Why Hillary Hates Guns
by Richard Poe
Monday, December 3, 2007
12:00 am Eastern Time
HILLARY CLINTON is America’s leading gun-hater. This is no secret. Her “F” rating from the National Rifle Association merely confirms the obvious. More perplexing is why she hates guns. The explanation may lie in the teachings of Hillary’s one-time political mentor Saul Alinsky.
As noted in last week’s column, Alinsky was a radical organizer who got his start building militant community groups in Chicago slums during the 1930s. Young Hillary met him through a leftwing church group in high school. She wrote her senior thesis about Alinsky at Wellesley College, and remained friends with him until Alinsky died in 1972. After law school, Alinsky operatives got Hillary an appointment to the House Judiciary Committee’s Watergate investigative team in 1974.
Hillary’s ties to Alinsky run deep. Her tactics have long borne his imprint.
In 1971, Alinsky wrote Rules for Radicals, a book destined to change the American left. In it, Alinsky mocked Sixties radicals as dilettantes who loved to talk revolution, but shunned the hard work of organizing the masses.
Especially irksome to Alinsky was loose talk of guns and bombs.
Such talk was fashionable in the Sixties. Student protestors loved quoting Chairman Mao’s 1938 statement, “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun”.
Some activists, like those of the Black Panther Party, went beyond mere words. In their ten-point platform of October 1966, the Panthers declared, among other things, “The Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States gives a right to bear arms. We therefore believe that all black people should arm themselves for self-defense.”
On May 2, 1967, Panther boss Bobby Seale led some 20 armed Panthers into the California State Capitol Building in Sacramento, brandishing loaded rifles, shotguns and pistols. They were protesting the Mulford Act, a pending bill that would bar Californians from carrying guns in public or in vehicles.
Police arrested Seale and five others, but pressed no weapons charges. Carrying guns was still legal in California. Prosecutors ended up charging the Panthers only with disturbing the peace.
Young Hillary Rodham supported the Black Panthers. At Yale, she helped defend the New Haven Nine, a group of Panthers who tortured to death a suspected police informant. Hillary worked closely with Panther attorney Charles Garry on the case. She was put in charge of monitoring the Panther trial for civil rights violations.
Despite her work on behalf of the Panthers, Hillary may have developed doubts about their tactics. Her mentor Saul Alinsky had harsh words for Panther gunmen. In his book Rules for Radicals, Alinsky expressed “contempt” for “those who leave their dead comrades and take off for Algeria or other points”.
Alinsky was no pacifist. In Rules for Radicals, he wrote, “The power of a gun may be used to enforce slavery, or to achieve freedom”. He rejected violence for practical reasons, not moral ones.
The problem with America, Alinsky wrote, was that rightwingers had more firepower than leftists. This made violent revolution impractical. “`Power comes out of the barrel of a gun!’ is an absurd rallying cry when the other side has all the guns,” Alinsky admonished his readers.
In Rules for Radicals, Alinsky noted approvingly that Lenin renounced violence upon returning to Russia from exile in April 1917. The Tsar had abdicated, but Social Democrats now controlled the government. Lenin’s Bolsheviks were outnumbered and outgunned.
Alinsky explained, “The essence of Lenin’s speeches during this period was `They have the guns and therefore we are for peace and for reformation through the ballot. When we have the guns then it will be through the bullet’ And it was.”
Lenin did not have to wait long. He siezed power in an armed coup in October 1917.
As long as the right has more guns, the left should oppose guns, Alinsky concluded. Only when the balance of power shifts, and “appropriate weapons” became “available” to the left, should leftists consider turning to violence.
To what extent Senator Clinton adopted Alinsky’s thinking on revolutionary violence we can only guess. However, her policy on guns is clear, whatever her motives may be. She seeks to disarm the American people, while arming herself to the hilt.
Hillary exhorts us to give up our guns for the common good. For herself, she aspires to the Presidency, from which perch she would wield power as America’s top law enforcement official, highest-ranking intelligence officer and commander-in-chief of the mightiest army, navy and air force in the world.
Something about this deal does not strike me as equitable. Or wise.