Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Community Service Is Better Than Community Organizing

Brandon Darby with Cathering Engelbrecht
Last night I went to hear a Q&A session with Brandon Darby, a reformed liberal activist. His conversion is fairly recent (since Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, which was 2005), so I wanted to hear his story. Being a man of action, right after the NO devastation, he went there to start giving aid—not money aid, but physical help. He and friends put out a thousand flyers saying, “if you’re in need of help or want to help, call” his phone number. And then they would go and help people muck out their places. In the two years he did this project, he had more than 22,000 volunteers go through his organization. 

[I personally know dozens of people who did similar mucking out. Our church sent work crews with tools and chainsaws for weeks—then working on closer devastation that resulted from Rita two weeks later. It was amazing, really, to see how much people wanted to help—an attitude that was repeated in 2008 following Ike. My personal belief is that when God wants people to show love to one another in the Gulf Coast, he sends a hurricane. I’m hoping we can do it without that message for a few more years.] 
people from my church helping doing hurricane relief in 2005

Brandon Darby started getting calls from various organizations offering to join with him to help. Mostly he was inviting all comers. But then frustrations started to turn up. Volunteers would come for a few days, maybe up to a week, taking time off from paid work to do this volunteer work, and the organizations that came to set up under him would insist these volunteers needed training first—on how to be racially and culturally sensitive. Really? Someone gives up a week’s pay and time to physically labor for complete strangers, and you think they need a three-day lecture before they’re allowed to help? So Brandon spoke up against that. The response was that they didn’t like the idea of a white patriarchal male telling them how things should be done. 

Up until this point he had bought in to the narrative that liberals care for people and conservatives are selfish and just look out for themselves. But that wasn’t what he was seeing. He met many people who functioned outside of the organizations who claimed to be in it for the poor—people who were simply non-political. They didn’t want to talk to Brandon about his beliefs, but they were willing to work with him if he could show them where help was needed. 

On the other hand, the so-called helping organizations had a specific agenda, of “community organizing,” in the Saul Alinsky/Obama sense. Their purpose was to gather more people into their organizations and indoctrinate them with their political beliefs—and helping people was not the end in itself, but the means to that other end. I think the term he used for these groups within groups connected to other groups was “the non-profit industrial complex.” 

His personal story is made for a movie or adventure novel. Because of his close ties to radicals over the years, even as he was changing, these friends came to him with the assumption that he was with them, sometimes with dangerous and diabolical plans. Eventually he ended up helping the FBI thwart terrorist attacks, including one intended for the GOP convention in 2008. He has gotten no end of grief for working with the FBI. Finally Andrew Breitbart came to him and said, “Why don’t you tell your story? Why don’t you defend yourself?” And he told him, “I do. They won’t print it.” So, by doing an end run around mainstream media, Breitbart helped him get his own story out. 

Darby admits that it was hard going to the FBI in the beginning, because he had bought the narrative that they were the evil villain US version of the KGB. But he got some good guidance from a friend who said, “Don’t tell me any more; you’ve got to contact the FBI.” And he knew he had to, or many innocent people would be killed. He added, “If you had any idea how many times you’re saved from being blown up, you’d feel a lot better about the FBI.” And he said he knows them now, not as a big brother government agency, but as many men and women trying every day to do a difficult and dangerous job. 

The stated goal of the radicals, he said, was to do anything within their power to thwart the Constitutional rights of opposing views from being expressed. Brandon Darby himself loves his country and loves the Constitution—totally turned around from where he had once been. 

The next question becomes, what can we do? He recommends serving. Go directly to the people who are being manipulated and “organized” by the enemy, and work with them, physically giving them a hand, and giving them face-to-face contact with you—so you become human to them. Then they can no longer believe the lies against you, because you have become real to them. 

I’m not sure exactly how we will fit this in our daily lives. I know my church is very good at rendering service and makes that a priority, which does build the trusting relationships he is suggesting. So it works. But doing it in the neighborhoods he says need it might take the protection of some organization, rather than just an individual showing up on the street. I’m hoping we will learn more. As a call to action, he suggests:

  • Talk to people in need.
  • Find out who helps them (as opposed to self-appointed black community leaders claiming to be who to go through).
  • Dig deeper.
I don’t fully understand all that means, for individuals whose lives are full with work and family. But I do indeed trust that people-to-people is the way to help, and not political leaders garnering government payola. Our political freedom, our economic freedom, and our civilization depend on our willingness to help one another freely.

The session with Brandon Darby was streamed live, and will soon be available for online viewing at King Street Patriots, under King Street Live.

No comments:

Post a Comment