George Graham

Don’t Tell Me the Attack on ACORN Isn’t Racist

The more I read and hear the more convinced I am that a race war is raging in America – especially in the media. Yes, I am “playing the race card,” as the racists glibly charge when they’re exposed. No, I am not referring only to the closeups of those Jim Crow placards TV commentators display while covering “tea parties” and town hall meetings and that revolting march on Washington. (That’s “revolting” as in upchuck causing, not as in rebelling against authority. The upchuck part is genuine; the rebelling part is bad theater staged at great expense by health industry lobbyists and Republican politicians.)

whiteI am talking about the attack on ACORN, a Republican assault shamefully joined by craven Democrats in Congress. Boo to the Democrats who voted to revoke ACORN’s funding. Cowards all, spineless, sniveling mice willing to throw anyone under the bus at the first hint of scandal.

Yes, I know, I know, a pair of so-called journalists entrapped ACORN workers into saying stupid and inexcusable things. The incident that’s getting all the publicity, of course, is the one where the two “journalists,” one dressed like a prostitute and the other like a pimp, went to various ACORN offices and finally found one in which workers gave them advice on tax evasion and importing under-age sex workers. They illegally recorded the interview with a hidden camera and put it on the internet. They also gave the tape to Fox News, which was only too glad to supply maximum exposure.

When ACORN found out, it fired the dumb workers, but that made no difference. Everybody jumped on the “defunding” bandwagon, even governors of states that gave ACORN no funding in the first place.

acornOK, so ACORN workers screwed up. And it wasn’t the first time. During the general election campaign, some part-time workers hired by ACORN to sign up voters for registration used fictitious names in an effort to pad their paychecks, not just fictitious but downright ridiculous names – Mickey Mouse, for example. Hmmm… I wonder whether that could have been the work of covert agents planted by conservative groups to undermine ACORN? Anyway, ACORN spotted the fictitious names right away, reported the fraud to the feds and filed charges against the perpetrators.

Remember the hue and cry raised by Republicans during the campaign? They accused ACORN of voter registration fraud and “trying to steal the election.”  (And mainstream media lazily picked up the accusations without checking them out.)

Obviously, ACORN is a prime target of right-wing media because the organization is most active in inner cities and other areas where impoverished non-whites live. It helps those people file their taxes, apply for aid, register to vote and obtain low-income housing. And ACORN volunteers pursue civil rights violations in court. A web site named Media Matters has analyzed the negative publicity blitz. Here is an excerpt from their newsletter, which I received today:

In a new study released yesterday, Media Matters for America methodically exposes how both Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity (of Fox News) have spent years obsessively attacking ACORN under the guise of exposing corruption at an organization that receives government funding. Consider the following staggering numbers:

On Beck’s and Hannity’s respective television programs combined, ACORN was mentioned 1,502 times between May 8, 2006, and September 18, 2009. More than 1,500 times. Remember that ACORN has not been charged with any wrongdoing. Not only that, but the organization has been awarded just $53 million in federal funding over the past 15 years – an average of $3.5 million per year. Compare that to the coverage Beck and Hannity gave to Jack Abramoff, former Rep. Bob Ney (R-Ohio), Blackwater, Halliburton, and Kellogg, Brown, and Root (KBR) – stories of well-documented political scandals and of corruption by companies that have received thousands of times more money from the government than ACORN has in the past 15 years. Abramoff and Ney were involved in influence peddling corruption that reached the highest levels of the Bush administration and Republican-controlled Congress. The aforementioned military contractors have all been involved in major controversies and scandals, some of which reportedly contributed to the deaths of U.S. troops, contractors, and Iraqi civilians alike. Combined, these contractors have been awarded at least $25 billion in contracts since 2001.

So how many times were these names mentioned on Beck’s and Hannity’s programs? Abramoff and Ney, 62 times; Blackwater/Xe, four times; Halliburton/KBR, 43 times. In other words, Beck’s and Hannity’s programs combined were approximately 35 times more likely to discuss ACORN than any of the military contractors. They were also 24 times more likely to discuss ACORN than Abramoff and Ney.

I don’t have the space I would need to list the outrageous crimes against humanity committed by rogue outfits like Blackwater and Halliburton. Vile behavior by military contractors has become commonplace – I’m talking murder, rape, torture, theft and fraud here, not just drinking vodka out of each other’s orifices and operating under-age prostitution rings.  Yet so far, not one of the offending contractors has  been “defunded.” They continue to work for Uncle Sam, raking in billions of our tax money.

To get around the constitutional ban on singling out a single individual or company, Congress has come up with anti-ACORN legislation that applies to “any organization” charged with breaking federal or state election laws, lobbying disclosure laws, campaign finance laws or filing fraudulent paperwork with any federal or state agency. It also applies to any of the employees, contractors or others affiliated with a group charged with any of those things. Democratic Congressman Alan Grayson of Florida has picked up on the legislative overreach and asked the Project on Government Oversight to sift through its database to find which contractors might be caught in the ACORN net.

rachelFor enlightenment, you might want to turn to Rachel Maddow on MSNBC (photo at left). Her show airs at 9 p.m. weeknights, and she promises to keep digging up information about this grotesque and disgusting miscarriage of justice. Last night, she cited such mainstream companies as Lockheed Martin and Northrop Gumman among contactors caught with their fingers in the cookie jar.

What I haven’t heard her say, but I think it goes without saying, is that one of the reasons for the right-wing virulence against ACORN is that the organization helps the downtrodden descendants of slaves in their struggle to climb out of the ghetto and join mainstream society. That is one thing the right-wing power elite and their surrogates will not tolerate.

About the author

gwgraeme

I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for Jamaicans.com