But exactly why is this not new war being waged against the largest poor people's organization in the United States? And why now? Who gains from the quartering of ACORN? Let me answer these questions in defense of ACORN an organization that I worked briefly for as a communications consultant.
First and foremost ACORN is a nationally recognized poor people's advocacy group and is not funded or controlled by large corporations, big banks or Wall Street fat cats. The organization's skill in rallying ordinary poor working class Americans to protest against housing injustices and in getting out the vote in local and national elections have long placed it in the cross-hairs of the Republican Party's big guns. As a matter of fact, former Bush Administration political strategist, Karl Rove, was the de facto leader of a sustained, well-orchestrated attack campaign against ACORN.
ACORN was at the center of the Bush Administration's ire when it directed the Justice Department to bring charges against the group for alleged fraudulent voter registration drives. When Justice Department attorneys resisted, finding the charges unfounded and unsubstantiated, the Administration fired them because they (the attorneys) saw such actions as a right-wing, partisan witch hunt. This sparked a national uproar over the legitimacy of firing public prosecutors who resisted the White House's illegal demands.
Still smarting from this embarrassment Republican political operatives long sought some kind of evidence -- no matter how flimsy -- to go after ACORN. They tried and failed during the U.S. Presidential elections of 2004. The latest uproar involving ACORN is the high-point of a series of combative actions against the organization that started during the 2008 Presidential campaign when President Barack Obama revealed that as an attorney in Chicago he worked for ACORN on a court case.
That has prompted the Republican attack machine of Fox 5's Glen Beck, Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh et al. to enjoin the president as a staunch supporter and organizer for ACORN that they now label a left-wing (almost communist) organization (so Obama is therefore a communist/Marxist/Socialist - take your pick). The latest anti-ACORN attack came after a conservative filmmaker James E. O'Keefe III and a right-wing columnist posed as a couple planning to buy a house for use as a brothel and getting advice from a few ACORN employees. The meeting and interview were secretly filmed and the resulting video energized this protracted Republican right-wing war against ACORN.
Fox News showed the grainy footage over and over again as its talking heads gloated over what they saw as ACORN's illegal activities that ultimately created a Republican frenzy, started a poisonous, myopic melee in the mainstream media that panicked Democrats in Congress long accustomed to being bullied into submission by the Republicans. Affected by the contagious nature of the herd mentality Democrats joined with the Republicans to mercilessly attack a poor people's organization approving legislation to strip it of federal funding.
In the ensuing stampede the Congress took punitive action without even a suggestion of an investigation or even hearing of ACORN's side of the story. In the end the Republicans and Democrats rushed to judgment, conspired and collaborated to trample an organization whose members are mostly poor Blacks and Hispanics. In their frenzy they even sucked in President Obama forcing him to state that ACORN's actions and activities need to be investigated.
And it is there that we again see America's national double and triple standards and the fact that we're again entering a revitalized period of might is right and Bush's version of "shoot first in all things and ask questions later." In the case of ACORN we see the Obama Administration and the Congress both resisting national calls for former Bush Administration officials to be investigated for authorizing the use of torture during President Bush's failed war on terror. President Obama consistently downplayed the seriousness of an investigation authorized last month by Attorney General Eric Holder into several cases where CIA interrogators allegedly exceeded Justice Department guidelines after being publicly pummeled by former Vice President Dick Chaney and the Republican right-wing.
ACORN is now subjected to perhaps the harshest treatment by a national US government in over 25 years for simply organizing poor working people against predatory lending practices by a corrupt, greedy and racist banking system that helped plunge America into the most deep-going recession since the 1930s. Aided and abetted by the loud, stentorian bellowing from the right-wing, Democrats have been placed on the defensive even as Republican wrong-doing gets a free pass.
Swept under the table is the fact that in the 2008 Presidential Elections the Republican McCain-Palin Campaign also took a swipe at ACORN putting out a web ad titled "ACORN," which carried the verbal endorsement of McCain.
The ad asked "Who is Barack Obama? A man with "a political baptism performed at warp speed.' Vast ambition. After college, he moved to Chicago. Became a community organizer. There, Obama met Madeleine Talbot, part of the Chicago branch of ACORN. He was so impressive that he was asked to train the ACORN staff.
"What did ACORN in Chicago engage in? Bullying banks. Intimidation tactics. Disruption of business. ACORN forced banks to issue risky home loans. The same types of loans that caused the financial crisis we're in today. No wonder Obama's campaign is trying to distance him from the group, saying, "Barack Obama Never Organized with ACORN.' But Obama's ties to ACORN run long and deep. He taught classes for ACORN. They even endorsed him for President.
Here at last is the crux of the Republican war against ACORN in "moderate Republican" John McCain's own words: ACORN bullied banks, disrupted businesses, forced banks to issue risky home loans that ultimately caused the financial crisis. Have you ever heard such lunatic drivel? ACORN force banks? Is this organization the federal government? Disrupted businesses? Good lord! Now the same people with a fixed agenda -- to get rid of ACORN so it can't mobilize poor people and get out the vote in the 2010 Congressional elections -- have come up with novel new videos and "proof" that this poor people's organization, funded by working people, is a significant threat to Americans.
So day after day in the mainstream media and in the hallowed halls of the US Congress an endless torrent of irresponsible gargoyles keep hurling the red meat of hate and slander to the least informed, most hate-filled cadres in an increasingly ignorant demographic consumed in the malice and stupidity that makes license holders money today as it eats the country up from the inside in the long term. Critical thinking is dead and buried. The age of ignorance has triumphed.
ACORN's "wrong-doing" is the latest in a string of putrid lies and deceptions hatched and promoted by a rabid right-wing that wants us to believe that President Barack Obama will introduce death panels that will kill the elderly, that he was not born in America and is therefore not eligible to be president, and the warped, insane reasoning that the USA couldn't live without attacking and occupying Iraq (3 Trillion dollars later of taxpayers' money). Finally that former Republican vice-president nominee, Sarah Palin, is a genius who loves America. What a load of unadulterated crap.
But ACORN is not down and out. And the right-wing chorus that is now clucking about landing one punch should think twice. Lying although elevated to national policy levels brings only short term benefits. This new attack will only serve to energize and enrage ACORN's supporters and create a serious political backlash that can have very far reaching repercussions down the road. The history of ACORN is one of poor people struggling as David did against Goliath and we all know the end-result of that confrontation. History is on the side of ACORN.