Yesterday Media Matter for America released a well-researched report showing that conservatives have repeatedly resorted to blaming ACORN in place of substantive discussions of causes and solutions, even where the organization has little or nothing to do with the issue.
For us at ACORN, the findings in this report come as no surprise. Since the 2008 election, when ACORN became the focus of a coordinated series of attacks from partisan operatives seeking to derail then-candidate Obama's presidential campaign, we've become something of a beast of mythic proportions, casting magic spells, mesmerizing elected officials and the traditional media, all the while destroying the fabric of democracy one strand at a time.
Specifically we've been accused of everything from causing the global financial meltdown to getting billions in Federal payouts to voter fraud to manipulation of the US Census. As I said back in January, this is all just a big bag of overheated partisan fever dreams. Media Matters took the time to cut through the right-wing bamboozlement chorus with some cold hard facts. Here are a couple of examples from the report.
Global Financial Meltdown
Conservative media figures repeatedly invoked the specter of ACORN when discussing the causes of the financial crisis. For example, several in the media have claimed, suggested, or uncritically reported that ACORN contributed to the housing crisis by "bullying" banks into irresponsible lending to minorities. In many instances, media figures asserted that the group used the threat of the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) to intimidate banks into making risky loans. But as Media Matters documented, the media-promoted myth that the financial crisis was caused by banks lending irresponsibly to comply with the CRA has been widely discredited. According to housing experts, a large number of subprime loans were not made under the CRA, which applies only to depository institutions.
Billions in Government Money
In their coverage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the conservative media latched on to the false Republican talking point that the bill would provide funding for ACORN. In fact, the act does not mention ACORN or otherwise single it out for funding; ACORN itself has said that it is ineligible for the funds and has no plans to apply for them.
But, of course, silly little inconvenient things facts have never really stopped our right-wing friends from indulging in their creative writing exercises. The latest bit of nonsense comes from the wingnutosphere, where we are supposed to be gearing up to infiltrate and disrupt something called "tea parties". Adam Serwer over at the American Prospect's TAPPED blog has a quick run-down.
"So I was interested in finding out where the rumor started. It turns out, it started on somewhere on the Internet. I don't mean that someone reported ACORN activists showing up at a tea party and wrote about it on their blog, or that some local newspaper published a story to that effect, I literally mean it started on the Internet. Michelle Malkin linked to this post on a conservative blog, which linked to this post on an online tea party Internet forum. Meanwhile, Malkin has been twittering about this for days, hyping the ACORN/Kos/Obama conspiracy axis. All because someone wrote something on the Internet. I believe this policy can be explained as "trust, but don't verify."
When I first heard about this, I was like, "Why would we care about a bunch of old white women tittering about their chauffeurs over crumpets and clotted cream?" I don't even know what a crumpet is.
When I found what they really are, it was clear that they just aren't a priority for us. Look at my to-do list:
* Text buddies in The Illuminati re: one world government
* Secret meeting at Trilateral Commission re: one world currency ps good get on Geithner!
* Call Jimmy Hoffa re: belated b-day wishes - ask if Caribbean weather good for a 96-year old
* Remember to kick puppies
* Check-in with staff re: making babies cry. Only 7 on last trip. Why so few?
Seriously, I wish this was a simple laughing matter. But the truth is that our country is in the grip of its worst economic crisis in 80 years. Foreclosures are still happening at a rate of one every 13 seconds. Unemployment is above 8 percent.
Instead of engaging in a vigorous debate over combating the wave of foreclosures, or getting people back to work, or expanding access to health care or investing in our children, what we get from conservatives is scapegoating and scurrilous attacks based on paranoia and fantasy. Just a bunch of obfuscation and obstruction.
But we won't let that stop us. We are still engaged in our Home Defenders campaign to help foreclosure victims stay in their homes. We are still fighting for a national budget that starts prioritizing working families and invests in health care and education. And we're fighting the civil and human rights abuses occurring daily in Maricopa County at the hands of Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
The challenges confronting the United States are immense. But the American people are up to it, just as we have been up to it throughout our history. It would serve everyone if conservatives could join as honest partners in moving America forward. Given the evidence so far, I wonder if they are capable of it.
Follow Bertha Lewis on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@TheBlackInst