Tuesday, October 14, 2008

First They Came for ACORN, But I Did Not Speak Out, And Then They Came for Me

Attacking minority-run organizations is the only hope, the last gasp that the GOP and their blogging shock troops have left. And some local right-wing bloggers are acting high and mighty like their latest battle is a noble fight for a just cause.

But the recent attacks on ACORN were never about principle. If they would have been about principle, you would have seen enduring criticism (like that from liberal and community-based groups) not prone to the ebb and flow with the election season (like Bob Krumm). It is about partisan politics pure and simple (the fact that Bill Hobbs is locked on ACORN evinces that point alone). It is nothing more than aped election strategy with a cosmetic moralism applied. John McCain's supporters have no lanyard to fasten his opponent to our current economic crisis, and they have no legitimate means of defending McCain's own history as a "deregulator" or his membership in the previous Keating 5 banking crisis.

Hence, attacking ACORN has three tactical purposes: to draw attention away from the purging of voters in various states, to take organized black and brown voters out of the equation, and to draw McCain closer in the polls in order to resurrect the hair's breath Republican win scenarios of 2000 and 2004. Republicans cannot win without without maximizing the great white vote, so they must peel off minority votes and suppress voter registration. The groups who orchestrate the purging of voter registration polls are mostly (if not all) white, and the groups who register as many people as eligible to vote are largely minority. Hence, their last ditch attacks are always going to be race-based, just like the Willie Horton-attack on Mike Dukakis in 1988.

There is one simple solution to the Republican election strategy: taking anyone who stands in their way out of the equation. The problem is that they would not stop with ACORN:
for all people who consider themselves to be progressive, let's be clear: The current right wing attack on ACORN is a frontal assault on all of us who fight for social and economic justice. ACORN may not always behave in the activist sandbox, but they are one of us, and we better close ranks around them, because the barrel of the right-wing attack gun will be focused on you and me next ....

For instance, over the last few weeks, the right wing has blanketed media airspace with the idea that the Community Reinvestment Act, as aggressively promulgated by ACORN over the past few decades, forced banks to lower their lending criteria, which led to the subprime crisis ....

Implicated are all the rest of us who have used the CRA, the only government edict against bank redlining, to own up to their obligations to lend in neighborhoods of color and low-income areas. Not only is this argument against the CRA and ACORN breath-takingly wrong – most subprime lenders were not even covered by the CRA - but it goes far to make the racist suggestion that the very people that ACORN represents – people of color, low income areas – are inherently high risk and unworthy of credit ....

As a progressive community, we have an obligation to call out ACORN on their stuff. God knows I have. But we also have an obligation to stick up for one of the most effective grassroots social justice organizations this nation has ever seen, an organization that stands on the frontlines everyday, taking body blows for all of us.
In support of the Republican effort, conservative bloggers are willing to conduct a scorched-earth policy to secure the road to the White House, wiping out every opponent to achieve their ends. If a critical mass of us fail to support the forward guard catching the brunt of right-wing prejudice and treachery, then they'll be targeting the rest of us next.

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