Have You Heard the One About the Community Organizer?
[Guest post by DRJ]
Marc Ambinder wrote this about Sarah Palin’s “community organizer” jokes last night:
“The four mocking mentions last night of Barack Obama’s service as a “community organizer” have ignited a metapshereic debate about whether the term has racial connotations.
The McCain campaign says no: they insist that no one knows what a community organizer is, and whatever they think it is, it doesn’t compare to being a mayor. They say that because Obama cites his organizing work as a key point on his resume, it’s fair for them to tickle it. Their point is: he’s a governing dilettante.
Indeed, the Obama campaign knows that many Americans don’t know what a community organizer does, and they’ve changed the way they refers to Obama’s experience too. When he talks about community organizing now, he references his organizing work for churches. That embeds the work in a more familiar context. Inner city Catholics know what community organizers do, certainly.
But community organizers tend to work with poorer folks, and there’s some chatter among Democrats that it’s a subtle way to highlight Obama’s urbanity. Some Obama aides see it as a knock against the poor and their material needs.
I think it’s a cultural trope, like when Rudy Giuliani (lacking, I might add, any sense of irony or awareness of his own life), referred last night to Obama’s “cosmopolitan” background. It stirs up resentments. It makes elite Republicans feel comfortable with themselves. The audience repeatedly laughed; they got the joke. The question is: what was the joke?“
I thought I got the joke — that liberals think “organizing” a community is the same as “governing” a community.
If these Obama supporters are right that Palin was making a racist, urban, we-hate-the-poor point, those jokes went way over my head.
So does that make me an elitist or trailer trash?