I just got back from a fascinating panel discussion on community organizing. It was called, “Mr. Obama’s Neighborhood,” and was hosted by the Hudson Institute’s Bradley Center for Philanthropy and Civic Renewal. A transcript will be posted by Hudson in about a week, but video and audio files should be online shortly. C-SPAN TV was there covering the talk as well.
In a nutshell, two veteran community organizers refused to discuss how community organizing is essentially Marxist, while two conservative writers discussed how community organizing is all about wealth redistribution.
The organizers’ focus on process (i.e. the mechanics of community organizing) is to be expected: Saul Alinsky counseled aspiring agitators to never discuss their socialist beliefs because he knew that such ideas were deeply unpalatable to Americans.
Harry Boyte and James Capraro, the community organizers, painted a picture of community organizing as singing Kumbaya, holding hands, and getting to understand your neighbors. The conservative writers, Stanley Kurtz and Byron York, painted a bleaker picture of strongarm tactics in the pursuit of extremist ideals.
When the video and audio links are available, we’ll post them.
POST SCRIPT later the same day: To listen to the panel discussion, go to this page and click on the button marked “MEDIA CLIPS.” You can simply listen or download the audio file.