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Thursday, Sep 4, 2008, 11:07 am

Spitting In The Faces of Community Organizers

By Jarrett Dapier
Chris Hayes on the GOP disdain for community organizers:

I suppose it's not surprising that Republican politicians aren't enthused about community organizers since often they're the ones who are getting their ass kicked by them. (Just ask Rudy.) Also, I'm assuming they didn't read The Nation's forum on just this topic in the last issue.

But this kind of hits me where I live, since my dad is a community organizer, so lemme spell this out: the difference between a community organizer and a politician is that a community organizer can't tell anyone what to do. They have to listen. So they can't order books banned from a library to indulge their own religious sensibilities. They can't fire someone because they didn't follow orders to fire an estranged family member. They can't ram through a $15 million dollar sports complex that leaves their local town groaning underneath the debt. Unlike politicians, they don't have any power other than the power of people who want to see something changed.

Decades ago, before the ADA and a raft of other legislation, schools had essentially no requirements to provide decent education for special needs children. Then a movement of parents, engaging in - gasp - community organizing changed that. And they continue to fight day in and day out for educational equity for children like Sarah Palin's.

Jarrett Dapier is a former assistant publisher at In These Times. Previous work for ITT includes interviews with playwright Christopher Shinn and Fugazi guitarist, Ian Mackaye. He currently works with teens at the Evanston Public Library where he runs a recycled drumming program and directs stage adaptations of young adult literature. He lives in Evanston, IL.

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