Friday, February 05, 2010

The Alinsky Lie and Catholics

Back a while ago, I posted a brief list of the Alinskyite groups supported by Catholic dollars around the State of Wisconsin.

This is hardly the only place where that happens. San Francisco is another, and a blogger out there has some thoughts.

Around 2003, I was invited to cover a mayoral candidate debate in San Francisco sponsored, I was told, by a number of Catholic parishes and other congregations which had formed together as the Bay Area Organizing Committee (BAOC). When I got to the forum and found myself among a sea of purple jackets, I realized that BAOC was really SEIU.

One of the guys in a purple jacket took the mike for a pep talk before the candidates arrived and paraphrased for the assembled a lesson from Saul Alinsky, “Power is power, but the appearance of power is also power.

The red-highlighted phrase is very important to what follows.

It is a brilliant thought in its veracity and application, but its employment as a tactic involves lying.

The lie works like this. A community organizer will invite a pastor or parish leader to join a coalition in the pursuit of some worthy, and generally innocuous, local cause – say the installation of a stop light at a dangerous intersection. The coalition gets their stop light, and the pastor and few parishioners who were involved are surprised that they were able to get something done at City Hall. So they join the organizing committee.

Now the dishonesty begins. In every subsequent action of the organizing committee, the group will say that they represent the total number of registered families in the congregations which have joined the committee. So, for instance, the San Francisco Organizing Project (SFOP) claims to represent 40,000 San Franciscans through 30 different Catholic, Protestant and Jewish congregations.

But only a very small number of parishioners from each of those congregations have had any involvement with SFOP. Many will have no idea that the organization exists and most would be surprised to know that, by virtue of their parish membership, they are among the 40,000 people who make up SFOP.

And perhaps not many at all will agree with what Common Ground, Esther, Jonah, Voces de la Frontera, Amos, Joshua, and RIC want, either. In fact, it's likely that most members would firmly object to the goals.

To be sure, 'the lies' are not perpetrated by the priest(s) who run the parishes which "signed up" as sponsors or members--and maybe not even by the parish representatives sent to the meetings, or whose names are on the masthead.

But lies they are, indeed.

"The appearance" is the game.

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