New Orleans A piece in the New York Times on Saturday by Ian Urbina was totally confusing. The headline said: “ACORN Says It Continues Its Work.” The story indicated a “letter,” or whatever you call an email that looks like a letter, was going out to everyone on the email list and all of us who are still dues paying, bank draft members. This story follows thousands of articles, blog entries, Facebook notes, editorials, and TV news reports that the organization was closing all offices and chapters on April first, no fools. The letter, supposedly coming out soon, indicates that we “…will continue to hear from ACORN – in the mail, on the Web, and in the media. And we need your continued support to counter the vicious antifamily, antiminority, anti-immigrant attacks of the Republican right.” WTF?!?
ACORN with no local chapters, no offices, no organizers, and no active members is not ACORN. Period! The one thing ACORN never was and never will be is an “out of body” experience. A membership organization is either an organization of, by, and for those members, or it is nothing at all. This notion of a zombie, walking dead, ACORN that only exists in the virtual world of the internet, press releases, and e-blasts is bizarre and perverse. Which is only really to say that it is probably perfectly natural inside the Beltway or up the Eastern Seaboard, where virtual, grass tips outfits are a dime a dozen, but under any circumstances are outside of my skill set and experience, so I don’t get it.
Although maybe I do, if I think harder about it. With the members and organizers gone, ACORN is now just a front for bankers, real estate agents, and, undoubtedly, lawyers, none of whom can seem to allow the organization to pass with grace, and probably should never have allowed the organization to pass at all, but whatever…as long as there is real estate to sell and bills to settle, they all probably have to prop the corpse up a bit longer until they are good and damned well ready to throw the last shovels of dirt on the grave.
I also imagine that the simple problem of what to do with all of us bank draft dues payers is still not resolved. We can’t be shuffled off to the newly formed organizations because they don’t exist in most areas where there are members, and where there have been members if there was an attempt to assign us over, that would establish the new outfits as successor organizations and create a new set of problems (see above on creditors, bankers, and lawyers!). For a long time, way before this terrible news of ACORN’s demise hit the papers, as many organizers openly discussed abandoning ship, there was talk of selling off the membership lists for whatever constituted a “fair” price to allow the new organizations to solicit the bank draft and other members to sign up with the new outfits. At the same time everyone must know that with all of this blood in the water, there is no way that the zombie-ACORN can simply collect the dues of either loyal members, or members not being allowed to withdraw their authorization for dues, or just plain members who joined to support the local chapters and their participation in their local groups which are plainly no more. That would be a bad business and I know from some of them that have found me somehow so that they could register the complaint, that they are already moving to file consumer complaints in Ohio, Maryland, and elsewhere that ACORN has already indicated that they are no more. None of us every agreed to pay dues to an internet ACORN. We thought we were supporting a flesh and body, dragon killing machine waving the banner for low and moderate income families around the United States.
It’s clearly all over now. ACORN was a real organization with a proud history of accomplishments for almost 4 full decades. It was not just about the shouting, and now that seems to be all that’s left. And, if the New York Times is to be believed, because they are quoting a “draft” after all, it’s now only the shouting that whoever is left wants us to support.