PLAYBOY: Did you encounter much antiSemitism as a child?
ALINSKY: Not personally, but I was aware of it. It was all around us in those days. But it was so pervasive you didn't really even think about it; you just accepted it as a fact of life. The worst hostility was the Poles, and back in 1918 and 1919, when I was growing up, it amounted to a regular war. We had territorial boundaries between our neighborhoods, and if a Jewish girl strayed across the border, she'd be raped right on the street. Every once in a while, it would explode into full-scale rioting, and I remember when hundreds of Poles would come storming into our neighborhood and we'd get up on the roofs with piles of bricks and pans of boiling water and slingshots, just like a medieval siege. I had an air rifle myself. There'd be a bloody battle for blocks around and some people on both sides had real guns, so sometimes there'd be fatalities. It wasn't called an urban crisis then; it was just two groups of people trying to kill each other. Finally the cops would come on horses and in their clanging paddy wagons and break it up. They were all Irish and they hated both sides, so they'd crack Polish and Jewish heads equally. The melting pot in action.
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