2009-09-18 In defense of ACORN

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<hide> <let name=data index=Date>2009-09-18</let> <let name=data index=Author>Joe Conason</let> <let name=data index=Source>Salon</let> <let name=data index=Topics>\ACORN\American cultural polarization\demonization</let> <let name=data index=URL>http://www.salon.com/opinion/conason/2009/09/18/acorn/</let> <let name=data index=Title>In defense of ACORN</let> <let name=data index=TitlePlain>In defense of ACORN</let>

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For many years the combined forces of the far right and the Republican Party have sought to ruin ACORN, the largest organization of poor and working families in America. Owing to the idiocy of a few ACORN employees, notoriously caught in a videotape "sting" sponsored by a conservative Web site and publicized by Fox News, that campaign has scored significant victories on Capitol Hill and in the media.

Both the Senate and the House have voted over the past few days to curtail any federal funding of ACORN's activities. While that congressional action probably won't destroy the group, whose funding does not mainly depend on government largesse, the ban inflicts severe damage on its reputation.

In the atmosphere of frenzy created by the BigGovernment videos -- which feature a young man and an even younger woman who pretend to be a prostitute and a pimp seeking "advice" from ACORN about starting a teenage brothel -- it is hardly shocking that both Democrats and Republicans would put as much distance as possible between themselves and the sleazy outfit depicted on-screen.

Like so many conservative attacks, the crusade against ACORN has been highly exaggerated and even falsified to create a demonic image that bears little resemblance to the real organization. Working in the nation's poorest places, and hiring the people who live there, ACORN is not immune to the pathologies that can afflict institutions in those communities. As a large nonprofit handling many millions of dollars, it has suffered from mismanagement at the top as well -- although there is nothing unique in that, either.

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<let name=data index=TextShort>“The right-wing crusade against ACORN is a far bigger fraud than any misdeeds a few employees might have committed.”</let> </hide><if not flag=$including><let name=docat val=1 /><call ShowLinkData /></if>