ANDREW C. McCARTHY: The ruler of law – The New Criterion
The ruler of law
by Andrew C. McCarthy
On “justice” in the age of Obama.
“Be careful how you make those statements, gentlemen.” Barack Hussein Obama had been president of the United States for all of two months. He was lecturing the titans of American finance who were struggling to explain—to a man with no meaningful business experience—how high salaries are necessary if American companies are to compete for talent in a global market.
“The public isn’t buying that,” scoffed the president. He wasn’t talking about the public, though. “My administration,” he warned, “is the only thing between you and the pitchforks.” The pitchforks: that’s his public.
Obama’s formative background is the left-wing fever swamp of Chicago “community-organizing,” a gussied-up term for systematic rabble-rousing—one it’s now even acceptable to put on a resumé. The quest for raw power is the gospel according to the seminal organizer, Saul Alinsky—if we may use “gospel” in connection with an atheist whose most famous book, Rules for Radicals, opens with an ode to Lucifer for winning his own kingdom by rebelling against the establishment.
In Obama terminology, “hope” is the possibility that power may be wrested from society’s “haves” by infiltrating their political system. Just as Willie Sutton robbed banks because that’s where the money is, organizers must target the very system they reject to acquire power—making themselves attractive to the great mass of society despite having “contemptuously rejected the values and the way of life of the middle class,” as Alinsky put it. This is the formula for transformational “change”: the exploitation of power, once acquired, to redistribute wealth and elevate the left’s professionally aggrieved vanguard.
Though this quest for “social justice” must tread through regular politics, it cannot be achieved by regular politics. That’s where the pitchforks come in. “Direct action”—as Mr. Obama’s longtime confederates at ACORN (the Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now) euphemistically put it—is the organizer’s signal tactic. Action, Alinsky taught, is the very point of organizing. “Direct action” is barely disguised code for the occasional use, and the omnipresent threat, of mob mischief, unleashed against the law-abiding bourgeoisie. The organizer prospers by defining down our ethical boundaries—or, looked at the other way, by legitimizing extortion.
“Grass-roots community organizing builds on indigenous leadership and direct action,” Obama wrote in his contribution to After Alinsky: Community Organizing in Illinois—a retrospective published fifteen years after Alinsky’s death in 1972. In another revealing passage, the up-and-coming organizer elaborated:
The debate as to how black and other dispossessed people can forward their lot in America is not new. From W. E. B. DuBois to Booker T. Washington to Marcus Garvey to Malcolm X to Martin Luther King, this internal debate has raged between integration and nationalism, between accommodation and militancy, between sit-down strikes and boardroom negotiations. The lines between these strategies have never been simply drawn, and the most successful black leadership has recognized the need to bridge these seemingly divergent approaches.