“Community Organizers” Is a Dog Whistle

First, Roland Martin attacks Palin for her comments about community organizers:

And ScienceBlogling Matt Nisbet has the quote of the day:

Weren’t Jesus and Mother Teresa community organizers? Didn’t they, in the words of Palin, have “actual responsibilities?” Aren’t Evangelicals such as this group “Christians for Community Organizing” or this group “Evangelicals for Social Action” dedicated to community organizing? Aren’t faith based initiatives built on community organizing?

Matt is absolutely right on the merits, but, make no mistake about it, “community organizers” is code for ‘uppity black people who are taking your tax dollars.’ One thing that is becoming pretty clear is that the Republicans are making a desperate pitch to the remnants of Nixon’s ‘silent majority’ (which is getting very long in the tooth, and isn’t even close to a majority anymore either).
So, no Matt, according to Palin (although not according to the Coalition of the Sane), Jesus and Mother Teresa were not community organizers.
A related thought: is it me, or are the Republicans recycling the same slogans from the Nixon era? Spiro Agnew did it better….

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8 Responses to “Community Organizers” Is a Dog Whistle

  1. TomJoe says:

    Matt is absolutely right on the merits, but, make no mistake about it, “community organizers” is code for ‘uppity black people who are taking your tax dollars.’
    Bullshit. Come on, honestly … as vehemently anti-Republican as you appear to be, injected racism into that comment is uncalled for. She was firing back against attacks against her own experience, leveled towards her by Obama himself. It’s politics … this shit happens. Getting upset over one set of comments and not the other is plain old silly.

  2. cate says:

    In response to TomJoe, if you think the coded link isn’t clear, take a look instead at the National Review’s mocking of community organizers. Note how quickly they turn to “the only organizer they know” Al Sharpton: http://campaignspot.nationalreview.com/post/?q=ZDQwZmYxNTU3ZmNhN2Y5YTNlMzgxYjhhZWNiYWM1ZDI=

  3. Dean says:

    I haven’t decided what she meant about the community organizer comment (other than the obvious: she intended it to demean Obama in the eyes of her supporters). It would be interesting to know how TomJoe reconciles the bald-faced lies she told in her speech and since being introduced to us (being against the money for the “bridge to nowhere”, working to keep costs down, helping single mothers and handicapped children in her state). Does nobody care that she seems to be as much a congenital liar as Clinton, Romney, and their ilk?

  4. Matt Hussein Platte says:

    @TomJoe: you don’t get around this big old country, much, do you? Out here in the plains states there are few trees and no mountains to deflect the dog whistles, so they travel far and fast, especially now that the evenings are getting cooler.

  5. Obama was hired because the Developing Communities Project needed an organizer to go into black neighborhoods. All the other organizers were white. The model of community organization Jerry Kellmann was working from was Saul Alinsky’s; hardly an African American. So pretending it’s a racial code word is nonsense.
    As to whether it’s a worthwhile thing to be doing; after 3 years, Obama gave up on it. telling Jerry Kellmann he didn’t see community organizing was making any difference. He headed off for Harvard Law School.

  6. chris y says:

    Apparently the canonical version is: “Pontius Pilate was a governor; Jesus was a community organiser”.

  7. Gerald, your argument has a critical unstated assumption that Republican racist code words need to be based on actual facts to work. Thanks for the laugh. That’s like saying creationists don’t use the word “theory” to demean evolution because “theory” has an elevated meaning in science circles.
    I hate to break it to you Republicans, but this is your intellectual waterloo. If you can back this absurd, lying, blatantly contentless ticket the GOP has vomited forth, you deserve no intellectual respect, because clearly you will back ANYONE with an elephant next to their name if you do. It doesn’t get worse than this. Dole/Quayle would be an improvement.

  8. Brian X says:

    TomJoe, Gerald:
    Oh, come off it. No, it might not have been race-baiting, but the GOP’s intent to exploit racial fears down the stretch of this campaign was well-known months ago.
    And even if it wasn’t a specifically racial comment, how could it not be a dogwhistle? It speaks directly to the radical-Right narratives of self-reliance and “the poor deserve it/could leave if they want to” — the Right has consistently portrayed the poor as freeloaders and retards and the activists that fight for their rights as agitators and enablers. It happened in the South during the Civil Rights movement 40+ years ago, and it’s still happening now.
    (In Boston, there’s a state senator, Dianne Wilkerson, who represents some of the poorest parts of the city. She’s rather corrupt and has a notorious tin ear for ethics, and yet somehow gets reelected despite the fact that her district probably has dozens if not hundreds of neighborhood activists far more qualified to go to Beacon Hill. I think I’m starting to understand why none of them actually run.)

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