Obama: The Community Organizer

October, 2008 Feature--Truth Based Logic

Concept of the outside community organizer: Functional issues & historic examples, with particular reference to Senator Obama, his background & perspective.

Much has been made of Senator Obama's post-collegiate experience as a "Community Organizer" in Black (Negro) areas of the vast Chicago Southside. At the Republican Convention, the mere concept obtained some 'mileage' as a source for humor. The idea of an Ivy League College boy coming, full of the Leftwing theories & notions so popular in certain Colleges and Universities in post McKinley America, to tell those living in a large ethnic community how to organize that community is, admittedly, inherently funny. It is not humor in any way peculiar to the racial makeup of south Chicago; indeed, no different from that found in the idea of a White Sociology major from an 'ivy towered' Northern academy, going into a remote small White community in the Southern hills, to tell the rooted inhabitants how to solve social "problems," which they may not see as problems.

While the few real Conservatives who still attend Republican Conventions--and we consider the Vice Presidential candidate one such--certainly enjoyed the good natured humor at the Senator's expense; outside the Convention, the Conservative focus on the subject was somewhat different. There--as here--there was more real concern at the young Obama's sense of direction; at his Marxist mentors; at the real immediate--as opposed to stated--objectives of his organizing effort. Can anyone trust one who, not so long ago, was clearly in the ideological camp which gave the world both the Communist and Nazi revolutions? And yet, there may be still more significant aspects to the subject of an outside community organizer, which have been given very little, if any, attention. It is those aspects to which we would now draw attention.

Community Organizer

Granted that the Chicago Southside had real problems in the era. Nothing in that scenario made the post-College Barrack Obama the fitting "problem solver." Cohesive communities, like true nations, have a certain 'personality.' It would be very difficult for any outsider, even one coming from a kindred background, to completely represent the personality of a community within which he has no roots. But Obama has no background connection with rooted American Negroes. For one whose heritage is White Kansan & Kenyan Luo tribesman, coming out of Harvard or Columbia full of Leftist sociological notions, to believe that he should be showing Southside Chicago how to organize, is beyond mere hubris. It smacks of the same arrogant, 'one size fits all' mentality, which characterizes his ongoing political campaign today. Yet what actually were the likely effects of his organizational effort on those whom he claims to have served?

Most of the Negro population of Chicago originated in the South. The significance is manifold; but what is of especial interest, here, is that the Obama foray was hardly the first time that outsiders had made inappropriate efforts to "organize" their communities.

After the tragic events of the 1860s, the South--whether from a White or Black perspective--was in shambles. Ravished by war, occupied by a hostile Army; people had to look within for the strength to rebuild and go forward. But the Southern Negro--adjusting to a new "Freedom"--was not given the chance to develop a natural leadership. No longer seen as property on the Plantation, he was coveted as political property by the Radical wing of the Republican Party--to be treated to an early dose of the outside "Community Organizer." The Government in Washington was going to make everyone "equal," with the "vote," "forty acres & a mule." What was the result? It is a bit of history not generally known, certainly not generally taught. But looking to others to solve your problems is never a very sound idea.

In the old South, each of the great Plantations had been something of a self-contained social order. Prior to 1860, a substantial number of Southern Negroes had been trained as skilled craftsmen. Even those on the Left have acknowledged that most of those in the skilled trades in the Ante-Bellum South were Negroes. Gunnar Myrdal, the Swedish Socialist, responsible for An American Dilemma, the 1944 book cited by the Warren Court in reversing over a century of far better thought out legal precedents in the school integration cases, set the percentage of Negroes among skilled mechanics in the South, in 1865, at 80%. The 1950 edition of the Encyclopaedia Of Social Sciences (Vol. XI, p. 339) set the Negro proportion at 5/6 of the total. Certainly, then, there was considerable opportunity in the need to rebuild war torn communities. But that called for individual responsibility, something not necessarily promoted by the horde of Community Organizers who descended upon the conquered Confederacy.

By 1890, according to the last source, Negro percentages in key trades had fallen to 33.2% of plasterers, 28.2% of masons, 20.3% of blacksmiths, 16.1% of carpenters, 10.9% of painters, 2.7% of printers and 2.5% of machinists. Of this unfortunate decline, and the role of those whom Senator Obama would describe as "Community Organizers," Frederick L. Hoffman, Statistician for the Prudential Insurance Company, wrote in Race Traits And Tendencies Of The American Negro (New York: American Economic Assn., MacMillan, 1896, p. 286):

While . . . some able men of the colored race have sounded the word of warning and have preached the gospel of hard work and self-help, the great majority of those who have undertaken to direct the fortunes of the negro race have, through a false education, diverted the tendencies of the race in a direction which must lead to disaster.

Hoffman quotes a Negro Professor, Hugh M. Browne, who laments his people's turning away from the useful occupations in his boyhood, "White men have risen to wealth and fame through the very classes of labor which we foolishly despise as menial, and they are bringing science and art into these today and elevating them beyond our reach." It was from this social disaster, flowing from a breakdown in personal responsibility--if not solely attributable to the influence of outside "Community Organizers," certainly not given proper attention in their social theories--that the great Negro educator, Booker T. Washington, tried to redeem the Southern Negro through education and self-improvement. In place of wish lists, he urged vigorous self-development and, above all, an acceptance of personal responsibility.

From the time of his celebrated address to the Atlanta Exposition in 1895 (link below), until a sadly premature death in 1915, Washington was recognized as the most influential spokesman for the American Negro, particularly in his beloved South; while beneficial effects from his reasoning continued to resonate to mutual advantage until the advent of the New Deal in 1933. Under Washington's wise counsel, there was steady improvement. By 1930, the Negro crime rate was markedly lower, the family structure--as reflected in such things as a decline in births out of wedlock--clearly stronger.

Yet after 1909, Washington was challenged by the founders of the NAACP--all Northern White Socialists except for a mulatto Marxist, W. E. B. Dubois, included for appearances. While the NAACP claimed--as Senator Obama, over 70 years later--that their organization was to uplift the Negro, Booker T. Washington was alarmed by their deceptive tactics and confrontational approach to race relations. When the NAACP leadership invited Washington to a conference on education, to be held at their headquarters in the spring of 1913, Washington excused himself. Still, he did offer to send a representative of his Tuskegee Institute, if they "could see your way clear to have the meeting held at some place other than the headquarters of the Association for the Advancement of Colored People." [See Washington's March 21, 1913, letter to Oswald Garrison Villard, one of the White Fabian Socialists--dare we say outside "Community Organizers?"--who set up the NAACP.] As Washington explained in the letter:

I think it would be a mistake to confuse the work which that organization is doing with education in the South. . . . it would be impossible for a meeting of the character you name to be held at the headquarters of the Association without such a meeting being associated with the work of the Association. I am not undervaluing the work of the Association, but we must face conditions as they actually are in the South. . . . Of course you will naturally conclude, I fear, I have taken a pretty narrow view of the whole matter and am too fearful, but I am basing my statements upon actual observations and experience.

Note how the true leader of the Southern Negro forebears of Southside Chicago, in Obama's day, politely points out the inappropriateness of Northern Socialists, coming in to attempt to meddle with Southern education. Alas, that there was no man of Washington's stature in Chicago to stand up to Obama, seventy years later!

Booker T. Washington continued to work to keep his followers and associates from getting involved with the new militant organization, primarily run by Northern White Leftists, until his untimely death. His way remained a pursuit of social progress along well proven paths. Yet despite the success of that home grown course, outside manipulators--Senator Obama's "Community Organizers"--kept pushing collectivist values and dogmatic wares over the decades. Gradually, in the 1930s & 1940s, Washington's sound, community inspired, values--as reflected in social statistics-- were undermined; and in a torrent from the 1950s onward, the very family structure of his people literally broke down, as crime and illegitimacy became virtual norms in the Black inner cities of America.

Senator Obama is fond of talking about needs for employment and health care, while identifying with the "Civil Rights" Movement. Yet for all the glib talk, he has yet to show he even comprehends the damage that Leftist Community Organizers have done to the American Negro. One wonders if his father's Luo tribesmen, in Kenya, would tolerate such Community Organizers in their own lands.

We realize that the outside "Community Organizer" comes in many different forms & shapes. What all have in common, however, in addition to an arrogant first premise, is an indifference to those qualities that make any particular community unique; for the actual inequality of man & woman; for the fact that people are not interchangeable. Whether demagogue, parasite, compulsive "do-gooder" or ideological fanatic, they all march to drummers that can never truly reflect the cadence or essence of the community they seek to organize. Their motives are not altruistic but ego driven.

That Senator Obama is indeed cut from the same Leftwing cloth as the Reconstructionists of the 1860s, or the "Civil Rights" activists from 1909 onward, there is little doubt. Again, he has repeatedly identified with the "Civil Rights" movement. He even took his former White-hating Pastor, Rev. Wright, to task for advocating self-help, without premising personal responsibility on first "changing" America. Articulate, pitching slogans to the gullible, Obama is a contemporary manifestation of the political 'snake oil' salesman, who throughout the history of popular suffrage has offered seductive wish driven phrases to those most easily corrupted. "Community Organizer," in the Obama sense, is a euphemism for social agitator; one peddling corruption via an entitlement mentality. Wise men will tell him that he is not welcome in their community.

William Flax

Booker T. Washington Outlines Path To Racial Progress

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