Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Saul Alinsky and Barack Obama

I prepare my blog entries as a Microsoft Word document before posting them. It was the Word document which I deleted in error yesterday. I lost what I had written about Barack Obama and Saul Alinsky.

So here I go again.

Saul Alinsky (1909-1972) became famous as a community organizer in Chicago, IL. Wikipedia has this to say about him http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saul_Alinsky

Mr. Alinsky was a hero for those on the Left, and a dangerous radical for those on the Right.

I am on the Left, and I would say that he had great gifts, skills and abilities to organize disparate groups (e.g. Churches, Synagogues, Labour Unions, and Employers) to work for social justice from within the system, i.e. not as revolutionary outsiders.

(I worked for a bit with the Greater Boston Interfaith Organisation (GBIO) which used Alinsky methods to agitate for issues such as Health Insurance reform, Immigrant rights, and fair wages for Nursing Home employees).

(GBIO was able to build a coalition of Church/Synagogue/Mosque member, with Labour leaders and Politicians to effect real and substantive change in the Massachusetts health care systems. The leaders were very effective – but also a bit “Messianic”.)

President-elect Barack Obama was a community organizer in Chicago. Aye indeed, you’ve got it. He was a “disciple” of Saul Alinsky, and used Alinsky-ian methods.

Much of Obama’s success in the Presidential campaign was a result of his ability to unite otherwise disparate groups in a common cause: viz - his election as an agent of change.

Since the election he has continued in this Alinsky-ian mode. Hence, his inclusion of Republicans in his Cabinet. He is building a coalition for change.

(And indeed “change we need”. But under Obama it will not be a change from the left, nor from the right. It will be a change of the willing.)

It is with these Alinsky-ian spectacles that I view his choice of Pastors to lead prayers at the various Inaugural events.

There is the odious and homophobic Rick Warren from the Christian Right.

And then the courageous and bible centered Bishop Gene Robinson from the Christian Left.

In my book, one Gene Robinson does not equal as many as ten Rick Warrens. But I understand Obama’s decisions: i.e. the inclusion of Pastors from the left and from the right.

But this also begs the question of why “who cares a sh-t” about who offers prayer at the Presidential inaugurations?

And if indeed we care I ask: “ why are there no women, no Jews, no Muslims, no Buddhists &c, &c, &c? to “pray” at the inaugural events?”

No comments:

Post a Comment