Ms. D.Z. Miller’s opinion piece of July 07, 2018 (Democrats: party of haters) is interesting in several ways. First, I find it interesting in how she chooses only a few Democrats as examples of haters. She has a point in that Representative Waters is wrong in urging people to harass supporters of President Trump (and no person should be asked to leave a restaurant because of her or his job). However, in using Saul Alinsky to attack Clinton and President Obama, I think she is mistaken.
In her Thesis for her B.A. degree, written in 1969, Clinton does not praise Alinsky as stated by Miller. Clinton is writing an academic paper in which she examines the tactics of Alinsky as a community organizer, so her personal opinion can’t be and was not expressed in the thesis. To do so would have violated the purpose of the paper, which by the way, was not written about Alinsky’s last book, Rules for Radicals. That was published in 1971, before Clinton’s thesis.
Alinsky was of Chicago. And he became a community organizer to change the city that he loved and despised. He went to the back of the back where he remembered the atmosphere in the neighborhood as…” a hell hole of hate…
When people talk about Back of the Yards today, some of them use lines like ‘rub resentments raw’ to describe my organizing methods. Now do you think when I went in there or when I go into a Negro community today I have to tell them that they’re discriminated against? Do you think I go in there and get them angry? Don’t you think they have resentments to begin with, and how much rawer can rub them? … What happens when we come in? We say ‘Look, you don’t have to take this; there is something you can do about it. You can get jobs, you can break the Segregation patterns. But you have to have power to do it, and you’ll only get it through. organization. Because power just goes to two poles–to those who’ve got money, and those who’ve got people. You haven’t got money, so your own fellowmen are your only source of power. Now the minute you can do something about it… You’re active. And all of a sudden you stand up. That’s what happened in Back Of the Yards.”
He helped organize the Back of the Yards Council and in 1939 its By-Laws stated that,
“…this organization is founded for the purpose of uniting all organizations within the community known as ‘Back of the Yards’ in order to promote the welfare of all residents of that community regardless of their race, color, or creed, so that they may all have the opportunity to find health, happiness and security through the democratic way of life.”
Miller writes that President Obama as a community organizer in Chicago “taught Alinsky’s tactics”. Well, I would hope that President Obama used the thirteen rules of Alinsky, including rule five that Miller cites as hateful. However, like any words, taken out of context, they appear hateful. However, to help the people back of the back, Alinsky used any tool that would help change to come as I am sure Obama did. Read all of Alinsky’s rules in their context of changing a broken and unjust system and decide if they are hateful as Miller writes.
Miller applauds President Trump as “a true fighter”, and I agree. However, I do not believe he fights for the disenfranchised citizens of our country. He fights, in my opinion, for his own ego and his toadies. Miller writes that President Trump does not “put up with lies”, and “We are fighting back in this war of words with the truth….” I wish it were so, but it is not, nor is it, in my opinion, with people such as Clinton or Obama. We need all current politicians to change their ways or resign and term limits for all elected officials will improve our country.
Miller writes for each of us “to have a cup of coffee with someone who sees things differently than you see them, [sic] and seek to understand where they are coming from. A little empathy and a little respect will go a long way.”
I agree with those last words, but neither Clinton, McConnell, Pelosi, Waters, Collins, Obama, or Trump will lead us to the land that Alinsky’s Council of 1939 envisioned. We must do that work.