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I have worked with ACORN members and staffers since at least 1988. I even briefly wrote grants for NJ ACORN.
I'll be honest. I have criticisms of ACORN. It's not a perfect organization. But it's not being attacked because its organizing approach is flawed.
ACORN is being attacked because it IS organizing. It is being attacked because it is registering voters in low income communities. It is being attacked because it is not afraid to build power for low and moderate income people.
ACORN has been doing what it does (as have other community organizing groups) since way before subprime loans. As a result, a lot of lower income Americans got homes -- and counseling and fixed rate mortgages.
Then, at Sen. Phil Gramm's instigation, the US Congress passed a bill to repeal the Glass-Stegall restrictions that had protected us since the New Deal (and Bill Clinton signed it). That unleashed the educated fools that thought banking and gambling could mix, and created a market for subprime loans.
As the page cited below says, "The problem is, we will have to suffer the consequences - to ACORN, to the communities in which we work, to our democracy - long after the election is over."
Long after the election is over. This is not about election tactics. This is not even about ACORN. This is about defending low income people and the grassroots power they have fought hard to gain. This is about defending not just their homes and their votes, but the traffic lights, school reform, local mass transit, breathable air -- all the hardfought wins of grassroots democracy. This is about whether We the People get to participate in our own lives, or whether educated fools at the helms of corporations get to run them.
Please check this out and add your support.
By the way, if you have any doubt that organizing itself is under attack, check out this frothing at the mouth Faux News right wing blog. This guy is attacking Saul Alinsky, who many see as the founder of modern community organizing, because he dedicated a book to Lucifer -- Lucifer as "the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom." Of course, anyone who knows anything about Alinsky knows he was the ultimate pragmatist, not tied to any party or religion, including the rather pitiful cult of Satan-worshippers. (Those people can't even worship their own G*d, they just borrow one and invert it.)
In addition, any one who knows anything about community organizing today knows that its greatest support comes from the Catholic Bishops, and their Catholic Campaign for Community Development. But people who don't know that probably also don't know that the Bishops recently made a statement about the current financial crisis, and that its central message was:
This crisis involves far more than just economic or technical matters, but has enormous human impact and clear ethical dimensions which should be at the center of debate and decisions on how to move forward. Families are losing their homes. Retirement savings are at risk. People are losing jobs and benefits. Economic arrangements, structures and remedies should have as a fundamental purpose safeguarding human life and dignity. The scandalous search for excessive economic rewards even to the point of dangerous speculation that exacerbates the pain and losses of the more vulnerable are egregious examples of an economic ethic that places economic gain above all other values. This ignores the impact of economic decisions on the lives of real people as well as the ethical dimension of the choices we make and the moral responsibility we have for their effect on people.
Now, I'm not a Catholic, and I don't belong to ACORN. But I know that when they are both attacked -- and not for the worst they do, but for the best things they do-- we need to take a careful look at why they are being attacked. And the reason is that ACORN, the Catholic Bishops, and the process of community organizing itself are parts of the solution to problems that certain folks do not want to have solved.
It starts on Nov. 5. Be ready to be busy.
And my thoughts on Rev. Jeremiah Wright are on this page.
This is a personal site. I would very much like to hear from you if you find it useful or interesting.
An occasional feature, based on current articles:
How and Why the Washington Post Maintains the Status Quo
I have also restored something I posted on this site originally in 1999:
Is Your Social Justice Work Building a Strong Movement?
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