Making Lemonade

Here’s a great example of the law of unintended consequences:

The McCain campaign’s sour, distortive targeting of community organizing in an attempt to marginalize Barack Obama as “un-American” — or as New York Gov. David Paterson and others have suggested, using “community organizing” as a dog-whistle about race — has prompted an unprecedented outpouring of genuinely informative mainstream media coverage of community organizing.

TV networks, newspapers across the country, and the national news magazines have proffered community organizing “explainers,” as well as vivid profiles of community organizers who have dedicated themselves to the work of helping their neighbors to strengthen the social fabric.

Perhaps even more envigorating, the GOP smear machine’s malfunction instead polished up some great rejoinders, including NHI board member Peter Dreier’s analysis of community organizers who’ve gone on to elective office, on The Nation‘s Web site, then picked up by and other outlets; Harry C. Boyte’s spirited deconstruction of the “peculiar attack” in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune; and Newark Mayor Cory Booker’s moving first-person account of what community organizing means to him on Huffington Post.

Looks like a lot of people — and the press — have taken those lemons and produced something very refreshing indeed.

Alice Chasan served as editor and associate publisher of Shelterforce from 2007 to 2008.


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