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Who is Saul Alinsky?

Ben Carson speaks
Dr. Ben Carson addresses RNC 07:34

In his speech at the Republican convention Tuesday, Ben Carson claimed Hillary Clinton "greatly admired" a man named Saul Alinsky, whom, he said was "one of her heroes, her mentors."

From the context of his remarks, Carson's objection appears to be that Alinsky mentioned Lucifer in one of his books, "Rules for Radicals." The mention of Alinsky's name likely did little to move the audience of Republican delegates (at least until Lucifer's name was mentioned).

So who was Saul Alinsky and what was Clinton's relationship to him?

Alinsky was a pioneer in community organizing in Chicago, known for extremely confrontational, though non-violent tactics in effecting social change. His methods have been used by liberals and tea party conservatives alike, although he was personally a liberal Democrat.

"Hillary Clinton is bad" night at the RNC 16:17

He wrote that organizers who are really dedicated to changing lives in a community "must first rub raw the resentments of the people of the community; fan the latent hostilities of many of the people to the point of overt expression," a Wall Street Journal story in 2012 noted.

Alinsky urged organizers to search out controversy because without controversy, he believed, people don't care enough to act.

According to the Journal, "Rules for Radicals" was given to FreedomWorks leadership -- the tea party group run by former GOP House Majority Leader Dick Armey.

And Carson was right that Clinton did write her college thesis about Alinsky -- and she was, according to the WSJ, even offered a job by him (she turned it down). Her thesis reportedly was "critical at times of Mr. Alinsky's tactics," the WSJ said.

Alinsky was known for fighting for improved city services for poor residents of Chicago in the South Side, where President Obama was an organizer after law school, and where Michelle Obama grew up. Alinsky also worked to improve conditions in the city's meat processing plants.

And returning to the topic of Lucifer, Carson railed against Clinton and Alinsky -- "This is a nation where every doing in our pocket and every bill in our wallet says In God We Trust," he exclaimed. "Are we willing to elect someone as president who has someone as her role model someone who acknowledges Lucifer?"

Lucifer's name in the context of that acknowledgment page was not so much about the morality of Lucifer, but rather, his tactics. On the acknowledgment to "Rules for Radicals," Alinsky wrote:

Lest we forget at least an over-the-shoulder acknowledgment to the very first radical: from all our legends, mythology, and history (and who is to know where mythology leaves off and history begins or which is which), 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
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