ACORN Ghost Hunters Smoking Dope on Corporate Trail

New Orleans  In the typical rightwing kneejerk, the other day all of the bloggers circulated a so-called report with blaring headlines produced in some inexplicable, sloppy way by something called Cause for Action, calling themselves “advocates for government accountability.”  The list was enjoyably ludicrous, but at the same time dangerously chilling.

The report called itself a List of Still-Active ACORN Entities, ACORN Allies, and Re-branded ACORN Organizations.   Is there any good way to interpret such a transparent “witch hunt” or such obvious “cold war” tactics?  “Still-Active ACORN Entities” implies that ACORN is still out there “alive and well,” rather than having declared bankruptcy in the United States in November 2010 and closed its doors.   A real list of “ACORN Allies” would number in the thousands if there was any research involved here.  And what is the point they are trying to make?  How does a group make the hall of fame or in the right’s view, hall of shame, as a friend of ACORN’s?  Certainly there is an implied threat here, given the right’s history of having attacked ACORN and a wild list of corporate within the ACORN family through Congressional resolution in 2009 and Planned Parenthood more recently.  Would these groups still have to find themselves forced to prove that they had independent corporate structures and governance rather than asking what could have possibly been wrong with their having been an ally of the largest organization of lower income families in the United States?

How could anyone defend this kind of lynch mob listing, and why are hard questions not asked of anyone who does so?

What is at issue here now for the right is that they do not like the very “idea of ACORN” being alive in any form or fashion, so are still committed to trying to bully-boy the millions that share ACORN’s goals, platforms, and aspirations and will always be fighting to achieve them under some banner or another.  In this kind of struggle even when a flag falls, thousands will pick it up and carry it forward, which is certainly what I have experienced with ACORN International and other organizations with whom I work since leaving ACORN in 2008.

That’s the serious threat being made by these ghost hunters.  Unfortunately the more modest efforts and involvement of community organizations in doing voter registration and embracing mass organization are still cowering in the face of these threats, although I’m convinced their spell and hollowness is finally beginning to wear off.

As a postscript I can’t help but point out on this wild list of 178 how many of these corporations no longer exist, haven’t existed as part of the ACORN family of organizations ever, and are simply ludicrous on their face.

  •  Advancement Project – which happens to be lawyer-based civil rights organization founded in 1999 in Washington, D.C.
  • Alliance for Justice (AFJ) – a respected organization with 30 years history, whose website tells their story:  Alliance for Justice is a national association of over 100 organizations dedicated to advancing justice and democracy. For over 30 years we have been leaders in the fight for a more equitable society on behalf of a broad constituency of environmental, consumer, civil and women’s rights, children’s, senior citizens’ and other groups.  Alliance for Justice believes that all Americans have the right to secure justice in the courts and to have their voices heard when government makes decisions that affect their lives.
  • Applied Research Center – another 30+ year old organization:  The Applied Research Center (ARC) is a racial justice think tank and home for media and activism.
  • Association for Union Democracy – an even older outfit:  The Association for Union Democracy (AUD) is the only national, pro-labor, non-profit organization dedicated solely to advancing the principles and practices of democratic trade unionism in the North American labor movement.
  • Catalist LLC – wow, they would be surprised to find themselves on this list!  This is Harold Ickes “list” and data operation:  To provide progressive organizations with the data and services needed to better identify, understand, and communicate with the people they need to persuade and mobilize.
  • Center for Labor Education and Research, Inc. – A labor research outfit in Massachusetts since the mid-1980s.
  • Center on Policy Initiatives (CPI) – CPI is a nonprofit research and action institute dedicated to advancing economic equity for working people and diverse communities throughout the San Diego region.  And, doing so for the last 15 years.
  • Chincoteague Cultural Alliance, Inc. —  A Virginia-based organization that was new to me.   Must have ruffled some feathers on some rightwing vulture though:  Creating opportunities for residents and visitors to the Eastern Shore to experience and learn about the arts.
  • Community Asset Development Redefining Education – CADRE seems to be a 10-year old organization in South Los Angeles that says it has canvassed 4000 families in that period about education.  Who know what the beef here is?

You get the idea, right?  The list is whack.  And, I’m not counting the random group in Detroit that began in 2011 and seems to be about good jobs or, if you can believe this one, the fact that the list includes the Dallas, Texas Quaker Meeting Association!  Nor am I including things like the giant 2 million-member Service Employees International Union (SEIU) or its largest local, 1199 with over 200,000 members which also make this list of 174 organizations supposedly part of the ACORN eternal empire.

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