Saturday, April 6, 2013

Hillary clinton's 1969 thesis on saul alinsky, 21 comments:.

hillary clinton master's thesis

Alinsky sounds like a struggle junkie but one with a eye on making a buck from all his leftie fans who can't quite bring themselves to get slung in the clink after a demo.

"A man's right to a job transcends private property" Ya......Let's all claim jobs at the White House see how transcendent the secret service finds you.

hillary clinton master's thesis

This explains why she is who she is and why she gets along with her king of fools!

I think her dissertation is quite thorough.Her interviews and her research showed that though Alinsky was despised by some ( and still is; obvious from the comments). He brought to hope top the hopeless and helped people break out of mold that those in power would like to keep the powerless in. His strategies paid off for those who worked for social justice and human rights and continues to do so. Alinsky is American as apple pie.He remains an icon much admired around the world.

Her dissertation ignores so much of who Alinsky was; he spoke of democracy but advocated for powerful individuals/groups or government control of peoples lives using agitation, demonization and contrived grievances to achieve violent power grabs or induce capitualization though the use of guilt, all achieved by "any means" including lies, liable, slander, criminal activity and manipulating the public, all to gain access to power and then the power itself. His goal was to attain power above all things and to use that power to force his version of societal and environmental utopia upon everybody else. In his eyes only he and the elightened 'radicals' with power should decide how you would live your life. He compares himself to our founding fathers when in reality he was a left wing statist. He stated that he was an anti-fascist, but used fascist tactics, propaganda and violence, to exert control and gain power. Hillary's thesis states that he believed only a strong central government using authoritarian power and force could engage in the social engineering needed to bring about the "equality" of people, not equal opportunity but equal outcomes, and then she states he wanted a democracy. This is such an illogical conclusion that belies her own analysis. Had I been her professor she would have failed. Hopefully the American public has woken up enough from experiencing the horrendous mess of the country and the world the current statist in the Oval office has made to shake off their public school miseducation and elect anybody else but Ms. "what difference does it make at this point (that an American Ambassador and American heroes were killed by terrorists in Benghazi because I did not provide them the security forces they needed an did not do anything to help once they were attacked, and then lying about it to cover it up so Obama could be elected)?" Clinton.

Ok, your an IDIOT too!

Look who's talking. If you has lived in any of the socialist countries, you would be able to recognize the reality. Dream on.

Tacky is illiterate. Should that affect our opinions about her opinions ?

"He brought to hope top the hopeless." May I quote you on that, Tacky? Such brilliance!

Oh look, a grammar Nazi.

Braindoctor: you said " Hillary's thesis states that he believed only a strong central government using authoritarian power and force could engage in the social engineering needed to bring about the "equality" of people, not equal opportunity but equal outcomes, and then she states he wanted a democracy." Nowhere did she say all that before saying he wanted a democracy. What she said was: "Alinsky, ever consistent in his inconsistency, recently expanded his radical commitment to the eradication of powerless poverty and the injection of meaning into affluence. His new aspect, national planning, derives from the necessity of entrusting social change to institutions, specifically the United States Government." If you are trying to say that she left things out about him deliberately to cast his shadow from herself, I don't know what she had to hide as a college student in the '60s. I do know that with a writing project, anything straying from the topic (in this case the analysis of a model)and anything undermining its cohesiveness goes. I was reading it to see if she really "follows" Alinsky. Seems to me she can't handle his inconsistencies and she points out his problems. Many democrats are community organizers and even follow Alinsky. One would think that NOT being allowed to organize, for lack of the other power, money, would be a very scary control tactic undermining democracy that I never want to see in the U.S.

I have read Michelle Obama's Princeton Thesis and it sounds like a ninth grader wrote it.

Her mental age is 9th grade level! Affirmative action and federal money were her support at Princeton!

Hillary, as Obama, is a socialist. If there are enough fools to elect her to follow Obama we will be a socialist state within her first four years. What all who follow Alinsky's theory really want is power and control. That llust for power is driven by the elitest attitude that they are smarter than all the rest if us an dtherefore thewy know what is best for us. It is also driven by a pathological level of narcissism. The best example of an elitist narcissistic personality disorder is Barack Obama. His picture should be included next to the diagnosis description.

Mr. Tax Mule: You nailed it!

The Socialist is after only one thing :and that is power. He will mask his true desires as though he were seeking something for the people. since in any society there are always poor people...exact equality is an impossible thing and not even desirable , The socialist , being a narcissist , thinks he knows better than the people what is good for them. . He thinks he can re-arrange the basic elements of society like the placement of chess pieces on a board. Obozo is the first true socialist we have elected. . They , the socialists are dangerous people and have made some of the world's worst despots. Stupid people will elect a Socialist. It appears to them that they have and will obtain something for nothing. .

What is true "Power To The People" - True Power To The People core basis is based off of individual rights self determination, along with self rule. It is not based on power to the state which only breeds corruption as can be seen presently through crony capitalism. Communism and Socialism are based on the collective not the individual and goes against human nature. I believe it is possible that Alinsky might have been closer aligned with the Tea Party Movement then what might be perceived as an out and out communist. Communism Socialism are only modern form of feudalism forcing humans to be serfs slaves or wards of the state with central control done by the power elites and dictators in the modern sense they are the kings and queens of old from feudalism. Appreciate any comments.

The truth is: Joseph B. Meegan was the genius, Founder and long time Executive Director of "The Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council (BYNC)."

My personal thought on Socialism is that it is Communism's first cousin.

hillary clinton master's thesis

Rules for Radicals was dedicated to the devil. Alinsky calls Lucifer "the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment." Also, he said, "if there is an afterlife,...I will unreservedly go to hell."

The love of power vs the love of service. Reagan said Communism is not an economic system or a political system. It is insanity. Lenin said to kill 3/4 of the population is worth it if it results in 1/4 of the people being communist. Alinsky is akin with enslavers masqerading as liberators.

Reading Hillary Rodham's hidden thesis

Hillary Rodham in 1965, when she was president of Wellesley College's Young Republicans, shown here with the cover page of her senior thesis from 1969 on radical organizer Saul D. Alinsky.

The senior thesis of Hillary D. Rodham, Wellesley College class of 1969, has been speculated about, spun, analyzed, debated, criticized and defended. But rarely has it been read, because for the eight years of Bill Clinton’s presidency it was locked away.

As forbidden fruit, the writings of a 21-year-old college senior, examining the tactics of radical community organizer Saul D. Alinsky, have gained mythic status among her critics — a “Rosetta Stone,” in the words of one, that would allow readers to decode the thinking of the former first lady and 2008 presidential candidate.

Despite the fervent interest in the thesis, few realize that it is no longer kept under lock and key. As found, it is available to anyone who visits the archive room of the prestigious women’s college outside Boston. With Clinton’s opponents in the 2008 presidential race looking for the next “Swift Boat” attack ad, and the senator herself trying to cast off her liberal image, Clinton's 92-page thesis is certain to be read and reread by opposition researchers and reporters visiting the campus.

But can an academic paper from nearly 40 years ago really unlock the politics and character of any former student, much less the early Democratic front-runner for the White House?

This is your chance to decide before the political spin machines get their hands on it.

Before reading Hillary Rodham's assessment of the old radical from Chicago — Alinsky's “compelling personality,” “his exceptional charm,” and the limitations of his “anachronistic” tactics — it’s important to understand how the document was sealed and how it has been portrayed.

Just as conservative authors have speculated, it was the Clintons who asked Wellesley in 1993 to hide Hillary Rodham's senior thesis from the first generation of Clinton biographers, according to her thesis adviser and friend, professor Alan H. Schechter, who describes taking the call from the White House. [See sidebar: "A stupid political decision." ]

Wellesley's president, Nannerl Overholser Keohane, approved a broad rule with a specific application: The senior thesis of every Wellesley alumna is available in the college archives for anyone to read -- except for those written by either a "president or first lady of the United States."


So far, that action has sealed precisely one document: Hillary Rodham’s senior honors thesis in political science, entitled " ‘There Is Only the Fight...’: An Analysis of the Alinsky Model."

‘Alinsky's daughter’ Many authors on the long shelf of unsympathetic Clinton biographies have envisioned the thesis as evidence of Marxist or socialist views held by young Hillary — or conversely as proof of her political agnosticism, a lack of any ideology besides a brutal willingness to attack opponents and accumulate power in the Alinsky style.

David Brock, in his 1996 biography, "The Seduction of Hillary Rodham," called her "Alinsky's daughter."

[Photo via Newscom]

Barbara Olson, the conservative lawyer and commentator, used an Alinsky quote to open every chapter of her 1999 book, "Hell to Pay: The Unfolding Story of Hillary Rodham Clinton." Olson, who died in the Sept. 11 terror attacks, had charged in her book that the thesis was locked away because Clinton "does not want the American people to know the extent to which she internalized and assimilated the beliefs and methods of Saul Alinsky."

Under Wellesley's rule, Clinton's thesis became available to researchers again when the Clintons left the White House in 2001 — available only to those who visit the Wellesley archives. But few have made the trip, and the document's allure continued to grow.

A purloined copy was offered for sale on eBay in 2001, then withdrawn when Clinton's staff cited copyright law.

The New York Times Literary Brunch

Bill O'Reilly waved a few pages on Fox TV in 2003, chiding Wellesley for hiding Clinton's analysis of a "far left" activist.

Peggy Noonan, the former Reagan speechwriter writing in The Wall Street Journal in 2005, decried the continued suppression of "the Rosetta Stone of Hillary studies."

Just last month, an anonymous commentator lamented on the conservative Web site Free Republic, "She's a Marxist. Saul Alinsky's student. I sure wish we could unearth that sealed thesis of hers that she wrote at Wellesley."

No appointment is necessary for such spade work. A visitor to the Wellesley campus is buzzed in to the wood-paneled archives, but only after storing coat and briefcase in a locker outside. Pencils are allowed for note taking — no pens, which might mar the document. Readers can copy only a few pages.

The Wellesley archivist, Wilma R. Slaight, respectfully presents a photocopy of the typewritten manuscript in a black binder, cushioning it on green foam pads so as not to stress the leather.

"Democracy is still a radical idea" The confident young student took her thesis title — “There Is Only the Fight...” — from T.S. Eliot:

"There is only the fight to recover what has been lost and found and lost again and again."

She began with a feminist jab at the clichés of male authors: "Although I have no ‘loving wife’ to thank for keeping the children away while I wrote, I do have many friends and teachers who have contributed to the process of thesis-writing.” She thanks particularly “Mr. Alinsky for providing a topic, sharing his time and offering me a job.”

Hillary Diane Rodham already had covered a great deal of ideological territory when she sat down to assess Alinsky's tactics.

She grew up as a Goldwater Republican, like her father, in the middle-class Chicago suburb of Park Ridge. By the time she was a freshman at Wellesley, when she was elected president of the College Republicans, her concern with civil rights and the war in Vietnam put her closer to the moderate-liberal wing of the GOP led by Nelson Rockefeller. By her junior year, she had to be talked by her professor into taking an internship with Rep. Gerald R. Ford and the House Republican Caucus. In her senior year, she was campaigning for the anti-war Democrat Eugene McCarthy.

"I sometimes think that I didn't leave the Republican Party," she has written, "as much as it left me."

Elected president of the Wellesley student government, she worked closely with the administration to increase black enrollment, to relax rules on curfews for the Wellesley girls and to give students more freedom in choosing their courses.

Saul David Alinsky would have thought that tame stuff. The old Jewish radical was famous as a community organizer from Chicago's Back of the Yards, the home of stockyard workers made famous by Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle." From the late 1930s until his death in 1972, Alinsky crisscrossed the country, stirring the have-nots — poor whites and blacks — to demand power from the haves.

The hell-raiser's witty provocations were famous. One of his threatened “actions,” to unsettle the upper-crust audience at the Rochester symphony, was to have protesters buy 300 to 400 tickets, but first to gather for a big baked-bean dinner. He called the idea a "fart-in." It never happened, according to biographer Sanford D. Horwitt, though Alinsky loved to tell the story as if it had.

But Alinsky was no mere showman. He was a sometimes brutal seeker of power for others, schooling radicals with maxims such as "Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it and polarize it."

A Methodist field trip The teenage Rodham and the 60-year-old Alinsky met, of all places, on a Methodist church outing. Her youth minister, Don Jones, was introducing the youth of white, comfortable Park Ridge to social action. His "University of Life" took them to poor black and Hispanic churches, to hear Martin Luther King and to meet Alinsky.

When Rodham returned to Wellesley for her senior year and began scouting for a topic for her honors thesis, professor Schechter suggested she look up Alinsky again. She interviewed him in Chicago, in Boston and when he accepted her invitation to visit Wellesley.

Rodham opened the thesis by casting Alinsky as he cast himself, in a “peculiarly American” tradition of democrats, from Thomas Paine through Martin Luther King. “Democracy is still a radical idea,” she wrote, “in a world where we often confuse images with realities, words with actions.”

And yet, she continued, “Much of what Alinsky professes does not sound ‘radical.’ His are the words used in our schools and churches, by our parents and their friends, by our peers. The difference is that Alinsky really believes in them and recognizes the necessity of changing the present structures of our lives in order to realize them.”

Although some Clinton biographers have been quick to label Alinsky a communist, he maintained that he never joined the Communist Party. “I've never joined any organization — not even the ones I've organized myself,” he said in a 1972 interview with Playboy magazine . He said he was happy to work with anyone — the Roman Catholic Church, black Protestants, the communists — whoever would invite him into a neighborhood.

Looking back at the 1930s, he said, “Anybody who tells you he was active in progressive causes in those days and never worked with the Reds is a goddamn liar. Their platform stood for all the right things, and unlike many liberals, they were willing to put their bodies on the line.”

‘A man of exceptional charm’ Rodham’s thesis describes trying to pin him down on his personal philosophy: “Alinsky, cringing at the use of labels, ruefully admitted that he might be called an existentialist,” she wrote. Rodham tried to ask him about his moral relativism — particular ends, he said, often do justify the means — but Alinsky would only concede that “idealism can parallel self-interest.”

In her paper, she accepted Alinsky's view that the problem of the poor isn't so much a lack of money as a lack of power, as well as his view of federal anti-poverty programs as ineffective. (To Alinsky, the War on Poverty was a “prize piece of political pornography,” even though some of its funds flowed through his organizations.) “A cycle of dependency has been created,” she wrote, “which ensnares its victims into resignation and apathy.”

In formal academic language, Rodham offered a “perspective” or muted critique on Alinsky's methods, sometimes leaving unclear whether she was quoting his critics or stating her own opinion. She cited scholars who claimed that Alinsky's small gains actually delayed attainment of bigger goals for the poor and minorities.

In criticizing the “few material gains” that Alinsky engineered — such as pressing Kodak Co. to hire blacks in Rochester, or delaying the University of Chicago's expansion into the Woodlawn neighborhood — Rodham placed part of the blame on demography, the diminishing role of neighborhoods in American life. Another part she laid charitably to an Alinsky character trait: “One of the primary problems of the Alinsky model is that the removal of Alinsky dramatically alters its composition," she wrote. "Alinsky is a born organizer who is not easily duplicated, but, in addition to his skill, he is a man of exceptional charm."

‘The most radical of political faiths’ In the end, she judged that Alinsky's “power/conflict model is rendered inapplicable by existing social conflicts” — overriding national issues such as racial tension and segregation. Alinsky had no success in forming an effective national movement, she said, referring dismissively to “the anachronistic nature of small autonomous conflict.”

Putting Alinsky's Rochester symphony threat into academic language, Rodham found that the conflict approach to power is limited. “Alinsky's conclusion that the ‘ventilation’ of hostilities is healthy in certain situations is valid, but across-the-board ‘social catharsis’ cannot be prescribed,” she wrote.

She noted, however, that he was trying to broaden his reach: In 1969, Alinsky was developing an institute in Chicago at his Industrial Areas Foundation, aimed at training organizers to galvanize a surprising target: the middle class. That was the job he offered to Hillary Rodham.

Though some student activists of the 1960s may have idolized Alinsky, he didn't particularly idolize them. At the time Hillary Rodham brought him to Wellesley in January 1969 to speak at a private dinner for a dozen students, he was expressing dissatisfaction with New Left protesters such as the Students for a Democratic Society. One of his criticisms, surprisingly, was their tactical mistake of rejecting middle-class values.

Rodham closed her thesis by emphasizing that she reserved a place for Alinsky in the pantheon of social action — seated next to Martin Luther King, the poet-humanist Walt Whitman, and Eugene Debs, the labor leader now best remembered as the five-time Socialist Party candidate for president.

“In spite of his being featured in the Sunday New York Times," she wrote of Alinsky, "and living a comfortable, expenses-paid life, he considers himself a revolutionary. In a very important way he is. If the ideals Alinsky espouses were actualized, the result would be social revolution. Ironically, this is not a disjunctive projection if considered in the tradition of Western democratic theory. In the first chapter it was pointed out that Alinsky is regarded by many as the proponent of a dangerous socio/political philosophy. As such, he has been feared — just as Eugene Debs or Walt Whitman or Martin Luther King has been feared, because each embraced the most radical of political faiths — democracy.”

‘A fundamental disagreement’ Hillary Rodham (who wasn't the valedictorian of the Wellesley class of '69, no matter what Wikipedia has said since July 9, 2005 ) was indeed an honors student and received an A on the thesis after her oral defense of it that May, recalls professor Schechter, who was one of the three graders.

Later that month she became nationally known. Given the rare honor of offering a student speech at her Wellesley commencement, she startled the faculty and parents — and thrilled many of her classmates — with a rambling rebuke to the day's main speaker, the black Republican Sen. Edward Brooke of Massachusetts, who had criticized “coercive protest.” Hillary Rodham, who spoke up for the “indispensable task of criticizing and constructive protest,” got her picture in Life magazine.

Her options after graduation were attending law school at Harvard or Yale, traveling to India on a Fulbright scholarship, or taking the job with Alinsky's new training institute, which would have allowed her to live in Park Ridge with her parents, Hugh and Dorothy Rodham, and commute into Chicago.

“His offer of a place in the new institute was tempting,” she wrote in the end notes to the thesis, “but after spending a year trying to make sense out of his inconsistency, I need three years of legal rigor.” She enrolled at Yale that fall, a year ahead of a charming Rhodes Scholar from Arkansas.

“I agreed with some of Alinsky's ideas,” she explained in “Living History,” her 2003 biography, “particularly the value of empowering people to help themselves. But we had a fundamental disagreement. He believed you could change the system only from the outside. I didn't.”

A decade later, another political science major started out on the path that Hillary Rodham had rejected, going to work for a group in the Alinsky mold. That was Barack Obama, now a U.S. senator from Illinois and her leading opponent for the Democratic nomination. After attending Columbia University, he worked as an organizer on the South Side of Chicago for the Developing Communities Project. Obama and others of the post-Alinsky generation described their work in the 1990 book “After Alinsky: Community Organizing in Illinois,” in which Obama wrote that he longed for ways to close the gap between community organizing and national politics. After three years of organizing, he turned to Harvard Law School and then the Illinois legislature.

Hillary Rodham '69, student speaker, Commencement 1969

In a 1993 interview with The Washington Post, about the time the Clinton health care plan was being formulated and the thesis was being sealed, the first lady characterized her college writing as an argument against big government, supporting Alinsky's criticism of the War on Poverty programs. “I basically argued that he was right,” she told the newspaper. “Even at that early stage I was against all these people who come up with these big government programs that were more supportive of bureaucracies than actually helpful to people. You know, I've been on this kick for 25 years.”

As news organizations are beginning their "scrubbing" of the 2008 candidates, and campaigns are digging for every scrap to use to their advantage, there is disagreement on what value should be placed on youthful writings.

Must Wellesley’s 2007 seniors scour their term papers on global warming for phrases that could derail their presidential ambitions in the year 2046?

hillary clinton master's thesis

“It's a moronic statement,” said Hillary Rodham's thesis adviser, Alan Schechter, now an emeritus professor at Wellesley, as well as a friend and campaign contributor to Sen. Clinton.

“The notion that a 21-year-old idealist somehow remains a 21-year-old idealist their whole life — she's not a radical at all. I think she's very mainstream. She's a pragmatist. She's a much more thoughtful, cautious, careful, pragmatic person — she's been burned so often.”

The makings of a campaign ad? That doesn't mean, said the professor of political science, that we won't see an Alinsky-Clinton attack ad. One can envision black-and-white photos of Hillary Clinton and Saul Alinsky, wearing remarkably similar Coke-bottle glasses, while the words scroll by: "radical ... socialist? ... exceptional charm ... sealed in the archives...."

But at its heart, her mentor says, the Alinsky-socialist-Rodham connection is a falsehood. "My conclusion, she was already thinking in terms of practical politics, what works, what doesn't, more than on ideology," Schechter said. "She wouldn't have paid any attention to whether Alinsky was a Marxist.”

hillary clinton master's thesis

Lacivita co-produced the "Swift Boat" ads in the 2004 presidential race questioning Democratic Sen. John Kerry’s Vietnam service. He told that no fact from a candidate's life is too old for negative advertising.

"I think the last election cycle proved that there's no statute of limitations," said the Republican political consultant. "What someone did or said 35 years ago is certainly fair game, especially if you're running for president of the United States.

"I have not read her research paper. Though I can assure you that I will very soon," Lacivita added with a laugh.

He began to brainstorm what such an ad might look like:

"You have to make it relevant to world events today.

"Maybe you look at the contrast. What year did Hillary write this paper? 1969.

"And where was John McCain in 1969? A POW in Vietnam."

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Read Hillary Clinton's 1971 letter to Saul Alinsky

A letter from Hillary Clinton to the late community organizer Saul Alinsky in 1971 was published Sunday by the Washington Free Beacon .

In it, Clinton, then a 23-year-old law school graduate living in Berkeley, Calif., informs the Chicago activist that she had “survived law school, slightly bruised, with my belief in and zest for organizing intact.”

“The more I’ve seen of places like Yale Law School and the people who haunt them," Clinton wrote, "the more convinced I am that we have the serious business and joy of much work ahead, — if the commitment to a free and open society is ever going to mean more than eloquence and frustration."

Clinton first met Alinsky when she was at Wellesley working on her 1969 thesis on his controversial theories on community organizing , many of which were outlined in his 1946 handbook, "Reveille for Radicals."

In the book, Alinsky encouraged community organizers to "fan the latent hostilities" of low-income, inner city residents and "search out controversy and issues, rather than avoid them." His 1971 book, "Rules for Radicals," published a year before his death, expanded on that theme. "Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it," Alinsky wrote.

“Dear Saul,” Clinton wrote in the 1971 letter. "When is that new book [Rules for Radicals] coming out — or has it come and I somehow missed the fulfillment of Revelation? I have just had my one-thousandth conversation about Reveille and need some new material to throw at people."

She thanked Alinsky for the advice he gave her about campus organizing.

“If I never thanked you for the encouraging words of last spring in the midst of the Yale-Cambodia madness, I do so now,” Clinton wrote.

She also asked if they could meet the next time he was in California.

“I am living in Berkeley and working in Oakland for the summer and would love to see you,” Clinton wrote. “Let me know if there is any chance of our getting together.”

She added: "Hopefully we can have a good argument sometime in the future."

Alinsky's longtime secretary, Georgia Harper, sent Clinton a letter in reply informing her that he was away on a six-week trip to Southeast Asia, but that she had opened the letter anyway.

“Since I know his feelings about you I took the liberty of opening your letter because I didn’t want something urgent to wait for two weeks,” Harper wrote in the July 13, 1971, letter. “And I’m glad I did.”

“Mr. Alinsky will be in San Francisco, staying at the Hilton Inn at the airport on Monday and Tuesday, July 26 and 27,” Harper added. “I know he would like to have you call him so that if there is a chance in his schedule maybe you can get together.”

The correspondence between Alinsky and Clinton was discovered in the archives for the Industrial Areas Foundation — a training center for community organizers founded by Alinsky — housed at the University of Texas at Austin.

According to Clinton's 2004 memoir, "Living History," Alinsky had offered her a job after her graduation from Wellesley, but she turned him down.

“He offered me the chance to work with him when I graduated from college, and he was disappointed that I decided instead to go to law school,” she wrote. “[He] said I would be wasting my time, but my decision was an expression of my belief that the system could be changed from within.”

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Hillary Clinton, Saul Alinsky and Lucifer, explained

This post has been updated with details about how Clinton decided to write a thesis about Saul Alinsky.

Saul Alinsky and Lucifer made appearances at the Republican National Convention on Tuesday night.

It's not clear who was supposed to be scarier.

In his prime-time speech, Ben Carson offered his own case against Hillary Clinton. It had a lot to do with tying her to Alinsky — and, by extension, the devil. Here's what he said:

Now, one of the things that I have learned about Hillary Clinton is that one of her heroes, her mentors was Saul Alinsky. And her senior thesis was about Saul Alinsky. This was someone that she greatly admired and that affected all of her philosophies subsequently. Now, interestingly enough, let me tell you something about Saul Alinsky. He wrote a book called, "Rules for Radicals." On the dedication page it acknowledges Lucifer, the original radical who gained his own kingdom. ... This is a nation where every coin in our pocket, and every bill in our wallet says, "In God We Trust." So, are we willing to elect someone as president who has as their role model somebody who acknowledges Lucifer? Think about that.

This isn't quite Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, but it's the same concept. Clinton is bad, Carson argues, because one of "her heroes, her mentors" is Alinsky — a man who "acknowledges Lucifer."

There's a lot to unpack here. First, it is true that, in the front of his book, Alinsky does acknowledge Lucifer  in what could be read as a positive way:

Lest we forget at least an over-the-shoulder acknowledgment 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.

The paragraph is directly attributed to Alinsky. Carson's implication seems to be that Alinsky speaks favorably about the devil and that makes him toxic for Clinton.

Alinsky was a self-described radical, and this is indeed a provocative statement. It also appears to be something of a one-off; while Alinsky's book is all about "Rules for Radicals," he does not go on to further discuss this particular radical — Lucifer — and the example he might provide for other radicals.

Alinsky did offer other provocative comments that have led to of accusations of sympathy for the devil, so to speak. In a 1972 Playboy interview, he said that while he identifies as Jewish, he would choose to go to Hell. "Hell would be heaven for me," because it was full of "have-nots," he said. "They're my kind of people."

These passages form the basis for accusations that Alinsky was pro-Lucifer or even satanic.

But then we get to the next logical step Carson asks us to take — tying Clinton tightly to Alinsky.

If this all sounds familiar, it's because four years ago, it was the other recent Democratic presidential nominee, Barack Obama, who was getting this treatment. Newt Gingrich during his 2012 campaign was fond of referring to Obama as a " Saul Alinsky radical ." (Click that link if you still don't know who Alinsky is.) Back in 2008, Rudy Giuliani did it too .

Tying Clinton to Alinsky is pretty easy; she wrote her undergraduate thesis at Wellesley College about him and even interviewed him.

As the New York Times's Mark Leibovich explained after reviewing the thesis in 2007:

Ms. Rodham endorsed Mr. Alinsky’s central critique of government antipoverty programs — that they tended to be too top-down and removed from the wishes of individuals. But the student leader split with Mr. Alinsky over a central point. He vowed to ‘rub raw the sores of discontent’ and compel action through agitation. This, she believed, ran counter to the notion of change within the system.

Carson describes Alinsky as one of Clinton's "heroes" and "mentors." Those terms are highly debatable, but Clinton was close enough to Alinsky that, in her 2003 book, "Living History," she mentioned turning down the offer to work with him after college.

I agreed with some of Alinsky's ideas, particularly the value of empowering people to help themselves. But we had a fundamental disagreement. He believed you could change the system only from the outside. I didn't. Later, he offered me the chance to work with him when I graduated from college, and he was disappointed that I decided instead to go to law school. Alinsky said I would be wasting my time, but my decision was an expression of my belief that the system could be changed from within.

Clinton also brought Alinsky to Wellesley in 1969 to deliver a speech. And in her thesis, she refers to his "compelling personality" and “his exceptional charm," according the NBC's Bill Dedman , who also read the thesis in 2007.

But there's little evidence that Clinton was particularly close to the man. And indeed, her decision to write a thesis involving Alinsky wasn't her idea, her thesis adviser recently told The Washington Post.

Alan Schechter, who is now an emeritus professor at Wellesley in addition to a donor who has also campaigned for Clinton, was a professor of political science, just 10 years older than Clinton and her classmates, with an open-door office policy that students would regularly take advantage of.

Schechter, who said he viewed one of his functions as taking a students' inchoate ideas and helping them craft a researchable project, said he advised Clinton to make a comparison between a top-down government anti-poverty approach and a bottom-up model and focus it in Chicago, where Alinsky, whom she had met the previous year, was working on grass-roots organization.

He said Clinton approached it pragmatically and not from a pro-Alinsky perspective.

"The thesis was entirely pragmatic," Schechter said. "Its conclusions were extremely pragmatic -- 'This doesn't work,' 'that doesn't work,' 'this has the only hope of partial benefit.'"

He recalled her telling him the following spring that Alinsky had offered her a job, but she had concluded, he said, that his method wouldn’t have a major impact on poverty and that it would lose its impact on the political leaders of the community.

She had come to see Alinsky as a well-meaning rabble-rouser, Schechter argued.

Which brings us back to Carson. This is Political Attack 101 — finding an associate of your opponent who has done objectionable or controversial things and tying your opponent as closely to them and their deeds as possible. For Obama, it was Bill Ayers and Jeremiah Wright.

The implication is that your opponent believes these same controversial things and is guilty by association.

It remains to be seen whether Alinsky and even Lucifer will be a significant part of the Republican- and Donald Trump-led case made against Clinton moving forward. Carson has a tendency to make analogies and say things that other Republicans won't.

In this campaign, it's hard to rule anything out.

Frances Stead Sellers contributed to this post.

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hillary clinton master's thesis

The devil’s in the details: Clinton’s almost half-century-old college paper on the “radical” Chicago community organizer has ideas that resonate with current GOP philosophy.

hillary clinton master's thesis

Last night at the Republican National Convention, neurosurgeon and former candidate Ben Carson stole the spotlight by connecting Hillary Clinton to Lucifer. Clinton wrote her senior college thesis on the legendary Chicago organizer Saul Alinsky, and Alinsky, in his book Rules for Radicals , gave an arch dedication of sorts:

Lest we forget at least an over-the-shoulder acknowledgment 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.

Lol. But it was enough thread for Carson to hang the question, "So are we willing to elect someone as president who has as their role model somebody who acknowledges Lucifer?"

Alinsky, a product of Chicago's slums and the University of Chicago, who gave up a promising career as a criminologist to become a community organizer, has been a chew toy for the GOP since the current Chicago community organizer in the White House ran for office. Conveniently for them, Clinton might be a Park Ridge suburbanite who went east to Wellesley—where she was converted from a moderate Republican to a Democrat by Nixon's southern strategy—but she fell under Alinsky's spell, writing her thorough and quite readable thesis with his participation.

And… a lot of it reads like a moderate Republican, daughter of a small-business owner from a prosperous suburb, finding surprising common ground with someone then and now considered to be a threat to the republic.

Take, for instance, how Clinton treats Alinsky's skepticism of government anti-poverty programs:

The sense of dignity is particularly crucial in organizational activity among the poor whom Alinsky warns to beware of programs which attack only their economic poverty. Welfare programs since the New Deal have neither redeveloped poverty areas nor even catalyzed the poor into helping themselves. A cycles of dependency has been created which ensnares its victims into resignation and apathy. To dramatize his warning to the poor, Alinsky proposed sending Negroes dressed in African tribal costumes to greet VISTA volunteers arriving in Chicago. This action would have dramatized what he refers to as the "colonialism" and the "Peace Corps mentality" of the poverty programs. Alinsky is interested in people helping themselves without the ineffective interference from welfarephiles.

Welfare as creating dependence, check; poking fun at naive do-gooder big-government liberals, check; what's not to like?

Clinton then quotes Charles Silberman, from his book Crisis in Black and White : "The essential difference between Alinsky and his enemies is that Alinsky really believes in democracy; he really believes that the helpless, the poor, the badly-educated can solve their own problems if given the chance and the means… [they should] have the right to decide how their lives should be run and what services should be offered to them instead of being ministered to like children."

Alinsky made powerful enemies with his attacks on the welfare state, going after the Office of Economic Opportunities for what he viewed as generous salaries and waste, calling the War on Poverty "a prize piece of political pornography… a huge political pork barrel, and a feeding trough for the welfare industry." When the OEO's director, Sargent Shriver, said that Lyndon Johnson's efforts had "done more for the Negro in 25 months than Alinsky has in 25 years," Alinsky pointedly responded that "we've never done anything for Negroes; we've worked with them."

If anything, what conservatives might find chilling about Clinton's thesis is her skepticism of Alinsky's model. While generally impressed with the idealism of Alinsky's radically small-"d" democratic approach, she thought some places could not achieve the necessary critical mass to begin the process. "Alinsky's prescription for the poor was to motivate the powerless to acquire the necessary skills and knowledge to to control their own affairs," Clinton writes. "Often the application of the Alinsky model in geographically bound lower-class areas assumes an almost bootstrap formula which is too conservative for our present situation."

Alinsky was emphatic about that necessity. "A community which can first organize to achieve financial independence has already begun to fight," Clinton writes. In the Back of the Yards, that included the organization of a credit union. He actually refused to help a coalition of clergy in Woodlawn until they could put cold hard cash to their ideals; when they raised $27,000—over $200,000 in 2016 dollars—he agreed to help them organize what would become The Woodlawn Organization. No form of self-improvement was too small; Clinton emphasizes how the Back of the Yards Council so emphatically pressed the "basic facts of nutrition" at union meetings, schools, and churches that "no resident could move through his neighborhood without being reminded to drink his orange juice."

So what did Alinsky see as the most powerful motivating force to get people to solve their own problems? "The concept of social equality is a part of Alinsky's social morality that assumes all individuals and nations act first to preserve their own self interests and then rationalize any action as idealistic," Clinton writes. "Alinsky claims a position of moral relativism, but his moral context is stabilized by a belief in the eventual manifestation of the goodness of men."

When it worked, Alinsky's tactics produced something resembling an idealistic conservatism:

The [Back of the Yards] Council's ability to fulfill most of the residential needs has locked the neighborhood down so that few residents ever leave. One criticism of the Alinsky method is that such strong community organizations tend to "nail down" a neighborhood, retarding social and political development.

You mean standing athwart history yelling "stop"? Not seeing what's radical here. Except maybe for this:

The collective manifestation of such retardation is reactionary, segregationist politics. Alinsky recognized such tendencies in the Autumn of 1968 when he walked through the neighborhood seeing Wallace posters and "White Power" slogans on fences and car bumpers.

In other words, one danger of Alinsky's tactics is excessive conservatism mutating into reactionary ethnocentrism. His solution to this was, again, self-interest, which he used to unite the various ethnic factions he found in Back of the Yards.

What made Alinsky a radical for young Hillary Clinton was not a fear that he would introduce alien, anti-democratic ideas into America, but that Alinsky took American democratic ideals farther than most of us. "His are the words used in our schools and churches, by our parents and friends, by our peers," Clinton writes. "The difference is that Alinsky really believes in them and recognizes the necessity of changing the present structures of our lives in order to realize them."

There are aspects of Alinsky's work no current Republican will come around on, like his unionizing. But viewed that way, the party who's been running against him for almost a decade might have reason to have a little sympathy for the devil.

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Home » Hot off the Press » The Hillary-Alinsky-Lucifer Connection

hillary clinton master's thesis

I n his speech at the Republican convention last week, Ben Carson made a statement that raised some eyebrows. “Now, one of the things that I have learned about Hillary Clinton is that one of her heroes, her mentors, was Saul Alinsky,” said Carson . “And her senior thesis was about Saul Alinsky. This was someone she greatly admired….”

So far so good. Nothing most political junkies haven’t heard before.

“And let me tell you something about Saul Alinsky,” continued Carson. “He wrote a book called Rules for Radicals . It acknowledges Lucifer, the original radical who gained his own kingdom. Now think about that.”

That certainly got a lot of people thinking.

“This is our nation where our founding document, the Declaration of Independence, talks about certain inalienable rights that come from our Creator, a nation where our Pledge of Allegiance says we are ‘One nation under God,’” added Carson. “This is a nation where every coin in our pockets and every bill in our wallet says, ‘In God We Trust.’ So are we willing to elect someone as president who has as their role model somebody who acknowledges Lucifer? Think about that.”

In response, the liberal media predictably went bonkers.

“Ben Carson rails against Hillary Clinton, Lucifer,” howled the headline in USA Today .

“Ben Carson Ties Hillary Clinton to Lucifer as GOP Swaps Campaign for Witch Trial,” scowled the Daily Beast .

“She’s one-degree of separation from a devil-lover!” wailed the Daily Mail .

I must say that I shouldn’t be too critical of the liberal media’s apoplectic reaction, because I was likewise incredulous the first time I heard this claim.

It was 2007, and I was finishing a book on the faith of Hillary Clinton . One morning I heard a local radio talk-show host make an amazing claim: that Alinsky’s 1971 classic Rules for Radicals began with a dedication to Satan. Oh, I can’t believe that , I said. I was angry at the host. This kind of hyperbole gives conservative talk-radio a bad name!

And yet, it couldn’t be hard to check. I had better do so as author of a biography of Hillary Clinton in which I had a section on Hillary and Saul Alinsky. As part of the promotion for the book, I would likely appear on this same talk-show, and the host surely would ask me about the Lucifer acknowledgment.

I quickly emailed one of the staffers at our library at Grove City College. Did we have a copy of Rules for Radicals on our shelves? We sure did. Please pull it , I said. I’ll be right there .

I opened the book and couldn’t believe my eyes. Alinsky offered this acknowledgment:

Lest we forget at least an over-the-shoulder acknowledgment to the very first radical: from all our legends, mythology, and history… 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.

Yes, there it was. Saul Alinsky commenced his magnum opus — the one for which he is hailed by the left, a book not only read by Hillary Clinton but used as a text by Barack Obama as a teacher of community organizing — with an acknowledgement of the Devil.

Like Ben Carson, the reaction I’ve had when pointing this out to liberals has been one of hysterical disbelief. And if I’m able to get them to look at what Alinsky wrote, they retreat to handy excuses. “Oh, that was tongue-in-cheek,” one liberal confidently told me.

Really? I asked her. How did she know that? She didn’t.

Now, a crucial clarification: I don’t think it’s technically accurate to say that Rules for Radicals is “dedicated” to Lucifer, as is often claimed by Alinsky’s detractors. (It’s also hard to criticize them for making that assumption.) Looking at the book carefully, it appears to be dedicated to one person: There is a page that says simply “To Irene,” and nothing else. On the page prior to the Irene dedication is a list of “Personal Acknowledgements,” where Alinsky lists four friends: Jason Epstein, Cicely Nichols, Susan Rabiner, and Georgia Harper. Following the Irene page is another page, the controversial one, in which Alinsky offers three quotes, the first from a Rabbi Hillel, the second from Thomas Paine, and the third from Alinsky himself, giving his nod to Lucifer. One well-known fact-checker source ( Snopes ) describes this as “three epigraphs on an introductory page.” I suppose that’s an acceptable way to characterize it. And the third of the three is an “epigraph” (if you will) to Satan.

But we shouldn’t let Alinsky off the Lucifer hook so easily.

Alinsky, for one, was asked about the Lucifer acknowledgment in his March 1972 interview with Playboy magazine near the end of his life, a swan-song that every Alinsky aficionado knows about. Here’s the exchange, which came at the very end of the interview, with Playboy apparently judging it a fittingly provocative close to the extremely lengthy interview:

PLAYBOY: Having accepted your own mortality, do you believe in any kind of afterlife? ALINSKY: Sometimes it seems to me that the question people should ask is not “Is there life after death?” but “Is there life after birth?” I don’t know whether there’s anything after this or not. I haven’t seen the evidence one way or the other and I don’t think anybody else has either. But I do know that man’s obsession with the question comes out of his stubborn refusal to face up to his own mortality. Let’s say that if there is an afterlife, and I have anything to say about it, I will unreservedly choose to go to hell. PLAYBOY: Why? ALINSKY: Hell would be heaven for me. All my life I’ve been with the have-nots. Over here, if you’re a have-not, you’re short of dough. If you’re a have-not in hell, you’re short of virtue. Once I get into hell, I’ll start organizing the have-nots over there. PLAYBOY: Why them? ALINSKY: They’re my kind of people.

“They’re my kind of people ,” said Alinsky. “ Hell would be heaven for me. ”

Tongue-in-cheek again? Yuk, yuk, yuk. Hilarious, just hilarious.

For the record, when I googled the Alinsky- Playboy interview this week I found the aforementioned excerpt posted at (among other places) a Satanist website . There, the author, in an article titled, “Saul D. Alinsky: A role model for left-wing Satanists,” writes of the exchange: “I’m not sure whether Alinsky really was a Satanist/Luciferian of some sort or whether he was just joking. He may well have been just joking.”

Maybe. Pretty funny, eh?

When fact-checking Ben Carson’s statement on this, PolitiFact added this caveat : “The rest of the book [ Rules for Radicals ] includes no real discussion of Lucifer or Satan, though it does talk about the way people demonize political opponents so that others see their opponents as ‘devils.’”

Indeed it does. And that isn’t particularly amusing either. One of Alinsky’s most infamous rules is to isolate the target and, in effect, demonize it. (The talk-show host I mentioned also used the word “demonize.”) This was the thrust of Alinsky’s final and most egregious rule for radicals (no. 13): “ Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.”  He advised cutting off the support network of the person and isolating the person from sympathy. He cruelly urged going after people rather than institutions because people hurt faster than institutions.

Get out the torch, dear tolerant progressive, rain hellfire on thy enemy!

To be sure, Rules for Radicals sometimes gives mixed signals to many Christians. The book is interspersed with a sprinkling of Biblical/church references (some neutral, some not) beyond its hefty radical politics and juvenile profanity. My Grove City College colleague Lee Wishing interprets this as Alinsky’s method of trying to reach the younger ’60s generation. “He wanted to give them meaning,” says Wishing. It was as if Alinsky had penned the radical’s version of a purpose-driven life. On the last page of Alinsky’s manual, the godfather of community organizing imparts his wisdom on his army of organizers: “The human cry… is one for a meaning, a purpose for life — a cause to live for and if need be die for…. This is literally the revolution of the soul.” Alinsky said that the young “are searching for an answer, at least for a time, to man’s greatest question, ‘Why am I here?’” In short, observes Wishing, Alinsky was telling his followers to find life’s meaning and salvation in a “conflict-based community organizing” (Wishing’s description).

Wishing’s take is that Alinsky was actually a “metaphysical rebel, a spiritual man who, whether he realizes it or not, was trying to address man’s fallen nature.” Thus, Alinsky gets his opening acknowledgment (to Lucifer) wrong. Says Wishing: “ Jesus is the kingdom winner, the real revolutionary…. The fatal flaw of Alinsky’s book is literally the fatal flaw of mankind: failure to recognize that Jesus has defeated Satan and, that although this world is fallen, our hope is in Him — following Him faithfully, the True Radical, not Satan.”

Wishing’s take is insightful, and also charitable to Alinsky.

That said, Rules for Radicals is not a charitable book. Any Scripture references are deep-sixed by far more frequently used words like target, weapon, threat, pressure, tactic, revolution, rebellion, enemy, the devil (albeit not in a Satan-worshipping way), and, most of all, attack, attack, and attack . It’s damned sure not an epistle of forgiveness and grace. This isn’t the Peace Prayer of St. Francis.

What Alinsky advised, no matter how many Biblical quotations he sprinkled it with, certainly wasn’t the Christian gospel.

Speaking of which, and bringing this back to Hillary Clinton, it’s thus very ironic how Hillary Clinton met Saul Alinsky. Ben Carson would not know this, nor would most fact-checkers and Hillary fans.

A young Hillary Rodham was first introduced to Alinsky in Chicago by the Rev. Don Jones, the liberal “social justice” Methodist youth minister who was a mentor to her in the early 1960s in Park Ridge, Illinois at Park Ridge United Methodist Church. He’s the one who started tugging Hillary to the left and away from her father’s “Goldwater Girl” roots. Hillary would later describe Alinsky as a “great seducer” of young minds, as did Jones, which was apparently the reason that Jones brought his wide-eyed teens to meet with the radical whose politics Jones liked. Jones succeeded. Hillary was taken in.

The Rev. Jones’s point in bringing the youngsters to Alinsky could not have been religious, since Alinsky was a well-known and committed agnostic who proudly declared his “independence” from any affiliation, including Christianity. The youth minister’s goal was social-political. Like Jones, Alinsky was dedicated to advancing the interests of the Proletariat, or what Alinsky called the “Have-Nots.”

For Hillary, that first encounter was just the beginning.

Hillary Rodham headed off to the Northeast for college, where her conservative father paid handsomely for her left-wing indoctrination. In 1968, Hillary wrote her undergraduate thesis at Wellesley on — of all subjects — Saul Alinsky and his tactics. She quite literally studied Alinsky, and not merely distantly from the pages of a book.

At Wellesley, Hillary sought out Alinsky. She was thinking about her place in the world. She envisioned greater things, and thus decided that she needed more than a bachelor’s degree — namely, a degree in law. She shared that opinion with no less than Saul Alinsky himself, directly asking his advice. And her outreach paid dividends. Quite remarkably, the veteran radical offered Hillary a job in the spring of 1969 as a community organizer. He also that year re-released his classic manifesto, Reveille for Radicals , updated with a new introduction and afterword.

Hillary decided against the job, informing Alinsky that she felt law school was the better choice for the moment. She told Alinsky that she saw a “real opportunity” at Yale Law.

Alas, these are things we’ve known about Hillary and Alinsky for a while now, as reported by biographers (myself included) and with a few details by Hillary herself, though she has been very tightlipped. In her 2003 book, Living History , Hillary mentioned Alinsky, but only surrendered one paragraph, keeping a political safe-distance as she sought elected office. But what she said in that one paragraph is telling. “We had a fundamental disagreement,” she wrote. “He [Alinsky] believed you could change the system only from the outside. I didn’t.”

Correct. Hillary is changing it from the inside.

In September 2014, however, came somewhat of a biographical game-changer, a small but meaningful revelation in our knowledge of Hillary and Alinsky, one that the fact-checkers still haven’t caught up to. The Washington Free Beacon obtained two previous Hillary-Alinsky letters that hadn’t been published before. Here was the context:

It was July 1971, and Hillary Rodham was interning in the law offices of communist rabble-rousers Robert Treuhaft and his British-born wife Jessica “Decca” Mitford, the one-time muckraking journalist. Treuhaft and Mitford had married in 1943, several years after Mitford’s previous husband died fighting for the Soviet Comintern in the Spanish Civil War. They eventually moved to San Francisco and lived near Saul Alinsky. Both Treuhaft and Mitford had joined Communist Party USA, and for many years were denied passports and investigated by government officials.

Yes, this was Hillary’s big internship — working for two notorious Bay Area communists. Her father must have been appalled. Saul Alinsky, a self-described democratic socialist who proudly admitted working with communists, must have been pleased. (“Anybody who tells you he was active in progressive causes and never worked with the Reds is a goddamn liar,” Alinsky once said.)

And so, on July 8, 1971, Clinton reached out to the aging Alinsky in a letter she marked “Personal” and sent via airmail adorned by two stamps with the face of Franklin Roosevelt. “Dear Saul,” she began warmly, on a first-name basis. “When is that new book coming out — or has it come and I somehow missed the fulfillment of Revelation?”

The new book of Revelation that Hillary was excited about was Rules for Radicals . Hillary told Alinsky that she had just had her “one-thousandth conversation about  Reveille” (his other classic) and “need some new material to throw at people.” She was hopeful that Rules for Radicals would be providing that material.

She also informed the father of community organizing that she (Obama-like) was pumped up to do some community organizing, telling him that she had “survived law school, slightly bruised, with my belief in and zest for organizing intact.”

The letter says more, including the intriguing disclosure that Clinton and Alinsky had kept in touch regularly since she entered Yale Law School. “If I never thanked you for the encouraging words of last spring in the midst of the Yale-Cambodia madness, I do so now,” said Clinton. She told Alinsky, “I miss our biennial conversations,” and asked him, “Do you ever make it out to California?”

The future Democratic Party presidential nominee wanted to see Alinsky. “I am living in Berkeley and working in Oakland for the summer and would love to see you,” Clinton wrote. “Let me know if there is any chance of our getting together.”

Alinsky, it turns out, happened to be on a trip to Southeast Asia at the time, where America was mired in war. But that did not stop Alinsky’s secretary from opening the letter and responding to Hillary on his behalf. Why would the secretary take that liberty? Because, she explained to Hillary: “Since I know [Saul’s] feelings about you I took the liberty of opening your letter because I didn’t want something urgent to wait for two weeks,” the secretary, Georgia Harper, wrote back to Clinton on July 13. “And I’m glad I did.”

She informed Hillary that Saul’s new book, titled Rules for Radicals , had just been released. She included several copies of reviews of the book.

Harper also informed Hillary that Alinsky was indeed coming to San Francisco. He would be “staying at the Hilton Inn at the airport on Monday and Tuesday, July 26 and 27. I know he would like to have you call him so that if there is a chance in his schedule maybe you can get together.” She suggested Hillary call first thing Monday morning.

Did Hillary call? Did she and Saul get together in San Francisco? She has never told us. It’s hard to imagine they didn’t. What was that meeting like, if it occurred? Did Saul hand her a copy of the book she wrote to him about, Rules for Radicals , maybe with an inscription to Hillary on the dedication page, or acknowledgments page?

Dare we ask? I don’t know that anyone has, or has recorded Hillary’s answer.

Nonetheless, this much we can certainly say: Saul Alinsky clearly had an influence on the future Democratic nominee for president.

And further, we must add that Alinsky’s influence was not only on the current Democratic nominee. He impacted the previous nominee as well. As noted, a young man named Barack Obama would read and teach Alinsky’s tactics during his community-organizing days in Chicago — Saul’s haunting grounds.

Alinsky’s influence on the Democratic Party today is so pronounced that his son, David, boasted eight years ago that the “Democratic campaign in 2008… is a fine tribute to Saul Alinsky.” He beamed: “the Democratic National Convention had all the elements of the perfectly organized event, Saul Alinsky style.”

The 2016 Democratic National Convention likewise will owe something to Saul Alinsky. Hillary and crew may not give an open acknowledgment to Lucifer, but they ought to give an admiring nod to the lingering presence of Saul Alinsky.


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Hillary Clinton's Senior Thesis about Radical Activist Saul Alinsky.

By Donna Schaper with Rake Morgan and Frank Marafiote contributing.

Edited by Frank Marafiote for the Internet.

(To read a PDF copy of the thesis, click here.)

With Hillary Clinton poised to win the Democratic nomination for president, questions about her intellectual and moral education abound. One of the major intellectual influences � perhaps an emotional one was well � was radical social philosopher and activist Saul Alinsky. As this story shows, Alinsky was both the ladder Hillary climbed to gain new perspectives on society � specifically the poor � and then, once there, a ladder she tossed aside when she no longer needed it.

Americans who graduated from high school in 1965 and college in 1969 were not just part of a population bubble � the �baby boomers� � but a cultural one as well. The children of the Sixties combined the typical young adult developmental cycle with a unique cycle in the life of this nation. They were not only trying to learn about dating, but also about foreign policy, ethics, and racism.

As we search for social influences on the First Lady, we have to begin in this context, in the unique mix of the public and private that served as her environment as a young woman. She was as marked by her chronological age and the Age of Aquarius as most Sixties people were � and she is probably where she is today because she was even more influenced by it than the rest of us.

It is no accident that she chose to write about Saul Alinsky for her senior thesis at Wellesley College . As a social activist, Alinsky was as much a part of the Sixties as was Kennedy and King. He was in the background creating the foreground of interpretation:

�Power to the people� is a phrase coined by him as much as by Stokeley Carmichael. Like the headband, Hillary abandoned much of what influenced her back then. But still this heavy identification with her age and THE age continued in bold form right after she completed her senior thesis.

That people stood to applaud Hillary Clinton�s commencement speech � the first one given by a student at Wellesley � is another mark of her generation that she wears in her psyche. It had to matter to her that the classes before 1960 remained in their seats, not quite sure of what had just happened. Classes before 1930 didn�t even clap. From �60 on people were on their feet clapping.

This literal order of approval is important to our understanding of Hillary Clinton. And surely it is one of the reasons she�s shifted from her Sixties image to a more up-to-date one. She learned early on that people interpret things by their age. No one needs the tag of the Sixties any more. Her repudiation of the tag is one of the reasons that Wellesley College , at her request, does not release her senior thesis to the public. She doesn�t want to be identified with Alinsky or the Sixties any more than is absolutely necessary. Hillary is socially and personally based in the Sixties, not in its cultural but in its political dimension.

Probably because she had enough ballast psychologically and religiously from her family and church, she did not �drug out� during the Sixties. She was not one of the period�s casualties. But most Americans, including the younger ones, don�t understand this distinction yet about the Sixties. Say Sixties, and people today think, �drugged out.� Say Sixties, they think unshowered. Perpetual bad hair days. Hillary can�t afford the negative image of the Sixties. Thus she needed to leave as much of the Sixties behind her as possible. This repudiation of the Sixties began early in her life.

It�s the confusion in the public�s mind � not hers � that accounts for the distance she�s put between herself and her formative period. Alinsky�s thought has been badgered at the image level since the sixties. Say Alinsky and people think radical, that American word that now has a bad reputation.

Alinsky thought of himself as a radical in the tradition of Thomas Jefferson, John Dewey, Thomas Payne. He personified the American theory of pragmatism in his commitment to power. �Whatever works to get power to the people, use it.� That didn�t mean violence but rather serious attention to matters of power. Pact the meeting. Fill the streets. Flood the office with post cards. If that doesn�t work, find something that does, including humor.

At one point to gain attention from the Chicago city council, Alinsky threatened to flush all the toilets at O�Hare airport at once. Before the toilet flushing escapade ever had a chance to happen, the city council gave in and granted some demands. Another time, in Rochester , New York , Alinsky had a fart-in at the Eastman Kodak Board meeting. A baked bean supper had been organized for participants. Alinsky was irreverent, but that was his only real bow in the counter-cultural direction. Hillary acquired Alinsky�s pragmatism and his focus on strategy more than the humor and irreverence as a source for her own politics.

Hillary met Alinsky through the pastor at her high school church, the Park Ridge Methodist Church . Rev. Don Jones, then youth minister at the parish and running a youth program called � University of Life ,� took his youth group to Chicago to meet not only Alinsky but also King and many of the other leaders of the Civil Rights movement.

To understand how Hillary developed her skills as an activist we have to first understand her religious back ground. One of 110 young people confirmed at the church at age 11, she had an unusually rigorous religious preparation. It was public instead of personal. That simple shift in perspective was the key foundation for her, as a Goldwater activist throughout high school and the daughter of a Republican. It allowed her to have an open heart to the suffering she saw in Chicago . Very few youth groups traveled as far as the South Side of Chicago to find God or religious formation.

Hillary acquired Alinsky �S pragmatism and his focus on strategy more than the humor and irreverence as a source for her own politics.

That she did, under the auspices of Rev. Jones, made not only the introduction to Alinsky possible, it also meant that she could hear firsthand what he had to say in a context that probably spoke louder than his words.

The poverty she saw in Chicago surely became part of the source of this person who is now running for president. Alinsky interpreted poverty with one point of view � that it is due to the lack of power of the poor. Hillary probably doesn�t believe that as much as a less sinister interpretation � that the poor are poor because of bad government policies. This tension became the tension of her senior thesis, the tension of her genuine suffering about the poor, and probably will remain the tension of her life.

In a sense, she�s still in a conversation with Alinsky, who believed that the poor could be organized on their own behalf. Hillary Clinton still seems to believe that the middle classes can do things to make life easier for the poor, and that is the lever she pulls most often. Her decision about the best way to create change ultimately led her down a path that made her a senator; had she made the other decision � to organize the poor � she would not be in government, but rather in that place where she learned so much � the �streets.�

Religion moderated the decisions she made, particularly since it was based in the suburban world of Park Ridge . Alinsky himself was not a religious man, though he depended heavily on organized religious constituencies. In Sanford Horwitt�s biography of Alinsky, Let Them Call Me A Rebel , Horwitt suggests that at many different levels Alinsky �used� religious constituencies like the Park Ridge church to legitimize serious political action. In this way, Hillary � even as a girl � was used by the movement. She added her consent later.

Alinsky�s manipulation of both the poor and the church is the most often repeated accusation against him. Nevertheless, Hillary Clinton�s exposure to his ideas took place in a relatively open setting, as a by product of the University of Life . Rev. Jones arranged a trip to a Chicago ghetto so that his youth could meet with a group of black youths who hung around at a recreation center. There the program consisted of teenagers describing their reactions to Picasso�s Guernica . The youths met several times and also read Catcher in the Rye together. For the young, Republican Hillary, the difference in reaction between suburban and city youth was a major eye opener. Once eyes like hers were opened, it wouldn�t take them long in the Chicago of that day to find Alinsky.

Alinsky frequently used similar methods of experiential education � what Paolo Friere calls the�pedago - guey� of the oppressed. Here the oppressed were the teachers of those who were not oppressed. It was vintage Alinsky, borrowed by a young seminarian. Here we see the reason she eventually left behind both Alinsky and the Sixties. Her experience taught her to go other places. That the Sixties, Alinsky and religious faith taught her to learn from experience is the deeper and more enduring social source of her behavior.

Rev. Jones told Donnie Radcliffe in Hillary Clinton : A First Lady for Our Time that his goal with the youth group was �not just about personal salvation and pious escapism, but also about an authentic and deep quest for God and life�s meaning in the midst of worldly existence.� Thanks to Jones� emphasis on the public aspect of religion, Hillary had the chance to meet Martin Luther King, Jr., as well as Alinsky. Jones made arrangements for his group to meet King after King preached at the Sunday Evening Club in Chicago . With 2,500 other people at Orchestra Hall in Chicago , April 15, 1962, 15 year-old Hillary heard King preach a sermon entitled �Remaining Awake Through a Revolution.� To accuse her of taking this message literally would not be going too far. She has remained steadily fixed on a simple public theology and an alertness about political experience.

We unfortunately know very little about Jones� cohort at the church, Rosalie Benziger, the Christian Education director. Surely she had prepared even deeper ground for the encounter with Chicago, Alinsky, King and poverty in the curriculum used during Sunday School. What we do know about Benziger is that she was concerned about the students� reaction to the Kennedy assassination, and that she sent a letter to the entire 3,000 member congregation hoping that they wouldn�t begin finding Communists under every rock. �We knew that the children would be traumatized....� she had said. Benziger was right. These children were traumatized for longer than a generation. What�s significant in terms of Hillary Clinton�s development is that few Christian Education directors at the time reacted in this way, with a both political point to protect and a pastoral concern for children. The childrens� safe world had been invaded by a larger life, and it would continue to be throughout the Sixties.

Alinsky would not have appealed to the Methodism in Hillary �s personality. He was much too profane, cursing a blue streak, smoking non-stop, and insulting many people who were as earnest as she was. The University of Life focused on living and on under standing experience as it came. As we know, this emphasis on experience did not mean that Sixties people shared a single viewpoint. There were serious splits among political and cultural activists. Alinsky�s own pragmatism caused him to express great disdain for the Dionysian aspects of the Sixties. He made his organizers wear ties. He kept enormous distance from the politically flamboyant aspects of the flower child movement. He was widely known as a drinker and thought of drugs as counter-culture in a ridiculous way. Alinsky was very patriotic, very pro-culture, and never really did oppose the Vietnam War. He stuck to local and domestic issues like glue and had nothing but derision for those who did not.

Any Sixties person can see some of these tendencies in Hillary. Back then she would have been considered very serious, a �straight arrow.� Alinsky would have excited these serious tendencies with his own equally serious attention to matters of strategy and tactics, and by his own serious streak, which was a red hot concern for the poor. �Poverty is an embarrassment to the American soul,� he said over and over again. That was probably his only religious statement and it was enough to make him serious allies with the church in Chicago and beyond. Alinsky would not have appealed to the Methodism in Hillary�s personality. He was much too profane, cursing a blue streak, smoking non-stop, and insulting many people who were as earnest as she was. Still, their fundamental antipathy to poverty would connect them, and finally cause him to be the topic she chose for her senior thesis.

Hillary Clinton and Alinsky disagreed over the issue of localism. She did not believe the local was a large enough context for political action. For a suburban girl who already had a national candidate (Goldwater), that viewpoint was not surprising. For the poor that Alinsky loved, even a few blocks was too much. There were aspects of her middle class up bring that shaped her under standing of Slinky and his ideas.

According to Allan Schuster, professor of Political Science at Wellesley , she chose her senior thesis topic because she had met Alinsky in high school and had heard him speak at a meeting she had attended in Boston . That meeting resulted in her organizing a demonstration in the town of Wellesley � something slinky himself would have done. He thought campus issues, which Hillary had been working on for some time, were silly. They were about the middle class, not about the poor. Hillary responded to this guidance positively. But eventually she found the town of Wellesley and the city of Boston too �small� to matter to the poor as sites for change.

Clifford Green, then professor of biblical history at Wellesley College and now a professor at Hartford Theological Seminary in Connecticut , taught the bible course she was required to take in her sophomore year. His classes confirmed for Hillary the religious view point inaugurated by Jones � that faith had to do with life, not just with personal matters. Green remembers the surprise of the Wellesley girls that religion could be so public in its real meaning.

Weighing the two major influences on Hillary � religion and community organizing � her biographer Donnie Radcliff has it about right: religion probably meant more to Hillary than organizing. It was public religion that integrated the Sixties context and Alinsky�s focus on the poor and their suffering. The principle of public religion was also ratified by the Wellesley motto: Non ministrar sed ministrare (we are not here to be ministered to, but to minister unto). Taught early by Don Jones, sustained by Benziger, excited by King, challenged by Alinsky, Hillary Clinton was nursed by the Sixties city and the Sixties college to become a political activist with enduring power.

Schecter says that Alinsky recognized her talents as an organizer during the Wellesley period and offered her a significant position after college. He didn�t offer these jobs to many women, nor did he offer them without a serious, often disturbing assessment of the person�s abilities. Caesar Chavez is a well-known example of an Alinsky disciple, chosen and hewn by the master. But whereas Chavez bought the localism of the Alinsky method, Hillary did not.

Schecter also confirms Donnie Radcliffe�s belief that Hillary turned Alinsky down because her senior thesis convinced her that his methods were not �large� enough. She believed, according to Schecter�s interpretation of the thesis, that Alinsky�s tactics and strategies were useful at the local level, but that even if an activist were successful in local organizing, systemic policy matters on the national level would prevent actual power from going to people. She chose to work at the macro-level of law rather than the micro-level of community because of this analysis. Many Alinsky disciples acknowledge that this is a serious and frequent argument made against him.

Hillary Clinton went to law school in order to have an influence on these larger and more difficult issues. Her motivation may have been religious in that uniquely public way that Jones taught her. She was not satisfied with the �right personal faith� and was far more serious about finding a way to put that faith into action. The University of Life approach is what has remained. This way of learning from the street was also a fundamental aspect of Alinsky�s teaching. In this way, we can see that Hillary was influenced by a powerful mixture of experience and theory. Then the credentializing began. She may not have known just how much Alinsky hated lawyers, but he hated them with a severity that makes her career choice all the more interesting.

For a young woman to turn down this extremely macho man, and to stand against him in theory as well as in practice, is astonishing, particularly given the times and her young age. Her assertion to Alinsky that confrontational tactics would upset the kind of people she grew up with in Park Ridge , thus creating a backlash, was either naive or brilliant. He surely told her what he is reported to have said � �that won�t change anything.� It couldn�t have been said with respect. She apparently countered, �Well, Mr. Alinsky, I see a different way than you.�

Perhaps this exchange explains why so many people find Hillary too assertive and aloof. She emulates Alinsky in the seriousness with which she accepts her mission � thus embodying his best teaching � and at the same time she distinguishes herself with her own point of view. As Schecter pointed out, she understood early on that poor people needed not just participation, but also structure and leadership. That she thought Alinsky could not provide that is surprising, but that is what she thought at that time. To have much more political sophistication in an 18 year- old would have been scary. Her thesis concluded that �organizing the poor for community actions to improve their own lives may have, in certain circumstances, short-term benefits for the poor but would never solve their major problems. You need much more than that. You need leadership, programs, constitutional doctrines.�

That analysis ultimately led to law school and not back to the University of Life or to Alinsky�s streets. In extensive correspondence with Rev. Jones during college, she began the shift from Goldwater conservatism to a more liberal viewpoint. �Can one be a mental conservative but a heart liberal?� she asked him at one point.

One example in a real political context shows her legal and activist mind at work. Marshall Goldman, a Wellesley professor of Russian economics, suggested that students had mixed up tactics in boycotting classes. He wanted them to skip weekends because that was sacrificial. Hillary responded quickly in The Wellesley News , �I�ll give up my date Saturday night, Mr. Goldman, but I don�t think that�s the point. Individual consciences are fine, but individual con sciences have to be made manifest.� Not only do we see her rational and argumentative mind here, but also the nearly literal interpretation of public religion that has integrated her political action and her life.

In the speech she made at her Wellesley commencement, she quoted a poem by a fellow student, Nancy Scheibner, called �The Art of Making Possible.� Hillary Clinton and Alinsky are fellow travelers here. The pragmatism of a politician joins the fundamentalism of a certain kind of true believer: this marriage is what has taken Hillary beyond her senior thesis. She does exactly what Alinsky would have taught her to do � to read, continuously, from experience. She also stays very close to what Jones and Wellesley would have her do � to express her faith in public action. Both politics and religion keep her safely in the Sixties realm and do so in unusual, personally appropriated ways. She moves beyond her senior thesis, but continues to put much of what she learned during that period into practice today.

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