Have you ever heard of a group called UNO of Chicago? No, not the deep dish pizza chain; the Left-wing community organizing outfit. How about the Midwest Academy? Does the name James Cone ring a bell? If you’re like most Americans – including many who consider themselves fairly well informed about President Obama’s background and associations – you’re probably drawing a blank on all three questions. That’s why Stanley Kurtz’s new book, Radical-In-Chief: Barack Obama and the Untold Story of American Socialism, is so important.
The key word in the title is “untold.” Kurtz, a respected investigative journalist and public intellectual, pored over reams of heretofore unseen documents and data from the president’s enigmatic past, and concluded that Barack Obama has been a movement socialist for much of his adult life. Despite its explosive title, the book is neither conspiratorial in nature, nor sensationalistic. It’s well-researched, and meticulously documented.
I sat down with Kurtz for a two-hour interview that will air in its entirety this Sunday evening on my radio program. For a flavor of the interview, here’s a partial transcript of just one exchange from our discussion, in which Kurtz details Obama’s relationship to the leader of a radical, ACORN-style group called UNO of Chicago:
GB: It’s 1985, and Barack Obama lands in Chicago, at which point he becomes caught up in an alphabet soup of community organization groups. Some of them, of course, I’d heard of – including ACORN – but others that I had not, such as UNO. Tell us about UNO, because that was one of the bigger eye-openers to me as I read [Radical In Chief].
SK: That is one of the more amazing things I stumbled across. Who knew that Obama had been part of a community organization that no one had ever heard of before? And yet Obama really was closely connected to a top leader…of a group called UNO Chicago. ‘UNO’ standing for “United Neighborhood Organizations.”
GB: This was a really poisonous group.
SK: They were hardcore Alinskyites. They really were kind of a predominantly Hispanic counterpart to ACORN, in that they were extremely confrontational in their tactics. They were famous, for example, for having trapped Republican Illinois Senator Charles Percy in a ladies’ bathroom to punish him. He was supposed to debate [Democrat] Paul Simon when they were running against each other [in 1984].
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography