Henican: Politics drive ACORN attack
There is no defending what the ACORN workers did.
Why even try?
Offering to help a couple of undercover filmmakers set up an underage brothel — that’s just wrong. The workers should be fired, as they have been — perhaps even prosecuted, as they may well be.
But the roar of outrage at ACORN — well, that has far more to do with today’s ideological politics than with the actions of a few of low-level workers or even the caught-on-tape gotcha techniques of conservative activists.
Follow the money — and the politics!
ACORN, which has existed for 40 years, organizes poor people around issues such as affordable housing, voter registration and community health care. The group has pushed for a higher minimum wage and gotten federal grants to provide loan counseling and foreclosure relief.
And those voter-registration campaigns in minority neighborhoods tend to help Democrats.
Especially since the election of Barack Obama, some conservative activists have been itching to get ACORN.That a couple of low-level ACORN staffers made it so easy is too bad. That ACORN’s good works may suffer is even worse.
ACORN, which stands for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, is the nation’s largest grassroots community group. Not too many other organizations are eager to roll up their sleeves in the neighborhoods where ACORN has thrived.
But on this flash of fresh outrage, the House and Senate moved quickly to cut off ACORN’s federal grants. And in the rhetoric of the moment, a few bad or stupid comments could easily tar a far-flung organization of 400,000 families in 1,200 tough neighborhoods.
Much of ACORN’s work, in areas such as central Brooklyn and the South Bronx, has been terrific. Some has been sloppy, ill-supervised and, in a few proven cases, deceitful or criminal. Some ACORN voter-registration cards were obviously false. Is “Mickey Mouse” really registered to vote?
But what large organization doesn’t have its errant members?
The National Rifle Association?
The American Automobile Association?
And who will take up ACORN’s essential work?
E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at twitter.com/henican.