“Street Organizer”

“Street Organizer”

J Street reader PS emails a link to the RNC’s new oppo site on Obama called “Meet Barack Obama.” (You can Google it. I’m not gonna dignify it with a link.) He notes their description of Obama’s job on the south side of Chicago as a young man is not “community organizer” as the job is commonly known, but rather “street organizer.”

Nice. Frankly, in order to elicit the maximum degree of racial stereotyping I would have gone with “ghetto operative” or “slum captain” but I suppose that would have been too obvious.

UPDATE: Instaputz among others points to this Times article as reason not to get too worked up over “street organizer”:

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J Street reader PS emails a link to the RNC’s new oppo site on Obama called “Meet Barack Obama.” (You can Google it. I’m not gonna dignify it with a link.) He notes their description of Obama’s job on the south side of Chicago as a young man is not “community organizer” as the job is commonly known, but rather “street organizer.”

Nice. Frankly, in order to elicit the maximum degree of racial stereotyping I would have gone with “ghetto operative” or “slum captain” but I suppose that would have been too obvious.

UPDATE: Instaputz among others points to this Times article as reason not to get too worked up over “street organizer”:

[Senator Kirk] Dillard said, “I remember Rickey chiding Obama that, ‘What do you know, Barack? You grew up in Hawaii and you live in Hyde Park. What do you know about the street?’ To which Obama shot back: ‘I know a lot. I didn’t exactly have a rosy childhood. I’m a street organizer by profession and a lot of my area, once you get outside the University of Chicago neighborhoods, is just as tough as your West Side, Rickey.’ “

I’m not really buying it. First of all this is a third hand recollection of a conversation years ago, and obviously the term “street organizer” here is pretty context dependent. Someone said, “you’re a softie” and Obama said “I know the streets!” One could imagine someone else in that situation responding by saying, “I’m a street-figher, man. I won’t back down.” It wouldn’t make much sense to then refer to that person as a “street-fighter” in quotations.

But even if Obama has, at some point a “street organizer” the question is why the RNC chose this esoteric phrase over the far-more-common-community organizer. I think the answer to that is obvious.

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