Organizing a Counterattack
Posted by Matthew Brian Hersh on September 4, 2008
As John Atlas has pointed out, the GOP strategy on Wednesday night was to have vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani try to discredit the purpose, effect, and overall worth of community organizing and responsible citizenship. So it’s no surprise that organizers have begun to, well, organize a response.
And while we know that Palin and Giuliani were throwing red meat to the Republican crowd, it will be interesting to follow this blowback, and particularly how folks outside the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul will handle the RNC message.
Already, the national organization Catholic Democrats has crafted a response to Palin’s speech expressing “surprise and shock” while lambasting the Alaska governor for denigrating Sen. Barack Obama’s work in Catholic parishes in poor neighborhoods on Chicago’s south side. Said Dr. Patrick Whelan, president of Catholic Democrats:
It is shocking that a vice presidential candidate would disparage an essential component of the Catholic Social Tradition with her condescending attack on urban community organizing.
Her divisive rhetoric, repeatedly pitting small towns against urban communities, demonstrates not only a lack of charity toward the needs of some of the least among us but a fundamental disrespect for those who dedicate their lives to overcoming poverty across our country. Her sarcastic tone is also emblematic of the contempt that she and Senator McCain have shown toward actually addressing the economic distress that is gripping America in these difficult times. Economic issues, including extreme poverty, are among the most important to Catholics and other people of faith in this election.”
Meanwhile, John Raskin, founder of Community Organizers of America, along with other organizers, have launched a Web site, demanding an apology from Gov. Palin here, saying they were “taken aback by a series of attacks from Republican leaders at the GOP convention,” defending their “work organizing Americans who have been left behind by unemployment, lack of health insurance and the national housing crisis.”
Blogger Roger Catlin puts Palin’s comments into political perspective saying that while Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani delivered breathtakingly mean-spirited addresses Wednesday, “at least they’re not up for higher office any more.”
But Sarah Palin is, and as her family sat and smiled and plastered the baby’s hair down with spit, she accepted her nomination and joined Giuliani in mocking community organizing as a pretty much a joke.
(Just an aside, New York Times columnist David Brooks said Mitt “drifted so far right, I’m sort of, my mind is boggling.”)
Just yesterday, before the GOP decided to caricature — and write off the votes of — some of the hardest working people in America, Alice Chasan posted on Rooflines about L. David Alinsky’s (son of Saul) reflections on last week’s DNC:
All the elements were present: the individual stories told by real people of their situations and hardships, the packed-to-the rafters crowd, the crowd’s chanting of key phrases and names, the action on the spot of texting and phoning to show instant support and commitment to jump into the political battle, the rallying selections of music, the setting of the agenda by the power people.
About the author more Â»
Matthew Brian Hersh proudly served as senior editor at Shelterforce from March 2008 to October 2012. He studied English at Rutgers University and has spent his professional career in journalism, policy, and politics. He displays many of the trappings of a New Jersey sports fan: dispirited Mets fan, former Nets fan before they left the state, and normally satisfied Giants fan. Hersh lives in Highland Park, NJ with his wife and two children.