2008-10-24 / Columnists

From the Editor's Desk

Commentary By Howard Schwach

The commentary solely reflects the opinion of Wave Managing Editor Howard Schwach and not the opinion of the management of this paper, which can be found on the Editorial Page, page 4 of this issue..

Saul Alinsky was the quintessential liberal-radical and is considered by many to be a prophet.

He is generally thought of as the founder of modern community organizing in America, the political practice of organizing communities to act in their own general self-interest.

Although Alinsky's first work, "Reveille for Radicals" is perhaps bestknown, his "Rules for Radicals" is the book that codified the way community organizers should act if they want to lift the masses and assume power over both the government and the financial sectors.

In "Rules for Radicals," which was published in 1969 in conjunction with a new school that Alinsky set up to train radical community organizers, he wrote:

Any revolutionary change must be preceded by a passive, affirmative, nonchallenging attitude toward change among the mass of our people. They must feel so frustrated, so defeated, so lost, so futureless in the prevailing system that they are willing to let go of the past and change the future. This acceptance is the reformation essential to any revolution. To bring on this reformation requires that the organizer work inside the system, among not only the middle class but the forty percent of American families - more than 70 million people - whose income ranges from $5,000 to $10,000 a year. They cannot be dismissed by labeling them blue collar or hardhat. They will continue to be relatively passive and slightly challenging. If we fail to communicate with them, if we don't encourage them to form alliances with us, they will move to the right. Maybe they will anyway, but let's not let it happen by default."

In the 1930s Alinsky formed the "Back of the Yards Community Council" in Chicago, one of the worst neighborhoods in the city, bringing together political, religious and union leaders to overthrow the corrupt system that ruled them.

Over the years, however, his rules were radicalized by those who wanted not only to take over a corrupt government, but to take power simply for the ability to take power and control the community.

Two of the groups who hold closely to the Alinsky model or radical community organizing are the Queens Citizen's Organization (QCO), a church-based liberal activist group that is best known for the Nehemiah housing program and the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN).

I first ran into the QCO more than 15 years ago, when the city first set out to develop plans for the Arverne Urban Renewal Area. Even then, the battle was over whether "affordable" or "market rate" housing should be built in that large, 183-acre plot of beachfront land.

I had just come to The Wave from the Rockaway Journal and was sent to cover a QCO meeting at St. Mary's Star of the Sea Church in Far Rockaway. I was told that the pastor of that church was also the head of the local QCO chapter, so I did some research and found the organization's ties to Alinsky, somebody I had studied in college in the early 1960s.

I walked into the meeting and found several large tables covered with maps of Rockaway from Beach 35 Street all the way to Beach 73 Street. The maps showed delineated building plots, and QCO officials were "selling" those plots to locals, assuring them that the houses to be built on those plots would be theirs in a few short years for little money and lots of prayers.

The new "owners" were told to go off and convince their local politicians to vote for the low-income housing.

I started to take photos and talk to people, knowledgeable enough to know that no decisions had yet been made for the site and that most of the population favored "market rate" housing on the site.

When QCO officials, including the pastor, saw me taking photos, they quickly had me removed from the building. The Wave got lots of angry letters when we published the photos and a story the following week, some from QCO officials who said that we had invaded their privacy, some from locals who were angered that the church would be involved in such a fraud.

I was incensed that a religious institution would outright lie to people, promising them new homes that would never materialize.

My first contact with ACORN, an organization that I knew about peripherally, came when I was still teaching at IS 53 in Far Rockaway.

I had the habit at that time of picking up Newsday each day on my way to work. The front-page story blared the fact that the majority of gifted programs in the New York City public schools excluded blacks and Hispanics.

When I read the inside story, it named IS 53 in Far Rockaway as one of the worst in that regard. The story said that the school, located in a minority area, had six gifted classes, a total of 180 students without one minority student in the program.

I almost choked.

In fact, we had six gifted classes with 180 students, but only three of those students were white, and that number counted my daughter, Amy. and her friend, Maria.

I immediately called Newsday and got the editor on the phone. He told me that the statistics had come in a press release from ACORN, and I then noted that the organization was quoted throughout the article, decrying the state of minority education in Rockaway.

I told the editor that the story was all wrong and he had the story's reporter call me at school. He came to the building and saw for himself what was going on, and the paper printed a retraction the next day. He told me that he would never trust ACORN again.

ACORN officials, however, continued to argue that we faked the classes somehow and that I was not telling the truth about the racial makeup of the classes.

So, when ACORN came up during the last week's of this tendentious election, I was not at all surprised that its workers were cooking the books to get some more votes for Barak Obama, a man who they consider to be the holy grail of political candidates.

Both ACORN and Obama are heavily involved in Chicago's Woods Foundation, an organization committed to minority issues and an outgrowth of the Back of The Woods organization begun so many years ago by Saul Alinsky.

The Woods Foundation also has close ties to Bill Ayers, a former Weather Underground terrorist who said afther 9/11 that the terrorists should have thrown even more bombs as the United States. While Obama says that Ayers' terrorist days are long gone and that he is now a revered education professor at the University of Illinois, he recent rhetoric shows that he never gave up his radical ideas. In fact, Obama and Ayers share the leadership in a foundation dedicated to changing education in Chicago, one that the superintendent of Chicago's schools says is really a failure.

Like the QCO and ACORN, that foundation is an outgrowth of the Back of the Woods organization and follows Alinsky's rules.

This week, as reported in a New York Times article, ACORN put some of its own spin on the way it registered new voters. At a news conference, officials with the group acknowledged cases in which workers submitted false or duplicate registrations, but argued that the fraudulent ones were only a small percentage of all of the people then registered to vote.


Here are the facts:

ACORN's political action wing has endorsed Obama.

The Obama campaign has paid an ACORN front organization $832,000 for get-out-the-vote activities.

Before launching his political career, Obama was the Illinois coordinator for the organization.

As a lawyer, Obama represented ACORN in a voter-registration suit against the State of Illinois.

Those are the facts, and it is clear, at least to me, Obama is in bed with ACORN, an old-line, ultra-liberal, winat any-cost radical group.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has announced that an investigation into ACORN's voter registration activities have come under investigation.

The investigation is looking into whether there is evidence of a coordinated national voter-registration scam.

And there is no way his campaign should be able to spin those facts.

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