ACORN In Perspective.

Via Mike Tomasky, Joe Conason puts the (somewhat justifiable) outrage over the ACORN scandal in context:

Yet ACORN's troubles should be considered in the context of a history of honorable service to the dispossessed and impoverished. No doubt it was fun to dupe a few morons into providing tax advice to a "pimp and ho," but what ACORN actually does, every day, is help struggling families with the Earned Income Tax Credit (whose benefits were expanded by both Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton). And while the idea of getting housing assistance for a brothel was clever, what ACORN really does, every day, is help those same working families avoid foreclosure and stay in their homes.

Let's not forget that the "pimp and ho" scandal isn't the root of the right's animosity toward ACORN; their work on behalf of low-income people is. The video may have exposed ACORN's difficulty in enforcing professional standards in the workplace, and denying them federal funding until they fix those problems may be justifiable--but it's noteworthy that institutions advocating on behalf of more powerful interests haven't faced a similar fate.

The right however, has looked at the ACORN scandal as a kind of vindication of all their paranoid fantasies of what ACORN was responsible for--namely that ACORN really was trying to "steal" the 2008 election through voter fraud and that it caused the sub-prime crisis by advocating against housing policies that discriminate against people of color--are true. They seem to believe that because ACORN employees acted improperly, that means outlawing housing discrimination based on race caused the economic meltdown and voter fraud is a real problem.

Neither of those things are true, but they do point to the real reason the right hates ACORN, and it's not because of their past issues with embezzlement, or misbehaving employees. It's because they try to look out for the interests of people the right likes to blame for the nation's problems.

-- A. Serwer

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