When the IAF began to organize in the Las Vegas Valley, a June 11, 2012 blog post titled “Fighting the Devil in Sin City” caused a stir, primarily in Catholic circles. The anonymous author declared that, “The devil has made Las Vegas his playground. We the Church Militant must build a Catholic fortress to defend against this gate to hell.” The target was the Las Vegas Valley Interfaith Sponsoring Committee, a precursor to Nevadans for the Common Good. Alinsky’s Lucifer reference figured prominently in the blast. The post included a predictive assertion:
“While the IAF’s local affiliates (such as the Las Vegas Valley Interfaith Sponsorship Committee-see supporting documents below) purport to be concerned with Las Vegas’ social issues such as the trafficking of minors, local work for the common good is typically shelved before long and national political issues are soon given the priority and the funding.”
Four years and several months later nothing like this happened. In fact, in subsequent years the IAF organization in Nevada went on to spearhead a law-changing drive to curb predatory sex trafficking of women and children while advancing a broad local agenda for community improvement (see “What Happened in Vegas, Battling Nevada’s Underage Sex Trade in Commonweal, Sept 9, 2015 (https://www.commonwealmagazine.org/what-happened-vegas).
The example is instructive because attending to the fruits of the organizing - in this case a decisive blow against sex trafficking - contradicts the conspiratorial, even devilish, fears stirred up by the anonymous claimants. The same pattern repeats hither and yon: conspiratorial fears are aroused by individuals/groups wrongly interpreting and abstracting Alinsky’s writings until they are debunked by real world actions and outcomes produced by IAF organizations. This oft repeated experience helps explain the continuing growth of the IAF network despite the best efforts of the Alinsky bashers (www.democraticfaith.com further explores the range, reach and results - the fruits - of IAF organizing).
Frank C. Pierson, Jr.
Frank Pierson retired after forty years of work with the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) as a professional organizer. He began his career in 1971 in Chicago, moved to Queens, New York City and migrated west to work in Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada and Colorado. He resides with his wife, Mary Ellen Kazda, in Oracle, Arizona. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org