Thursday, August 21, 2014
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The last word on ACORN*

The last word on ACORN*

 

I put an asterisk on the headline because whenever I say it's the last word on a subject, it never is. The post I wrote last week on ACORN got a large response, as I expected -- and I wanted to follow up with one clarification and also a question for those who continue to see this anti-poverty agency as Public Enemy No. 1.

First, the clarification: As several posters kindly pointed out over the weekend, there is indeed a problem with an article from the Washington Post that's linked near the end of the post. There's also a problem with me, in that I made a mistake that I should have known better after all these years, in trusting the Washington Post! I was actually aware that their story on James O'Keefe had a correction -- it's right on top of the version that I linked to -- but I also mistakenly thought the Post did what the Daily News and every other newspaper does when there's a correction, which is to fix the actual body of the article online. Reading the correction and the article again, it doesn't look like they did that, or they did a lousy job of it. So now I've gone back myself and removed the paragraph in question, with a note.

Ironically, there was really no reason for me to include that paragraph anyway -- the whole reason for linking the passage was this quote from O'Keefe that is disputed by no one, in which he said "Politicians are getting elected single-handedly due to this organization."  Several commenters claimed over the weekend that the fact that the Washington Post article had a correction delegitimized the entire post -- nothing could be further from the truth. The corrected passage deals with the issue of race, something that wasn't at all the point of my post and isn't even addressed elsewhere. My still-valid point was that O'Keefe and his supporters want to take down ACORN is not because it's failing in its mission -- fighting poverty and increasing voter participation -- but because they don't want it to succeed. As for the confusion over the Washington Post link, the policy here at Attytood is always to correct and clarify and to keep the discussion going forward -- this note would have come faster if I didn't follow what I call my "sanity rule" of avoiding Attytood altogether on my weekend, which is Friday and Saturday. If readers want my immediate attention, you can always email me at bunchw@phillynews.com.

Other comments to the post struck me as a lot less valid. Several readers called ACORN "thugs" -- where's the evidence?...and I say this from Philly, where we know a thing or two about thugs -- while a few others perpetrated a myth that O'Keefe and others have helped to spread, that ACORN is getting or was somehow about to get "billions" in federal dollars, a figure that if true (the actual number is $53 million over 15 years, or little more than $3 million a year on average) would have placed it on a par with the fraudsters who don't get the same anger from the right, such as Halliburton or Blackwater/Xe .

I guess my question for people is that if ACORN isn't up to the job of fighting housing and banking discrimination, helping everyday people deal with foreclosure issues or trying to increase voter participation in urban areas, then what is to be done about these problems?

Someone asked me in the comments what my opinion is about Congress voting to defund ACORN. I think it would have been more responsible -- rather than racing to satisfy Fox News in a matter of hours -- to take a stance like the one that Bank of America just announced. Investigate, push for reforms, and suspend funding until those reforms come about. That is common sense, which seems to be in short supply these days. 

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Will Bunch
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