Reviews

Please review Fanning the Flames by leaving a comment below. All reviews will be published except those that contain obscenities, personal attacks and threats.

Unlike the Alinsky-radical, Mr. Pappas welcomes dissent.

8 Responses to Reviews

  1. Steven Page says:

    Peter makes a strong case that Saul Alinsky and his tactics are frequently used by the left today to defeat conservatives. Some of the tactics are so disturbing they might keep you awake at night. The book is meticulously researched and well written. I recommend it to anyone who wants to truly understand the lengths to which political fanatics will go to get what they want.

  2. James B says:

    Fanning the Flames is an excellent read. Well written and well researched , the author has done a great job of bringing to light the unfair tactics used by radicals to advance their agenda. Although thin skinned radicals may believe differently , Mr. Pappas does not attack anyone’s political beliefs or policies . He objectively exposes the methods used by some groups to advance their causes. Mr. Pappas exposes these unscrupulous tactics for what they are , and gives the people who are the subject of the attacks methods to counteract them . If you enjoy politics or history , whether you are liberal , conservative or somewhere in between , you will enjoy this book . It is thought provoking and it will stimulate hours of discussion . This book is a must read for anyone active in politics on any level , including politics in your community , in your business or in your religious place of worship . It helps all sides clarify their own thoughts , and understand the thoughts of their adversaries.

  3. Peter Dreier says:

    Mr. Pappas’ “Fanning the Flames” is yet another book by a conservative author that distorts Saul Alinsky’s life and legacy. Others in this genre include Matthew Vadum’s “Subversion, Inc,” Stanley Kurtz’s “Radical in Chief,” Newt Gingrich’s ” To Save America: Stopping Obama’s Secular-Socialist Machine,” and Aaron Klein’s “The Manchurian President.” The Right has resurrected and demonized Alinsky in order to attack Barack Obama as a dangerous radical and to attack contemporary progressive activists for following what conservatives misconstrue as Alinsky’s undemocratic ideas and tactics. If you want to learn more about the Right’s misleading attacks on Alinsky, you can read my article, “The Right Resurrects Saul Alinsky” on Huffington Post (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/peter-dreier/the-right-wing-resurrects_b_1663154.html) or my chapter about Alinsky in my new book, “The 100 Greatest Americans of the 20th Century: A Social Justice Hall of Fame,” published by Nation Books.

    • ppappas says:

      Peter Dreier, thanks for visiting the site and commenting. I appreciate it.

      It seems that you have not read the book. See Chapter 18 – Alinsky Revisionism – where I mention your (and Michael Kazin’s, Bill Moyer’s and Nick Von Hoffman’s) desperate attempts to rehabilitate Alinsky. If you don’t think Alinsky was a radical’s radical, you could not have read his books. I address every point you made in your HuffPo article “The Right Resurrects Saul Alinsky.” You can’t ressurect someone who never died.

      By the way, Peter, read my book first before you make your conclusions. And you might also want to actually read Rules for Radicals and Revielle for Radicals. Alinsky was not only a radical, but a nihilist. He wanted to destroy the status quo and see what would happen. He was about destroying things, not building them up and he admits as much in his books.

      Just because you don’t like the people who are advancing the idea, doesn’t mean you have to dislike the idea.

  4. Peter Dreier says:

    Of course I’ve read both of Alinsky’s books and am very familiar with the groups that consider themselves part of the Alinsky tradition. You are simply wrong about Alinsky. He was a radical, but not a nihilist. He was a radical in the same tradition as Samuel Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Jane Addams, Franklin Roosevelt, John Dewey, W.E.B. DuBois, Alice Paul, Walter Reuther, Martin Luther King, and many other American patriots. He believed in democracy and wanted to extend it to as many people as possible. He believed in voting rights, civil rights, workers rights, and human rights and figured out how to organize people to achieve those ends, often against powerful elites who didn’t want to relinquish their power. That’s part of the great tradition of America.

    • ppappas says:

      Peter (Dreier),

      That’s what you want him to be, but not what he was.

      Alinsky believed in using any means necessary to achieve his ends – that is radical. He believed that ridicule was the radical’s most potent weapon – that is radical. He wanted to destroy the status quo – that is nihilistic. He said that even if the people were content and happy, the radical had to convince them they were miserable otherwise nothing would get done. He said “stir up dissatisfaction” and “fan the flame of hostilities.” He instructed the radical to invent scapegoats that the people could learn to hate because hatred and anger spurred action. He didn’t even care if the target was the right one. Any symbolic target would do. He said overturn the status quo and let’s see what happens – again, nihilistic.

      Alinsky said that he preferred to go to hell rather than heaven because in hell were “my kind of people.” He gave a tribute – “an over the shoulder acknowledgment” – to Milton’s Lucifer, the devil. Both of his books, Reveille and Rules, talk only about destroying things not building anything (other than a movement that would destroy things). He couldn’t care less about what policies would prevail after he had destroyed the status quo, he just wanted to destroy it.

      There are hundreds of other corroborated examples in my book. He bragged about his association with the Capone gang and the thug, John L. Lewis. He disliked Cesar Chavez because he was too nice. He loved Lewis because he was willing to put his enemies in the “ash can” (literally). He said that the radical might have to resort to the sword. He disagreed with The Black Panther’s calls for armed, violent revolution, not on moral grounds, but because he thought it was a bad tactic. He approved of the domestic terrorist tactics of the Weathermen, Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dhorn.

      You are defending the indefensible. Fortunately for the truth seekers among us, the evidence against Alinsky was written by Alinsky himself. His own words and deeds convict him.

      Conservatives bring up Alinsky because Alinsky wrote the books for radicals that Obama and other Chicago radicals studied and put into practice. See Ryan Lizza and others who, like me, thoroughly corroborate the connection between Alinsky and Obama.

      Alinsky is no bogeyman because everything conservatives say about him is true. And if you bother to read the book, you will see how frequently left wing radicals employ Alinsky’s rules to the very letter.

      Finally, my book is not about trashing Alinsky (I say so in my introduction, which you can read for free on my website), but rather about proving that his radical rules are in widespread use today among the radical left.

      Finally, comparing Martin Luther King, Jr, Thomas Jefferson, Sam Adams and Franklin Roosevelt to Alinsky is absurd. DuBois was a radical, too, so that comparison might be apt. John Dewey was a thinker not a doer, so I am not sure about that one, either.

      And I can assure you that none of the men and women you mention ever instructed people to corrupt their consciences for the cause. Only a nihilist – someone who thinks life is meaningless – would try to persuade people to sacrifice their own principles for the sake of his principles.

      I read your HuffPo article three times. Read my book. I promise it won’t bite you.

  5. ppappas says:

    This is Peter Drier’s email response to my email to him. His response is in capital letters immediately following my assertion. It has not been edited in any way.

    That’s what you want him to be, but not what he was.

    Alinsky believed in using any means necessary to achieve his ends – that is radical. He believed that ridicule was the radical’s most potent weapon – that is radical. He wanted to destroy the status quo – that is nihilistic. He said that even if the people were content and happy, the radical had to convince them they were miserable otherwise nothing would get done. He said “stir up dissatisfaction” and “fan the flame of hostilities.” He instructed the radical to invent scapegoats that the people could learn too hate because hatred and anger spurred action. He didn’t even care if the target was the right one. Any symbolic target would do. He said overturn the status quo and let’s see what happens – again, nihilistic. THIS IS NONSENSE. ALINSKY DID NOT BELIEVE THAT THE ENDS JUSTIFY ANY MEANS. HE DID NOT BELIEVE IN USING VIOLENCE. HE DID NOT SEEK TO OVERTHROW THE GOVERNMENT. HE WANTED PEOPLE TO VOTE AND USE CREATIVE PROTEST, SOMETHING THAT IS PART AND PARCEL OF OUR PATRIOTIC TRADITIONS. HE DID NOT WANT PEOPLE TO INVEST SCAPEGOATS. HE WANTED PEOPLE TO UNDERSTAND HOW POWER WORKED SO THAT THEY COULD IDENTIFY THE INSTITUTIONS AND PEOPLE WHO COULD BE NEGOTIATED WITH. FOR EXAMPLE, TO GET EASTMAN KODAK IN ROCHESTER TO COME TO THE BARGAINING TABLE WITH “FIGHT” (THE I.A.F. GROUP IN THAT CITY) HE ENCOURAGED PEOPLE TO BUY STOCK IN THE COMPANY AND SHOW UP AND PROTEST INSIDE AND OUTSIDE THE ANNUAL STOCKHOLDERS MEETING. THAT WAS CREATIVE PROTEST, NOT REVOLUTION OR NIHILISM.

    Alinsky said that he preferred to go to hell rather than heaven because in hell were “my kind of people.” He gave a tribute – “an over the shoulder acknowledgment” – to Milton’s Lucifer, the devil. Both of his books, Reveille and Rules, talk only about destroying things not building anything (other than a movement that would destroy things). He could care less about what policies would prevail after he had destroyed the status quo, he just wanted to destroy it. YOU RIGHT-WINGERS HAVE A THING ABOUT LUCIFER. ALINSKY WANTED TO STRENGTHEN DEMOCRACY, NOT DESTROY THINGS. CHANGING THE STATUS QUO IS A GOOD THING IF THE STATUS QUO IS UNFAIR. AT ONE POINT IN OUR HISTORY, SLAVERY WAS THE STATUS QUO. ARE YOU IN FAVOR OF SLAVERY? WERE THE ABOLITIONISTS WRONG TO TRY TO CHANGE IT? IF YOUR ANSWER IS “YES” TO ONE OR BOTH OF THESE QUESTIONS, THEN YOU’RE LIVING ON THE WRONG PLANET.

    There are hundreds of other corroborated examples in my book. He bragged about his association with the Capone gang and the thug, John L. Lewis. He disliked Cesar Chavez because he was too nice. He loved Lewis because he was willing to put his enemies in the “ash can” (literally). He said that the radical might have to resort to the sword. He disagreed with The Black Panther’s calls for armed, violent revolution, not on moral grounds, but because he thought it was a bad tactic. He approved of the domestic terrorist tactics of the Weathermen, Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dhorn. ALINSKY WASN’T A FAN OF THE CAPONE GANG, BUT HE LEARNED FROM THEM WHY PEOPLE TURN TO CRIME AND HOW CRIMINAL GANGS EXPLOIT WORKING CLASS PEOPLE. HE VIEWED HIS EFFORTS TO ORGANIZE POOR AND WORKING CLASS PEOPLE AS AN ALTERNATIVE TO CRIME, VIOLENCE, AND THUGGERY. THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO EVIDENCE THAT ALINSKY APPROVED OF THE TERRORIST TACTICS OF THE WEATHERMEN, AYERS, ETC. YOU’RE MAKING THAT UP. IN FACT, ALINSKY DISAGREED WITH THE RADICAL WING OF THE NEW LEFT. THERE’S LOTS OF EVIDENCE FOR THAT.

    You are defending the indefensible. Fortunately for the truth seekers among us, the evidence against Alinsky was written by Alinsky himself. His own words and deeds convict him. IF YOU’RE A “TRUTH SEEKER,” YOU’RE LOOKING IN THE WRONG PLACES AND COMING UP WITH THE WRONG ANSWERS.

    Conservatives bring up Alinsky because Alinsky wrote the books for radicals that Obama and other Chicago radicals studied and put into practice. See Ryan Lizza and others who, like me, thoroughly corroborate the connection between Alinsky and Obama. RIGHT WINGERS LIKE YOU MAKE A HUGE AND UNSUBSTANTIATED LEAP OF LOGIC THAT BECAUSE OBAMA WAS ONCE A COMMUNITY ORGANIZER HE WAS ALSO A LEFT-WING RADICAL, AND THAT HIS AGENDA AS PRESIDENT IS RADICAL.

    Alinsky is no bogeyman because everything conservatives say about him is true. And if you bother to read the book, you will see how frequently left wing radicals employ Alinsky’s rules to the very letter. THERE ARE NIHILISTS ON THE LEFT, JUST AS THERE ARE NIHILISTS ON THE RIGHT. I DON’T AGREE WITH THEM AND THEY AREN’T FOLLOWING ALINSKY’S VIEWS, SINCE ALINSKY WAS A RADICAL DEMOCRAT (WITH A SMALL “D”), NOT A NIHILIST OR ANARCHIST. HE WAS IN FAVOR OF BUILDING GRASSROOTS ORGANIZATIONS TO GET PEOPLE TO VOTE, PROTEST, NEGOTIATE, AND COMPROMISE. THAT IS HARDLY NIHILISM.

    Finally, my book is not about trashing Alinsky (I say so in my introduction, which you can read for free on my website), but rather about proving that his radical rules are in widespread use today among the radical left.

    Finally, comparing Martin Luther King, Jr, Thomas Jefferson, Sam Adams and Franklin Roosevelt to Alinsky is absurd. DuBois was a radical, too, so that comparison might be apt. John Dewey was a thinker not a doer, so I am not sure about that one, either. AS I MENTIONED ON YOUR WEBSITE, ALL THESE PEOPLE FAVORED EXTENDING AND STRENGTHENING DEMOCRACY. YOU’RE WRONG ABOUT DEWEY. HE WAS A THINKER AND AN ACTIVIST. YOU OBVIOUSLY DON’T KNOW YOUR AMERICAN HISTORY. READ THE CHAPTER ON DEWEY IN MY BOOK, “THE 100 GREATEST AMERICANS OF THE 20TH CENTURY.”

    And I can assure you that none of the men and women you mention ever instructed people to corrupt their consciences for the cause. Only a nihilist – someone who thinks life is meaningless – would try to persuade people to sacrifice their own principles for the sake of his principles. AS I’VE MENTIONED ABOVE, ALINSKY WAS NOT A NIHILIST. YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT A NIHILIST MEANS, DON’T KNOW WHAT ALINSKY BELIEVED, OR BOTH.

  6. ppappas says:

    This is my response to Peter Drier’s response above:

    Peter,

    I can prove each of my assertions about Alinsky with quotes from Alinsky himself:

    1. You say that Alinsky didn’t believe that the ends justify the means? He not only said it, he said it often. He also likened the radical’s efforts to dismantle the status quo to war where, likewise, any means is justified:

    “Reviewing and selecting available means is done on a straight utilitarian basis – will it work?”– Rules for Radicals, page 24

    Alinsky said that the radical’s cause is “all shining justice, allied with the angels” and that his opponents cause is “all evil, tied to the Devil.” – Rules for Radicals, page 28; see also page 78

    “In no war, has the enemy or the cause ever been gray”- Ibid

    2. You say that Alinsky did not believe in violence. I write in my book that Alinsky didn’t commit violence only because it was a bad tactic. He did not rule it out. In other words, if he thought it would have worked, he would have been for it – the only question he asked of a particular means was “will it work.” Here are two Alinsky quotes that prove you wrong:

    “Power comes out of the barrel of gun is an absurd rallying cry when the other side has all the guns”- Rules for Radicals, page xx

    The Radical may resort to the sword but when he does he is not filled with hatred against those individuals whom he attacks. He hates these individuals not as persons but as symbols representing ideas or interests which he believes to be inimical to the welfare of the people.” – Reveille for Radicals, page 23

    3. You say that right wingers have a thing about Lucifer. This is hilarious. We have a thing about Lucifer because Alinsky had a thing about Lucifer. Had he not paid tribute to the devil in his book we would never have brought the demon up. And don’t you find it a tad odd that a man would write a book and pay tribute to the devil? Now, I am not suggesting that Alinsky was the devil, but only that he took pleasure in being opposed to the status quo even if the status quo was virtuous. Here are a few Alinsky quotes that might help you with this. The second is an excerpt from an interview he had with Playboy magazine a few months before his death:

    “Lest we forget at least an over-the-shoulder acknowledgment to the very first radical: from all our legends, mythology, and history… the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom — Lucifer.” – Rules for Radicals, Quotations Page

    ALINSKY: If there is an afterlife and I have anything to say about it, I will unreservedly choose to go to hell.
    PLAYBOY: Why?
    ALINSKY: Hell would be heaven for me. All my life I’ve been with the have-nots. Over here, if you’re a have-not, you’re short of dough. If you’re a have-not in hell, you’re short of virtue. Once I get into hell, I’ll start organizing the have-nots over there.
    PLAYBOY: Why them?
    ALINSKY: They’re my kind of people
    .

    4. You say that “changing the status quo is a good thing if the status quo is unfair.” I agree. I don’t have a problem with the radical left trying to change the status quo. I have a problem with them using slander, ridicule and intimidation in order to do it. This is what Alinsky taught them to do and this is what I object to. Again, you clearly have not bothered to read my book. Your comments about slavery are completely irrelevant. I am opposed to slavery and radical tactics.

    5. You said that Alinsky didn’t admire the Capone gang. I can’t get inside the man’s head like you apparently can, but I can read his words. He used their tactics and bragged about using their tactics. He boasted about being pals with Frank Nitti, Al Capone’s number one henchman. He was proud of his connection to the Capone gang.

    “Big Ed had an attentive audience and we became buddies. He introduced me to Frank Nitti, known as the Enforcer, Capone’s number-two man, and actually in de facto control of the mob because of Al’s income-tax rap. Nitti took me under his wing. I called him the Professor and I became his student. Nitti’s boys took me everywhere, showed me all the mob’s operations, from gin mills and whorehouses and bookie joints to the legitimate businesses they were beginning to take over. Within a few months, I got to know the workings of the Capone mob inside out. – Still the Alinsky Playbook, Free Republic, March 27, 2012

    6. Obama believed in stirring up dissatisfaction and fanning the hostilities of the people to create mass movements. I spend very little time making the Obama-Alinsky connection and only make it to show that Alinsky’s influence is felt today. I don’t think Obama is a clone of Alinsky and I don’t think he is particularly radical. There you go again not reading my book. I don’t know whose book you are taking exception to, but it’s not mine. Having said that, what do you make of these words by Alinsky’s own son, David:

    “All the elements were present: the individual stories told by real people of their situations and hardships, the packed-to-the rafters crowd, the crowd’s chanting of key phrases and names, the action on the spot of texting and phoning to show instant support and commitment to jump into the political battle, the rallying selections of music, the setting of the agenda by the power people. The Democratic National Convention had all the elements of the perfectly organized event, Saul Alinsky style.”

    “Barack Obama’s training in Chicago by the great community organizers is showing its effectiveness. It is an amazingly powerful format, and the method of my late father always works to get the message out and get the supporters on board. When executed meticulously and thoughtfully, it is a powerful strategy for initiating change and making it really happen. Obama learned his lesson well.”

    “I am proud to see that my father’s model for organizing is being applied successfully beyond local community organizing to affect the Democratic campaign in 2008. It is a fine tribute to Saul Alinsky as we approach his 100th birthday.”

    L. David Alinsky
    Medfield

    7. You are right about Ayers and Dhorn. I misspoke. I meant to say that Alinsky disapproved of those tactics but not on moral grounds. Similar to his disapproval of the Black Panthers calls for violence. My bad on that one and I don’t suggest that he supported the Weatherman in my book. I do say that the Weatherman followed Alinsky’s proclamation that radicalism is war and any means is justified.

    8. I know what nihilist means and even gave you the definition in my last email. I think Alinsky fits the description. From Merriam-Websters, this is the definition of nihilism that I am using:

    “a doctrine or belief that conditions in the social organization are so bad as to make destruction desirable for its own sake independent of any constructive program or possibility”

    9. I defer to you on Dewey, but the fact that Dewey was similar to Alinsky is not necessarily a defense of Alinsky.

    I will publish your responses to my previous email on my website for everyone to see. I will also publish this email. If you want one final response, I will give you the last word provided it responds only to the contents of my surrebuttal (i.e. this email)

    Thanks for the spirited dialogue.

    Peter

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