling.
that the drilling companies who secured the court order blocking the
moratorium say the administration indeed is going to defy the court
order. I'm quite sure that Alinsky would applaud this move: If at
first you don't succeed through proper legal channels, proceed anyway,
because nothing is more important than the radical ends you seek,
including the means that must be trampled in the process.
course, shrewd Alinskyites like Obama will always have a plausible
excuse for their deceitful tactics. In this case, they are
alleging newly discovered facts. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar
said he intends to reimpose the drilling moratorium based on information
that wasn't "fully developed" in May, when the six-month moratorium was
imposed. Quite convenient.
The administration is also
sending mixed signals, probably to introduce sufficient confusion to
cover its disobedience. The government's brief filed with the
court insisted, "Of course, until a further order of this Court or the
Court of Appeals granting relief from this Court's Preliminary
Injunction Order, Defendants will comply with the Court's Order."
But attorneys for the drilling companies warn that "Secretary Salazar's
comments have the obvious effect of chilling the resumption of (outer
continental shelf) activities, which is precisely the wrong this Court
sought to redress through its Preliminary Injunction Order."
companies' point, notes Politico, is that Salazar's public announcement
that the administration will reinstitute the moratorium will have the
same practical effect as actually doing it because companies are not
about to prepare rigs for drilling when they might be shut down in a few
days. The administration predictably pooh-poohs the companies'
concerns and says these new "facts" present an entirely different
scenario. How convenient. Whenever you can't advance the
football, just move the goal posts your way.
Can't you just hear
an irate Alinsky-schooled Obama behind closed doors learning of the
court order audaciously purporting to limit his plenary executive
authority? "Just find the damn loophole -- or say you did -- and I
don't want to see you again in this office until it's done."
Defying court orders is just one of many ways Obama abuses his
When Congress failed with its initial efforts to
impose cap-and-tax legislation designed to suppress traditional energy
production and consumption in the United States for the ostensible
purpose of reducing global temperature an imperceptible amount over the
next century, Obama's Environmental Protection Agency just issued ultra
vires regulations to accomplish similar results. It didn't matter
that every literate and intellectually honest person had to concede that
the EPA had no statutory (or any other) authority to issue such sweeping
regulations. What mattered were the administration's radical
When Obama wanted to secure for his favored
unions a stake in his new General Motors far exceeding their actual
ownership interest and rob secured creditors of their preferred-creditor
status and the value of their investment, he used the power of his
office to strong-arm a restructuring of the company to accomplish his
aims. When Democratic Party donor and super-lawyer Tom Lauria
opposed this plan on behalf of his client, the White House, according to
Lauria, threatened to destroy his client's reputation. One unnamed
source described the White House as the most shocking "end justifies the
means" group he had ever encountered. Another attributed Obama's
negotiating tactics to a "madman theory of the presidency," saying Obama
wants to be feared as someone who is willing to do anything to get his
way. In return for standing up for their legal rights as secured
creditors and not bending to Obama's horrendously unfair demand, er,
offer, Obama maligned the recalcitrant creditors as "a small group of
When inspector general Gerald Walpin blew the
whistle on the corruption of an Obama friend and supporter, Obama fired
Walpin and sought to discredit him as a senile misfit -- a charge wholly
unsupported by the facts.
And I won't begin to recite the many
ways (e.g., reconciliation) Obama sought to circumvent the legislative
process en route to ObamaCare.
Alinsky is surely beaming from the
Obama Following The Alinsky Textbook
his Chicago days, Obama spent a great deal of time working with Marxist,
Gerald Kellman. It should come as no surprise
then, that he employs many of the tactics found in Alinsky's Rules for
Radicals in his handling of the BP oil spill.
Here are a few
"Rule 3: Whenever possible, go outside
the experience of an opponent. Here you want to cause
confusion, fear, and retreat."
Obama has spent little time focusing on the
specifics of what caused the disaster. Such specifics include the
ineptitude of the government inspectors. And he never acknowledged
that his administration gave the faulty rig a safety award.
Instead, Obama has misdirected attention by talking about such things as
"Rule 5: Ridicule is man’s most potent
weapon. It’s hard to counterattack ridicule, and it infuriates
the opposition, which then reacts to your advantage."
On the occasion of Michael Bromich's appointment as
head of the Mineral Management Service, Obama said, "For a decade or
more, the cozy relationship between the oil companies and the federal
agency (Mineral Management Service) was allowed to go unchecked.
That allowed drilling permits to be issued in exchange not for safety
plans, but assurances of safety from oil companies. That cannot
and will not happen anymore."
"Rule 9: The threat is more terrifying
than the thing itself."
"We will keep a boot on the throat of BP," said
Robert Gibbs during a press conference in May.
"Rule 10: The price of a successful
attack is a constructive alternative. Avoid being trapped by
an opponent or an interviewer who says, "Okay, what would you do?"
This rule of Alinsky’s was paraphrased by the
Obama’s Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, "never let a good crisis go to
waste." Obama has used the oil spill crisis as an excuse to
spew green rhetoric and promote his cap-and-trade bill.
"Rule 11: Pick the target, freeze it,
personalize it, polarize it. Don’t try to attack abstract
corporations or bureaucracies. Identify a responsible individual.
Ignore attempts to shift or spread the blame."
Alinsky’s most useful tactic involves creating a
good versus evil scenario. It is not about fixing the problem, it
is about blaming someone -- in this case BP and their Chief Executive
officer Tony Hayward. On June 12, Obama told British Prime
Minister Cameron that BP would have to put $20 billion into an account
to pay for "environmental and economic damages" caused from their spill.
Less than a week later, Texas Rep. Joe Barton, of the House Committee on
Energy and Commerce, blasted Obama for forcing a private business to be
the victim of a "$20 billion shakedown." Barton went on to say,
"There is no question that BP is liable for the damages, but we have a
due process system." Barton raises a good point but "due process"
certainly would not have stopped Saul Alinsky and it will probably not
Saul Alinsky Debates Young Canadian Radicals
Trevor Loudon has some more from Saul Alinsky.
This documentary short captures a lively confrontation between the
American community organizer and writer Saul Alinsky, and members of the
Company of Young Canadians. Among other topics, the parties argue
and disagree about the means and costs of securing "social change".
The company of Young Canadians was a Canadian version of the
U.S. Peace Corps, which existed from 1966 to 1977.
rioting in Montreal in October 1969 Oct 11, city officials pointed the
finger at the Company of Young Canadians. In a scathing address, the
administration accused the group of sheltering Quebec separatist
extremists, masterminding violent demonstrations and plotting to make
The accusations leveled against the CYC were made by
Lucien Saulnier, the chairman of Montreal's Executive Committee, and
were supported by Montreal mayor Jean Drapeau and the chief of police.
Saulnier appealed to Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau to withhold the
group's multi-million dollar budget and establish a Royal Commission to
investigate his claims. Though the leftist Trudeau, failed to launch a
federal inquiry, the allegations and others that followed lead to the
eventual de-funding and termination of the agency.
that Saul Alinsky, a man who inspired both Barack Obama and Hillary
Clinton, should be associated with such radicals, no?
Quotes And Excerpts From Rules For Radicals
"Obama learned his lesson well.
I am proud to see that my father's model for organizing is being applied
successfully beyond local community organizing to affect the Democratic
campaign in 2008. It is a fine tribute to Saul Alinsky as we
approach his 100th birthday." -- Letter from L. DAVID ALINSKY, son of
Neo-Marxist Saul Alinsky
Obama helped fund 'Alinsky
Woods Fund, a nonprofit on which Obama served as paid director from 1999
to December 2002, provided startup funding and later capital to the
Midwest Academy.... Obama sat on the Woods Fund board alongside
William Ayers, founder of the Weather Underground domestic terrorist
'Midwest describes itself
as 'one of the nation's oldest and best-known schools for community
organizations, citizen organizations and individuals committed to
progressive social change.'... Midwest teaches Alinsky tactics of
Hillary, Obama and the Cult of Alinsky:
revolutionaries do not flaunt their radicalism, Alinsky taught.
They cut their hair, put on suits andinfiltrate the system from
within. Alinsky viewed revolution as a slow, patient process.
The trick was to penetrate
institutions such as churches, unions and political parties....
leftists view Hillary as a sell-out because she claims to hold moderate
views on some issues. However, Hillary is simply following
Alinsky’s counsel to do and say whatever it takes to gain power.
is also an Alinskyite.... Obama spent years teaching workshops on the
Alinsky method. In 1985 he began a four-year stint as a community
organizer in Chicago, working for an Alinskyite group called the
Developing Communities Project.... Camouflage is key to Alinsky-style
organizing. While trying to build coalitions of black churches in
Chicago, Obama caught flak for not attending church himself. He
became an instant churchgoer."
(By Richard Poe, 11-27-07)
Of Course Obama Is OK With Occupy Wall Street --
It’s Just More Alinsky
AlinskyDefeater's blog saysRules for
Radicals, p. 113, says:
"The first step in community organization is community
It’s no wonder that Barack Obama and other politicos on the Left have
embraced the Occupy Wall Street movement. They do it, not in spite of the
excesses, but because of the excesses. In true Alinsky fashion Obama finds
affinity with a group of anti-capitalists who defecate on police vehicles.
Obama is a product of his Alinsky
training, and of the 1960′s counter-revolution.
It is second nature for Obama to sanction the types of political dissent with
which he is familiar. When he saw a peaceful demonstrations by the TEA
Party, that sought smaller Government and less debt, he was confounded. At
first he tried to ignore it, and when that became impossible he famously
referred to the TEA Party as:
"Folks waving Tea
Occupy Wall Street is right in Obama’s
wheelhouse. After all, the objective of Alinsky in his quasi-Marxist
approach, was to inspire "revolution not revelation" (Rules for Radicals, p.
Alinsky went on to say:
The significant changes in history have been made be revolutions. There
are people who say that it is not revolution, but evolution, that brings about
change -- but evolution is simply the term used by nonparticipants to
denote a particular sequence of revolutions as they synthesized into a specific
major social change (Rules for Radicals, pp. 3-4).
The class warfare we see today is nothing new, and the fact that Barack Obama
embraces it, and preaches it should come as no surprise to anyone who has taken
even a cursory look at Obama’s past as a Community Organizer. Again, it is
probably best encapsulated in the words of the man who fathered Community
Organization when he says regarding class distinctions.
The setting for the drama of change has never varied. Mankind has been
and is divided into three parts: the Haves, the Have-Nots, and the
Have-a-Little, Want Mores (Rules for Radicals, p. 18).
While those of us who have been paying attention know that Barack Obama studied and taught Alinsky
methods, and became a Community Organizer in the Alinsky mold, many
are still in denial. Perhaps none are so in denial about Obama and Alinsky
as the Left.
This "Yahoo Answers" response
probably sums up the way too many still feel about Obama and the
Alinsky model. The best chosen answer to that Yahoo question not only
demonstrates an ignorance of Obama, Alinsky, and what it means to be a Community
Organizer, but it also drips with the type of snarkiness that seemingly only
comes from the thoroughly uninformed. In part, the answer to the
question, "Does Obama use the Saul Alinsky tactic Rules for Radicals keep
your enemies close?" says:
No, but right wingers appear to be more familiar with the Alinsky rules,
considering the fact that they mention them so often. You are using a form
of projection in order to try to criticize President Obama. Is that one of
the Alinsky rules?
The author of "the best answer" goes on to say:
You’ve simply made up some theory identifying alleged "enemies" and then
you’ve accused President Obama of dealing with these alleged enemies a certain
way. It is all nonsense conceived in your own fevered
To the Left, everything and everyone can be separated into groups with neat
little identities. They divide us by race, socioeconomic status, sex,
sexuality, and on and on. And yet, it is the Left who screams about
racism, sexism, and so on. Conservatives would prefer to just think of us
all as Americans, and although we are all created equal it is insane to believe
that we should all remain equal regardless of how hard we work.
This is the ignorance we are dealing with, but at least
those of you who do your homework know what’s really going on.
Barack's Love Song To Alinsky
says that in The Audacity of Hope, Barack Obama claims
that he worried after 9/11 that his name, so similar to that of Osama
bin Laden, might harm his political career.
But Obama was not
always so worried about misspellings and radical resemblances. He may
even have cultivated them as he cast himself as Chicago’s radical
In 1998, a small Chicago theater company staged a play
titled The Love Song of Saul Alinsky, dedicated to the life and
politics of the radical community organizer whose methods Obama had
practiced and taught on Chicago’s South Side.
Obama was not only
in the audience, but also took the stage after one performance,
participating in a panel discussion that was advertised in the poster
for the play.
Recently, veteran Chicago journalist Michael Miner
mocked emerging conservative curiosity about the play, along with
enduring suspicions about the links between Alinsky and Obama. Writing
in the Chicago Reader, Miner described the poster:
Let's take a look at this poster.
It's red—and that right there, like the darkening water that
swirls down Janet Leigh's drain [in Psycho’s famous shower scene],
is plenty suggestive. It touts a play called The Love Song of Saul
Alinsky, Alinsky being the notorious community organizer
from Chicago who wrote books with titles like Reveille for Radicals
and Rules for Radicals. On it, fists are raised—meaning insurrection
is in the air.
And down at the very bottom, crawling across the poster in
small print, it mentions the panel discussions that will follow the
Sunday performances. The panelists are that era's usual
"progressive" suspects: Leon Despres, Monsignor Jack Egan, Studs
Terkel . . .
And state senator Barack Obama.
Miner obscured the truth. His article only
reveals only a small portion of the poster.
So, what’s in the play? It truly is a love song to Alinsky. In the first
few minutes of the play, Alinsky plays Moses -- yes, the Biblical Moses
-- talking to God. The play glorifies Alinsky stealing food from
restaurants and organizing others to do the same, explaining, "I saw it
as a practical use of social ecology: you had members of the
intellectual community, the hope of the future, eating regularly for six
months, staying alive till they could make their contributions to
In an introspective moment, Alinsky rips America: "My
country … ‘tis of whatthehell / And justice up a tree … How much can you
sell / What’s in it for me." He grins about manipulating the
Christian community to back his programs. He talks in glowing terms
about engaging in Chicago politics with former Mayor Kelly. He rips the
McCarthy committee, mocking, "Everyone was there, when you think back --
Cotton Mather, Hester Prynn, Anne Hutchinson, Tom Paine, Tom Jefferson …
Brandeis, Holmes … Gene Debs and the socialists … Huey Long … Imperial
Wizards of all stripes … Father Coughlin and his money machine … Daffy
Duck, Elmer Fudd … and a kicking chorus of sterilized reactionaries
singing O Come, All Ye Faithful …"
And Alinsky talks about being
the first occupier -- shutting down the O’Hare Airport by occupying all
the toilet stalls, using chewing gum to "tie up the city, stop all
traffic, and the shopping, in the Loop, and let everyone at City Hall
know attention must be paid, and maybe we should talk about it." As
Alinsky says, "Students of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose
but your juicy fruit."
The play finishes with Alinsky announcing
he’d rather go to Hell than Heaven. Why? "More comfortable there. You
see, all my life I’ve been with the Have-Nots: here you’re a Have-Not if
you’re short of money, there you’re a Have-Not if you’re short of
virtue. I’d be asking more questions, organizing them. They’re my kind
of people -- Hell would be Heaven for me."
That’s The Love
Song of Saul Alinsky. It’s radical leftist stuff, and it revels in
its radical leftism.
And that’s Barack Obama, our president, on
This is who Barack Obama was. This was before Barack
Obama ran for Congress in 2000—challenging former Black Panther Bobby L.
Rush from the left in a daring but unsuccessful bid.
This was also the period just before Barack Obama served with Bill
Ayers, from 1999 through 2002 on the board of the Woods Foundation. They
gave capital to support the Midwest Academy, a leftist training
institute steeped in the doctrines of -- you guessed it! -- Saul Alinsky,
and whose alumni now dominate the Obama administration and its top
political allies inside and out of Congress.
Stanley Kurtz, author of Radical-in-Chief
, described the
Midwest Academy as a "crypto-socialist organization." Yet almost no one
has heard of Midwest Academy, because the media does not want you to
know that the president is a radical's radical whose presidency itself
is a love song to a socialist "community organizer."
The reason Newt Gingrich surged in the Republican primary contest in
January is that he was attempting to do the press's job by finding out
who the current occupant of the White House actually is. Millions also
want to know, but the mainstream media is clearly not planning to vet
the President anytime soon. Quite the opposite.
Miner tries to turn Obama’s appearance on the Alinsky panel into a plus
for the president:
Obama was on the panel that talked about Alinsky the last
Sunday of the play's run at the Blue Rider Theatre in Pilsen.
Neither Pam Dickler, who directed the Terrapin Theatre production,
nor Gary Houston, who played Alinsky, can remember a word Obama
said. But he impressed them. "You never would have known he was a
politician," says Dickler. "He never said anything at all about
himself. He came alone, watched the play, and during the panel
discussion was entirely on point and brilliant. That evening I
called my father, who's a political junkie, and told him to watch
out for this man, he's going places." Houston was just as taken by
Obama—though he remembers him arriving in a group.
But is it a good thing to impress the sort of people who show up to
laud The Love Song of Saul Alinsky? Here are the other members
of the Obama panel:
Leon Despres: Despres knew
Saul Alinsky for nearly 50 years, and together they established the
modern concept of "community organizing." Despres worked with secret
Communist and Soviet spy Lee Pressman to support strikers at Republic
Steel in Chicago in 1937; the strike ended in tragedy when 14 rioting
strikers were killed and many wounded in a hail of police bullets.
Despres worked with another Communist Party front, the Chicago Civil
Liberties Committee, but eventually left because of the "Stalinism" of
Also in 1937, Despres and his wife delivered a
suitcase of "clothing" to Leon Trotsky, then hiding out from Stalin’s
assassins in Mexico City. Despres and his wife not only met with the
exiled Russian Communist, but Despres’s wife sat for a portrait with
Trotsky pal and Marxist muralist Diego Rivera while Leon took Rivera’s
wife Frida Kahlo to the movies.
Quentin Young: From 1970 until
at least 1992, Quentin Young was active in the Communist Party front
organization, the Chicago Committee to Defend the Bill of Rights -- a
group dedicated to outlawing government surveillance of radical
organizations. He was also a member of the Young Communist League.
Young, a confidante and physician to Barack Obama, is credited with
having heavily influenced the President’s views on healthcare policy.
Timuel Black: An icon of the Chicago left, Black was
originally denied officer training because military intelligence claimed
he had secretly joined the Communist Party. Black also worked closely
with the Socialist Party in the 1950s, becoming president of the local
chapter of the Negro American Labor Council, a organization founded by
Socialist Party leader A. Phillip Randolph.
In the early ‘60s
Black was a leader of the Hyde Park Community Peace Center, where he
worked alongside former radical Trotskyist Sydney Lens and the
aforementioned Communist Dr. Quentin Young. Black served as a
contributing editor to the Hyde Park/Kenwood Voices, a newspaper run by
Communist Party member David S. Canter. By 1970, Timuel Black was
serving on the advisory council of the Communist Party controlled
Chicago Committee to Defend the Bill of Rights.
Timuel Black says
he has been friends with domestic terrorists William Ayers and
Bernardine Dohrn, "going back to 1968, since long before I knew Barack."
In April 2002, Black, Dohrn and Democratic Socialists of America member
Richard Rorty spoke together on a panel entitled "Intellectuals: Who
Needs Them?" The panel was the first of two in a public gathering
jointly sponsored by The Center for Public Intellectuals and the
University of Illinois, Chicago. Bill Ayers and Barack Obama spoke
together on in the second panel at that gathering. Communist academic
Harold Rogers chaired Timuel Black’s unsuccessful campaign for Illinois
Studs Terkel: A sponsor of
the Scientific and Cultural Conference for World Peace in 1949, which
was arranged by a Communist Party USA front organization known as the
National Council of the Arts, Sciences, and Professions.
Roberta Lynch: A leading member of Democratic Socialists of
America (DSA) and a leader of the radical Marxist New American Movement
Are we expected to believe that "Baraka Obama" was a
countervailing voice of reason on a panel of radicals?
that Obama's Alinskyite past, and his many appearances in political
photography and video from the 1990s, are conspicuously missing from the
national dialogue is that State Senator Barack Obama's reinvention as a
reasonable and moderate Democratic politician could not withstand
scrutiny of his political life.
Because the mainstream media did
not explore his roots, the American public remains largely ignorant of
the degree to which Obama’s work with ACORN and his love of Alinsky were
symbolic of his true political will.