From a Fake Union Organizer, an Anti-Liberal Scheme
Nothing this fellow said was true. Public records reveal that his real name is John M. Howting. He is active in the conservative movement and does not want to organize a union. His company — for which he built an elaborate Web site — and its officials do not exist. Ms. Byer-Ettinger suspects that he secretly recorded their conversation.
¶ For several years, young conservatives have made a cottage industry of going undercover and trying to goad people working at perceived liberal institutions — like Acorn, NPR and Planned Parenthood — into saying something stupid. Trained by well-financed foundations, these dirty tricksters pose as pimps, sex traffickers and Muslim activists and record conversations surreptitiously. Then they release videos that have often been heavily edited.
¶ Conservative Congressional representatives call for investigations and try to slash financing. In the case of Acorn, some workers did, in fact, give truly stupid advice to the fake prostitutes. That organization went belly up.
¶ Planned Parenthood and NPR made far fewer mistakes and easily survived. But the disruptions were considerable.
¶ Of late, conservatives have set their sights on the Industrial Areas Foundation, a national organizing group founded by a hard-bitten, inventive organizer named Saul Alinsky. He campaigned to clean up the slums around the Chicago meatpacking district and fought segregation and abuses by banks.
¶ He has been dead and buried for 40 years, but mention of his name — Alinsky! Alinsky! Alinsky! — sets conservative Republican activists and presidential candidates to twitching.
¶ In the early 1980s, you see, an Alinsky-style organizer trained the young Barack Obama. For some on the right, this was the pivotal moment when the young Mr. Obama was dipped in the waters of radical struggle. Or, to quote a conservative columnist, when he was exposed to “the ruthless tactics and contempt for truth expounded by his guiding light, Saul Alinsky.”
¶ O.K. then.