Billo Gets Schooled In Alinsky (Spoiler: Tea Party Uses His Tactics)

Thanks to Newt Gingrich, it appears that a refresher course in Saul Alinsky and his teachings are in order, because clearly Bill O'Reilly and his sidekick Monica Crowley have no clue, even with Alan Colmes there to try and set the record

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Thanks to Newt Gingrich, it appears that a refresher course in Saul Alinsky and his teachings are in order, because clearly Bill O'Reilly and his sidekick Monica Crowley have no clue, even with Alan Colmes there to try and set the record straight.

Let's start with the end of this clip, where Colmes correctly asserts that the group most effectively employing Alinsky's tactics is the tea party. It's true. Tea party organizing has been exactly what Alinsky advised young radicals to do.

Via The Guardian:

It hurt me to see the American army with bayonets advancing on American boys and girls. But the answer I gave to the young radicals seemed to me the only realistic one: "Do one of three things. One, go and find a wailing wall and feel sorry for yourselves. Two, go psycho and start bombing – but this will only swing people to the right. Three, learn a lesson. Go home, organise, build power and at the next convention, you be the delegates.

The tea party did this quite well, and the Occupy movement has taken some steps in that direction as well. Alinsky's message is clear: Don't simply protest. Act.

There's nothing radical about that at all, but to hear O'Reilly go on about it, it's just socialism, writ large. It's not socialism; it's democracy. Here was Alinsky's stated purpose, as laid out in "Rules for Radicals":

“What follows is for those who want to change the world from what it is to what they believe it should be. ‘The Prince’ was written by Machiavelli for the Haves on how to hold power. ‘Rules for Radicals’ is written for the Have-Nots on how to take it away.”

In a democracy, the power can only be with the people when the people stand up and speak for themselves, and then act on the collective message by inserting themselves into the political process. Tea partiers did this by protesting, and then running for school boards, state assemblies, state senates, and the United States Congress. It's classic Alinsky, which absolutely horrified Billo when Alan Colmes calmly pointed it out.

Bill O'Reilly isn't a fool. He knows this. But as long as he can keep the audience terrified of the name Alinsky without actually pointing out that the man was not some kind of radical socialist but one who believed in the power of communities and the disempowered to self-empower, he keeps the lie alive.

I took a moment to review Alinsky's Rules for Radicals. The actual text. I was mostly curious about where Monica Crowley got this idea:

CROWLEY: First of all, let's keep in mind who Saul Alinsky was and how he directly influenced Barack Obama. Saul Alinsky wrote Rules for Radicals in '71 and dedicated it to Lucifer. He was the godfather of the leftist --

O'REILLY: The devil.

CROWLEY: Yes! I'm not making it up.

Actually, Monica, you are making it up. Alinsky does mention Lucifer, but not as a dedication. The book is dedicated "To Irene." After the dedication there are three quotes. One from Rabbi Hillel, one from Thomas Paine, and one from Saul Alinsky, who is quoted as saying this:

Lest we forget at least an over-theshoulder acknowledgement to the very first radical: from all our legends, mythology, and history (and who is to know where mythology leaves off and history begins -- or which is which), the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom -- Lucifer

It is not a dedication, Monica. It's an acknowledgement. One that anyone would be free to agree or disagree with, depending upon whether they even acknowledge the existence of a Lucifer and a God. But it is not a dedication.

However, it will be effective with fearful people who think the black guy in the Oval Office is Lucifer incarnate. Or the antiChrist. So thanks for that, Monica.

Now here are Alinsky's tactical rules, straight from the book itself:

  • Power is not only what you have but what the enemy thinks you have.
  • Never go outside the experience of your people.
  • Wherever possible, go outside the experience of your enemy.
  • Make the enemy live up to their own book of rules.
  • Ridicule is man's most important weapon.
  • A good tactic is one your people enjoy.
  • A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag.
  • Keep the pressure on.
  • The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself.
  • The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition.
  • If you push a negative hard and deep enough it will break through into its counterside.
  • The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative.
  • Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.

Tell me, readers. How many of these are tactics the Tea Party used successfully in 2009-2010, particularly over the health care law?

About the only thing that could possibly be considered a threat to the right wing is Alinsky's frame: It is clearly a battle of Haves versus Have-Nots, which, given the time frame of its writing and the causes for which people were organizing, isn't unreasonable. Alinsky championed organizing for civil rights, for equality, and for economic opportunity.

It wasn't an accident that this segment aired just ahead of the State of the Union address. Republicans were counter-spinning all day without even having a clue what the President was going to say. Well, let me correct that. They knew he was going to speak about the obstructionist Congress, and they worked very hard to counterspin that because they knew Mitch Daniels would deliver a grey, milquetoast response, which he did.

How better to taint viewers' impressions than to remind them just ahead of the President's speech that he is really a dark, alien, malevolent figure who embraces men who dedicate their books to Lucifer? Bill O'Reilly loves to play the "reasonable guy", but his work is more evil than Hannity's. At least Hannity is out front with his hate, rather than just subtly playing into the fears of the ignorant crowds.

If only they had taken the time to actually learn about what Barack Obama agreed and disagreed with Alinsky on, like Dana Goldstein did:

It's fascinating that while Clinton thought Alinsky's shortcoming was his failure to build a politically powerful national movement, Obama ended up frustrated with the Alinsky methodology due to what he saw as its lack of heart. Rule number 5 of Alinsky's Rules for Radicals is "Ridicule is a man's most potent weapon." But as reported in Lizza's piece, Obama just wasn't down with that -- he inherently understood that even the powerful were constrained by circumstances beyond their control, and sought to reach out to them through understanding.

But then, Fox has never been all that keen on actually reporting facts, and this segment proves it.

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