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Thursday, September 04, 2008

UPDATE # 2: GOP Thinks Organizing In Your Community Is Worthless

CNN's Roland Martin Rips Mockery of Community Organizing

By: Christy Hardin Smith

Well, I suppose we should all just throw up our hands and let local children starve, let civil rights problems fester, and shut up and accept every problem for what it is: our lot in life.

Screw the poor. To hell with women being allowed to vote. Rollback the end of slavery. And get yer hazmat suits, because your environment is about to be sold off piecemeal to the highest bidder -- hunters, fishermen, and wildlife enthusiasts be damned.

Welcome to Republican world, where trying to make things better in your hometown makes you something they laugh at proudly. How's that feel America?

Correct me if I'm wrong, but without community organizers like Martin Luther King, Jr., we'd all still be dealing with separate water fountains for coloreds and Jim Crow Laws. And I mean the old ones, not the new poll tax crap that Hans Von Spakovsky keeps trying to sneak in through the sewers.

Oh, and ladies? No community organizers means that your voice doesn't count for shit. No vote for you!

Lost your job and you need a hand with the utility bills or some food from the local church pantry? Suck it up, America, because the folks who used to extend a hand to those in need don't count in Republican land. That "do unto others" crap has to stop, and Jesus was clearly just a rabble-rousing, do-gooder. Loaves, fishes, feeding the multitudes? Hogwash.

Your neighborhood watch program, to help supplement the police force whose budget keeps getting cut under the Bush Administration? Well, you don't deserve a safe neighborhood and your efforts are useless anyway.

Cleaning up a local riverbed or a walking trail with your kid's scout troop? Republicans think you are a loser.

Working with a job training or literacy program to help folks move from welfare to work? Republicans think your efforts deserve ridicule. Promoting a spay and neuter program at your local animal shelter? Republicans are laughing at you. Volunteer at your church pantry to help the least of these? Republicans are mocking you.

Country first? Only if you live in Republican country where they come first and the rest of us should take whatever they choose to trickle down on us.

Update: Shorter RNC Day Three: "Death To Community Organizers!"

You know, one of my great fears about John McCain's approach to national security is that he shows nary a whit of interest in busting out the ol' Google Map to find out the quickest route to the Afghanistan/Pakistan border, where our terrorist enemies dwell and flourish, unharmed and unmolested. But after tonight, it appears all but certain that there is one group of people who McCain truly will chase all the way to the Gates of Hell: community organizers.

That's right. Tonight at the RNC, the McCain campaign made their feelings about community organizers abundantly clear. Defeated primary opponents spit on their name. Conventioneers loudly mocked their existence. Sarah Palin told not one, but two jokes about them, which is certainly a comedy foul, because everyone knows you are supposed to use the Rule Of Three.

Tonight, community organizers were made to feel the brunt of the Republicans' smarmy derision. And for what? You know, one overworked conservative trope from tonight was that the American people should not expect the government to solve all of their problems. You know who would agree with that? Community organizers. These men and women serve a public duty, taking care of those who do fall through the cracks of government largesse, motivating citizens to give their time and sweat to serve society's needs without making an unnecessary dip in the taxpayer till.

Community organizers mobilize volunteers that are young and old. They work from churches and community centers. They go to work in small towns and big cities. They assist people of all ages, and all walks of life. They tutor children, care for the infirm, spend time with the elderly, get food to the hungry, clothes to the needy. They expand opportunities and improve lives.

Why, if I'm not mistaken, they even make sure that voters can get to the polls on those odd Tuesdays in November.

It was a little surprising to see the good work of community organizers subjected to such jeers tonight. Was I dreaming when I saw all those people in the hall holding placards that read, "Service?" No, they were in fact carrying such signs, but they were doing so Tuesday, when there was a possibility that a hurricane in the Gulf Coast mattered, and when Hookers And Blow weren't playing the big lobbyist bacchanal. Tonight, they were carrying signs that read "Prosperity," which I suppose is shorthand for, "Don't hope for a better tomorrow, let Cindy McCain buy it for you wholesale."

Here's a little bit of delicious irony. It's been pointed out to me tonight that on September 11, Senators McCain and Obama will appear in New York City, participating in a forum for Service Nation. The topic? Community service and volunteerism. I imagine that many of you might have come out of tonight's RNC festivities with great concerns about the future welfare of our nations' community organizers. You might share your concerns with the event's organizers, by contacting them here. With any luck, this forum could get quite awkward for one of these candidates!

Update #2: What a Community Organizer Does

By Joe Klein |

Slowly, slowly, I am recovering from the extremely effective bilge festival staged by the Republicans last night. And while there is much to discuss, there was one item, in particular, that has to be considered infuriating: the attack on Barack Obama's service as a community organizer by the odious Rudy Giuliani--he's come to look like a villain in a Frank Capra movie, hasn't he?--and Sarah Palin.
This morning, I received a press release from a group called Catholic Democrats about the work--the mission, the witness--that Obama performed after he got out of college. Here's the first paragraph:
Catholic Democrats is expressing surprise and shock that Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin's acceptance speech tonight mocked her opponent's work in the 1980s for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. She belittled Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama's experience as a community organizer in Catholic parishes on the South Side of Chicago, work he undertook instead of pursuing a lucrative career on Wall Street. In her acceptance speech, Ms. Palin said, "I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a community organizer, except that you have actual responsibilities." Community organizing is at the heart of Catholic Social Teaching to end poverty and promote social justice.
So here is what Giuliani and Palin didn't know: Obama was working for a group of churches that were concerned about their parishioners, many of whom had been laid off when the steel mills closed on the south side of Chicago. They hired Obama to help those stunned people recover and get the services they needed--job training, help with housing and so forth--from the local government. It was, dare I say it, the Lord's work--the sort of mission Jesus preached (as opposed to the war in Iraq, which Palin described as a "task from God.")
This is what Palin and Giuliani were mocking. They were making fun of a young man's decision "to serve a cause greater than himself," in the words of John McCain. They were, therefore, mocking one of their candidate's favorite messages. Obama served the poor for three years, then went to law school. To describe this service--the first thing he did out of college, the sort of service every college-educated American should perform, in some form or other--as anything other than noble is cheap and tawdry and cynical in the extreme.
Perhaps La Pasionaria of the Northern Slope didn't know this when she read the words they gave her. But Giuliani--a profoundly lapsed Catholic, who must have met more than a few religious folk toiling in the inner cities--should have known. ("I don't even know what that is," he sneered.") What a shameful performance.

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