Fear Mongering 101: Antifa as the New ACORN

Scene from the 1932 Antifaschistische Aktion conference.

New Orleans  The years go by and the work continues every day, but it is still surprising how ACORN continues to be crack for the right wing and conservatives in America. The other day a voter registration effort allied with President Trump cited its ambition as being an “ACORN for the right.” I can’t even imagine.

A piece written by Doug Porter in the San Diego Free Press notes that conservatives are fear mongering and creating fake reports to beat the drums in opposition to the new boogeyman, antifa, as the “new ACORN” in order to gin up the crowd. Porter’s piece (edited for length) does a good job on the latest effort of the right wing to continue to make ACORN a household name one way or another.

Be prepared to be very scared. Mask-wearing people clad in black are reportedly coming to a neighborhood near you very soon. You’ll want to clutch your pearls as they snarl at puppies, menace children, and spray paint obscenities in the neighborhood. Fox’s Sean Hannity will curl his upper lip, calling on milquetoast mayors for law and order in the streets.

Somewhere in the United States as I’m writing this, faux documentarian James O’Keefe is undoubtedly planning his next ‘gotcha’ production. I’m sure it will involve implied violence with not-so-subtle overtones of racism.

Something called Antifa has made itself known to fright wing activists desperate for any counterpoint to the insanity of Fearless Leader and his feckless followers.

So it’s time for a little common sense discussion. Does anybody remember ACORN? They were the conservative media’s excuse for losing the 2008 Presidential election. What ACORN has in common with Antifa is the fear the right hopes will paralyze or distract us from what’s really going on. 

The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), a non-profit organization spent nearly 40 years working on voter registration, community organizing and advocacy for low- and moderate-income people in cities coast-to-coast.

ACORN was, at times, flakey. They built some of their programs around what they could get funded. There were some square pegs filling some round holes in too many places within their organizational chart. But their hearts were in the right place.

Conservative activists Hannah Giles and James O’Keefe released some heavily edited videos filled with innuendos of underage human trafficking, tax evasion, and voter fraud. At the core of their story was the (false) allegation that ACORN was federally funded to the tune of $8 billion dollars.

The airplay and reaction to videos made in ACORN offices in Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Brooklyn, San Bernardino, and San Diego were part of the beginnings of what we now know as Breitbart.com.

Although ACORN declared bankruptcy and ceased operations in 2010, that hasn’t stopped Rep. Darrell Issa’s resolution barring any contracts or funding to be regularly passed by Republican Congresses over the past decade.

No actual wrongdoing on the part of the organization ever made it anywhere near a courtroom. Investigations by the Congressional Research Office, along with the New York and California State Attorney Generals found nothing but videotape heavily edited to make ACORN employees look bad.  

San Diego ACORN employee Juan Carlos Vera successfully sued both O’Keefe and Giles.

What’s amazing to me is that after all these years and investigations, fright wingers still invoke the term “ACORN” as if the organization existed.

There is no organization called Antifa and it’s highly unlikely there will ever be. This bit of truth won’t stop Faux news from reporting on what is essentially a self-identification as if it were setting up franchises in cities coast-to-coast.

While the clashes in Charlottesville may have created angst for some about the idea of open opposition, the subsequent counter protests in Boston have caused right wing organizers to cancel dozens of planned events. Those telling us to ignore them should have shut up by now, but nooo…

Counter protests, smartly done, are worth the effort, both in building a broader anti-Trump coalition and in opposing the organizing drives of the fringe-right.

Not everybody who claims to be Antifa is the real deal. Since there are lots of anonymous people behind those kerchiefs, there is also a growing faker movement designed in large part to feed the fantasies of fright wing media outlets.

Then there are the social media accounts running doctored photos of supposedly Antifa supporters doing horrible things, like the one Snopes debunked and the campaign on 4Chan by far-right sympathizers saying the group is promoting the targeting of white women for violence.

You get the point.


Please enjoy Jason Lee McKinney’s Sacred Southern Soul.

Thanks to KABF.