Sunday, September 7, 2008

Jesus was a Community Organizer

The recent events orchestrated in St. Paul, MN to mock Barack Obama's pre-law school work in Chicago's Southside to help unemployed steel workers to find jobs, to set up childcare for poor families so they can work, or to find healthcare for the uninsured were offensive to many of my fellow Athenians, especially those who have performed similar acts of community service here in one of Georgia's poorest counties. 

Why the snide and cynical remarks from Mayor Giuliani and Govenor Palin?  Except to lower the bar for themselves and those who would vote for their candidate, there is no good reason.  Rovian scoffing that turns shrill from the lips of Governor Palin and just plain disingenuous when Giuliani asks "what's that?" has lost its currency along with the US dollar.  It will not work for much longer to keep acting like the world is too bad to be helped by the good done by teachers, coaches, "Y" directors, social workers of all stripes, legal services providers, pregnancy counselors, drug counselors, CASA workers, visitation supervisors. 

Saying that "Jesus was a community organizer" makes no claims to Obama being a Messiah or the One as those same cynics have tried to box him and his supporters.  (The Charlton Heston image was ironic at best if not plain offensive.)  Instead, the reminder of the work of the first century rabbi  properly recognizes and claims for many voters the very hope that gets us to do things like vote in the first place.  

Plus, trying to get most voters to laugh at Obama's excellent resume and its emergent hope is a failure at framing.  It fails because of who has been chosen to deliver the remarks, so far they've all claimed to be followers of the very one whose "community organizing" is world renowned.  It fails because the facts -- both those that confirm the quality of Obama's work along with those that confirm how well protected from their individual failings the speakers have been -- can be checked too easily.  Finally it fails because Obama actually was a community organizer and too many voters know how good a thing that has been.

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