Alinsky? SO WHAT! –Robert M. Shelby, 4-1-12. [1077 txt wds]

So what if radical is a bad word in the pseudo-conservative mouth. Persons, views and actions not approved by that mouth are indiscriminantly waste-basketed as socialist. Big egoes on the far right go wrong in their critical judgments most of the time because the narrowness of the world as they understand it, and the paucity of what parts of their conceptual equipment they’re actually willing and able to use, reflect the shallowness of their personal identities and life-associations. In a phrase, they lack ‘heart awareness’ anywhere near equal to their ‘intellectual knowledge.’ Big egoes on the far right seldom grasp how terms of their critique apply equally to themselves. For instance, pointing out Alinsky as “a radical” masks those pointers’ own radical politics.

Such hardness of judgments reflects one’s own hardness. Hardness is so defensive a posture even as a platform of attack, it merits examination as sickness. It signifies a lack of security in one’s own, real situation, even discomfort inside one’s skin. Guilt comes in various forms, vicarious as well as obvious. “Rugged individualism” goes beyond independent responsibility for oneself to the verge of psychopathological alienation from human community and any social responsibility greater than family obligation or minimal compliance with tax law. Even military draft in time of war is something to be avoided. Rugged individualists don’t mind hiding out on moral grounds as deeply conscientious objectors to combat. Some don’t mind engaging in pious fraud.

From what gets written in the so-called conservative media, starting with National Review and NewsMax (which are usually ‘cold-frames’ of self-assured and self-congratulatory backwardism) one might think anything suggesting social justice,  healthy community or balanced society is not wholistic centrism but socialist evil. As if the big owners and their well-heeled, hired managers are always correct in first serving their own interests and investors if they throw pittances here or there to charity or civic projects, for which of course in return they get some good press with photo-ops and commemorative plaques or framed documents for home or boardroom walls.

Scowling faces, bad-mouth and nay-saying are most of what we have seen or can expect, now, from the cantingly false “truth-tellers” who cry from a wilderness outlook ruggedly so far to their own right they must be too radical for good balance. They do all they can to contribute to public insanity and bad government. Theirs is nearly the antisocial, illiberal, half-crazed, loveless and empathy-lacking world of Ayn Rand.

As for Saul Alinsky, one would not expect people so disoriented to values other than pecuniary to understand or appreciate his views, lifework or his legacy’s value to this country. It was not to his disvalue that he studied the Chicago mob as a graduate student and got close to some mobsters without becoming assimilated into nefarious activities. Local critics learn only enough about him to make negative assessments, which is all they need or want from research, anyway. Their views are set in concrete.

Knowledge is where you find it. Alinsky did not use “shake-down artists” or “leg-breakers” to organize the lower classes or build movements toward populism. No matter how people accused him, he was too smart to fall for socialism or communism as such, but smart enough to grasp what was wrong with entrenched power and see what empowerments were needed by lowly working folks and the poor in order to reach parity. Be sure, our bad-mouthers never honestly looked into ACORN to see what went on. They just keep on getting half-informed slant from biased sources inside their own “data-bubble.” Only people inside it with them can be “right.” Everyone else is wrong. Just ask ‘em. Contrary to what they want to believe, Saul Alinsky, way before anything else, was a moral Jew and a good man. His critics are not even good Christians. Jesus himself would side with the late Saul Alinsky. Saul’s heart was in the right place, correctly on the left side of his body. One wonders what’s inside his detractors but fear.

At least locally, Alinsky’s critics (enemies is a better term) are unavowed but dyed-in-the-wool, white racists. This is demonstrated by the onus they place on universities that accept minority or mixed-race students and black faculty. Always they credit such heresy to the account of legislative social-engineering that has resulted in, as they see it,  unfairly discriminatory race-quota setting by admissions officers. The unfairness has grown especially large in the minds of those who see opportunities slipping away from their own kind, rather than see the unfairness that traditionally governed opportunity in general across this land.

One well-known, former lawyer in our midst beats up on the late Professor Derrick Bell of Harvard, labeling him incompetent, deficient in scholarship and poorly qualified for a post in such elevated surroundings among so many gifted legal minds. What are we to make of such critics who ignore the real history of Bell’s career and de-nig-rate him on their “personal” authority without documentation? I have little use for such writers’ over-inflated self-esteem and hubristic pomposity. Bell was loved by his students for good reason. He had worked for William P. Rogers’ Justice Department in Civil Rights. He served as visiting professor at NYU and Stanford after having worked for the NAACP with Thurgood Marshall and served five years as Dean of University of Oregon’s School of Law. But, he’s quite undistinguished and can’t possibly deserve a tenured chair of law at Harvard. Right?

Is it possible that LaSalle University School of Law is one of those campuses one can buy one’s way through, if not with money then by credences of right-thinking, the “correct” ideological stance on major issues? Our noted former lawyer and continual know-it-all may be worth a great deal to his family and party, but to our country, he is surely worth less than a little toe on Barack Husain Obama’s right foot.

Speaking for myself, I saw the evils of soviet-style communism and the troubles latent in pure socialism well before my twenty-fifth year. UC Berkeley helped me toward populism, not idiocy. Only facists call me socialist. Benefits and obligations must find proper balance. That’s progressive. Go blind to your obligations or slip away from them, that’s not conservative, that’s backward. When you avoid recognizing your true obligations, you are willfully dishonest. But, it’s always the other guy. Right?

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