Saul Alinsky remains a target for right wing ideologues - righteologues - more than 40 years after his death. Righteologue bloggers and radio talkers talk dirty about Alinsky to make the case that whoever associated with him, the organizational network he inspired - IAF - or anyone who attended IAF National Training is a commie, red, lefty or at least a pinko.
It's all a bit bizarre and merits further inquiry. What's up with the obsessive invocation of Saul Alinsky?
Some partial explanations are obvious. Barack Obama attended Ten Day IAF Training in the mid nineteen eighties so tarring IAF with left wingism reinforces a narrative about the President. In this vein, Alinsky, Alinskyites, Obama, big government liberals become part of a seamless narrative fantasy/conspiracy. Of course at the moment Obama is their villain in chief.
Still, the venom directed at Alinsky himself after all these years raises a deeper question. What was it about Alinsky that triggers such rabidity?
My thinking is that Saul Alinsky was a far more provocative agitator than glib claims about his location on the left/right political spectrum imply. The fact is he was neither "left" or "right". His core teaching about the "Iron Rule" - never do for people what they can do for themselves defies catagorization, perhaps leans more right than left.
His opposition to the reelection of FDR certainly places him in this direction as well. Most important, Saul Alinsky was not a big government guy. Far from it. In two of his mmost famous quotes he described Lyndon Johnson's Great Society as "political pornography" and later "welfare colonialism". This is certainly not the language of a big government liberal.
So I repeat the question from a different angle. If Alinsky does not fit the righteologue narrative very well why does he remain central to it?
One place to look for an answer is in the psyches of the righteogues themselves. A characteristic of Alinsky's organizing and all of those following in his IAF footsteps is a clear determination to work across racial lines. TWO, Fight Kodak, Buffalo, CSO were all characterized by African American and/or Latino primary constituency and leadership.
Modern generation IAF organizations have continued in this vein invariably bringing together disparate racial and ethnic groupings. When the verbal subterfuge is stripped away, righteologues butt up against the inescapable, namely, that however they may jabber on about freedom and patriotism when it comes to crossing racial and ethnic lines they are miserable failures. In the absence of this intention and capacity what kind of freedom and patriotism are they really advancing? Only the Shadow knows for sure.