New Orleans Like a bad penny, it pops up again that rightwing activists like the Landrieu bungling James O’Keefe have spent hours poring through Saul Alinksy’s Rules for Radicals for tips as if it were a “how to” manual. I’m constantly surprised to get flaming emails quoting one of Saul’s rules or another and how it is being applied to “come after me,” even as I’m delighted to see Citizen Wealth and Rules paired as a special purchase. What’s up with all of this?
At one level it’s a case of life imitating art and thinking it is life imitating life. What the O’Keefe’s think they are taking from Alinsky, according to their statements on web interviews quoted in the Times is a sense of tactical extreme or taking a contradiction to its outer limits. Most of these favored stories in Rules though were exactly that: stories. They were well timed and pointed tactical threats, boring on a common organizing principle (though I can’t remember if this were a “rule”) that the “threat is always more powerful than the action.” Many of these colorful and oft told tales of Alinsky actions from Rules were only tales that demonstrated what might have been or backroom threats at what could have been, and certainly never were what actually happened. It’s one thing obviously to threaten that you will bring busloads of African Americas to the Chicago Symphony or whatever after having filled them full of beans, but it is a whole different thing to actually organize people to do such a ridiculous stunt that most would find demeaning and even racist. Never happened, captain!