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Thursday, September 04, 2008

Simmering Hissy

by dday

Barack Obama was asked about the persistent attacks on community organizing at the RNC last night, and he eventually gets to a good response.

I thought the open was a bit defensive ("I've done a lot of things!") but then he found the nut:

I would argue that doing work in the community, to try to create jobs, to bring people together, to rejeuvenate communities that have fallen on hard times, to set up job training programs in areas that have been hard-hit when the steel plants close, that that's relevant only in understanding where I'm coming from, who I believe in, who I'm fighting for, and why I'm in this race. And the question I have for them is, why would that kind of work be ridiculous? Who are they fighting for? What are they advocating for? Do they think that the lives of those folks who are struggling each and every day, that working with them to try to improve their lives is somehow not relevant to the Presidency? I think maybe that's the problem. That's part of why they're out of touch and they don't get it, because they haven't spent much time working on behalf of those folks.

Combine this with some remarks about being called uppity, since the slur on community organizing was unquestionably tied to the race of those being organized, and there you have it.

I should remind you that John McCain, who talks about serving a cause greater than himself, today cancelled a Habitat for Humanity event because, I guess, that sight of people actually helping their communities would be too blinding for him. Either that or he just wanted to offer up one of his 12 homes instead of doing the work of building one, I don't know.

The point is that this is part of the authoritarian mindset. They don't think the people should have any say in the key questions affecting their lives. They don't believe in anyone but them, the wise leaders, having a voice. It is elitist to the extreme, and has characterized the Republican form of government from the founding of the United States onward. We know that it's the community organizers who have beaten back the status quo and offered real hope to this country. We know that without community organizing, there wouldn't be civil rights or labor rights or women's rights, or American constitutional rights, for that matter. And we know that, when challenged by anyone who comes out of that movement, who comes out of the community and the grassroots, the answer from these moneyed elites is to call them "uppity." To tell them they don't know their place. That they ought not try to empower their community. That they ought to shut up like the boys that they are and sit down and let the adults run things.

It's time to actually get angry about this.

UPDATE: Some great responses here. My favorite:

Community Organizers of America: The last thing we need is for Republican officials to mock us on television when we’re trying to rebuild the neighborhoods they have destroyed. Maybe if everyone had more houses than they can count, we wouldn’t need community organizers. But I work with people who are getting evicted from their only home. If John McCain and the Republicans understood that, maybe they wouldn’t be so quick to make fun of community organizers like me.

Its time to backlash the backlash.