Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The New Bad Word, ACORN?

I'll be damned, those nutty old social conservatives love to make a new whipping dog of any major organization that doesn't benefit WASPism.  I've discussed this once before some white people will do anything to keep impoverish people of color down and how they love to use Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) as an example of this.  ACORN is the same organization that warned federal regulations about the predatory lending practices of now-defunct lenders like Countrywide and Washington Mutual (WaMu).  They also were the organization that called out the State of Indiana for its voter suppression contraversy back in 2006.  ACORN has done a lot, so it is an obvious target of those that wouldn't want the disadvantage to have a voice in the democracy. 

Well, this story being discussed by the Institute for Southern Studies hit the nail on the head:
With chapters in more than half the 50 states, it is arguably the largest national network that consistently organizes truly poor people, the vast majority being immigrants and people of color. In that time, ACORN has helped communities organize for desperately needed changes, from living wage ordinances to policies that protect every child's right to a high quality education. In this time, ACORN has angered many a local politician and multinational corporation, and these folks would be perfectly happy not only to see ACORN go down, but also to deal a blow to poor people organizing for power.
There are three major accusations against the group. First, that there is widespread financial corruption; second that they engage in massive voter fraud; and finally that they have too many different entities hiding their relationship to each other to get around legal limitations. As a natural outgrowth of its organizing, ACORN has provided critical services, including mortgage counseling, voter registration and tax preparation. These services were sometimes funded through federal government contracts, and it is those contracts that Congress is now threatening to end.
The only hard fact is that there was embezzlement. Though problematic, it was addressed both within and outside of the organization. The rest is a mash-up of misinformation with a lot of red-baiting and race-baiting, as Peter Dreier, the Dr. E.P. Clapp Distinguished Professor of Politics, and director of the Urban & Environmental Policy Program at Occidental College in Los Angeles, and others have reported.

These fabrications are designed to arouse distrust of collective action. The campaign against ACORN serves as an attack on organizing as a whole, which no community of color can afford not to do. We can see it from the denunciation of President Obama's background in community organizing to Glenn Beck's attacks on environmental leader Van Jones, cultural leader Yosi Sergeant and FCC Diversity Chief Mark Lloyd. This attack, like those, is a warning to anyone who adopts organizing as a social change strategy.
The Senate and House have bought into this stupidity because so-called progressive like John Conyers (D-Michigan) have voted to end the federal government's relationship with ACORN.  Also the U.S. Census Bureau has distanced themselves from ACORN as well announcing in late August that they would not be partnering with ACORN to conduct their surveys in urban area (although they have since the 1990 Census).
ACORN needs more accountable measure to the assure that their books are straight 24/7, but this assassination of this organization so politically, ideologically, and racially based because you don't see anyone going after the Salvation Army, which is a conservative and religious community based organization.  What a shame, but you see that racial and class issues are at the heart of the constant foolishness in this nation. 

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