ACORN’s anti-democratic, un-American activities are not legitimate political advocacy protected by the First Amendment. They cry out for prosecution under federal racketeering laws. [The push for a racketeering probe got a boost in April 2011 when ACORN was convicted in a massive voter fraud conspiracy in Nevada. The felony conviction came after the book had gone to press. -MV]
Former Chicago ACORN leader Madeline Talbott is a master of the bank shakedown. She bragged about “dragging banks kicking and screaming” into questionable loans. Talbott thought highly of Barack Obama’s organizing work in the Windy City and invited him to lecture her staffers. She also led a mob attack on the Chicago City Council during a “living wage” debate. ACORN demonstrators “pushed over the metal detector and table used to screen visitors, backed police against the doors to the council chamber, and blocked late-arriving aldermen and city staff from entering the session.” Six people, including a defiant Talbott, were led away in handcuffs.
Then-Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich had a taste of ACORN’s stormtrooper tactics in 1995, when about 500 ACORN activists took over the Washington Hilton, forcing Gingrich to cancel a speech to 2,500 county commissioners. Demonstrators chanting “Nuke Newt!” grabbed the microphone and commandeered the head table, then cheered when the speech was cancelled.
“ACORN is part of the enforcement wing and the intimidation wing of the left,” Gingrich said in an interview.
Members of ACORN assaulted New York state Sen. James Alesi, a Republican, and his chief of staff, during a raucous 2009 protest. Alesi said an angry mob nearly knocked him to the floor of the chamber and spat in the face of his chief of staff. ACORN was protesting after two Democratic state senators switched parties giving Republicans control of the New York Senate. ACORN’s political party, the Working Families Party, had invested considerable resources in state senate elections in the Empire State. WFP took credit for ending “30 years of right-wing Republican rule” in 2008.
Republican Mike Huckabee is another of many Republican officeholders to be terrorized by ACORN. In 1998, while governor of Arkansas, Huckabee prepared to deliver a speech on civil rights. Like Gingrich he was silenced by hundreds of screaming ACORN activists armed with bullhorns who stormed a Little Rock hotel conference room and drove him away. “They surrounded not only the outer walls, but then, much to the dismay of the state troopers who were with me, they then mounted the stage,” said Huckabee, who cut the speech short and left abruptly. “It was a very tense moment. It was totally unnecessary.”
During the anti-Huckabee demonstration, Johnnie Pugh, head of ACORN’s Arkansas chapter, seized the microphone. “We want justice,” she said. ACORN is “trying to get the bills paid and make a living wage and welfare reform is not working.” ACORN members chanted “The people united will never be defeated,” “Justice for welfare; Huckabee don’t care,” and “We’re fired up; we’re not going to take it no more.” A dozen ACORN activists ran after Huckabee. Some jumped on the governor’s car and pounded on it as others attempted to prevent him from leaving.
When Arkansas State Police investigated to determine if the demonstrators had broken any laws, Pugh called the probe “retaliation” and a “witch hunt.” She even threatened to hit Huckabee again with more in-your-face protests. “The squeaky wheel gets the grease,” she said.
This is hardly an exhaustive list of ACORN’s wrongdoings.
Radicals believe their goals warrant criminal means and “can be relied on to lie, steal votes and justify murder when committed by their political friends . . . because they are engaged in a permanent war whose goal is the salvation of mankind,” according to former radical-turned-conservative David Horowitz. “In this context, restraint of means can easily seem finicky.”
ACORN’s violence inciting techniques still flourish, practiced out in the open by organized labor and countless other radical groups. AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka, an ACORN ally, is unashamedly pro-thuggery. (Trumka is at center in the above photo.) He told members of the United Mine Workers in Illinois to “kick the [expletive] out of every last” worker who violated the sanctity of his picket lines.
The outrageous behavior tolerated by police today would have landed a person in jail earlier in America’s history. Political incitements to riot, which occur almost exclusively on the Left, fail to move law enforcement. Why? Because as a society we have gradually become inured to these evil tactics. It is “defining deviancy down,” to borrow a phrase coined by Daniel Patrick Moynihan to discuss the process by which society grows accustomed to antisocial behavior, rationalizing it away over time and redefining it: “[T]he amount of deviant behavior in American society has increased beyond the levels the community can ‘afford to recognize’ and that accordingly we have been redefining deviancy so as to exempt much conduct previously stigmatized, and also quietly raising the ‘normal’ level in categories where behavior is abnormal by any earlier standard.” Moynihan warned ominously that “we are getting used to a lot of behavior that is not good for us.”
Early twentieth-century Americans were horrified by anarchist and labor union-initiated violence. Many labor organizations at the time were revolutionary terrorist groups. They killed people, incited riots, and fomented rebellion. But over time corporations and governments began to ignore the cardinal rule: don’t negotiate with terrorists.
They took a short-term perspective, deluding themselves into believing they were buying peace by caving in to terrorists’ demands, all in the hope of gaining market share or a few extra votes on Election Day.
The left-wing, pro-radical media has played a role too, lulling Americans into complacency by telling them nothing’s wrong. Leftists using ACORN-style tactics are portrayed as well-intentioned mainstream activists, noble crusaders for social justice who have everyone’s best interest at heart. Activists may get out of hand every once in a while, according to journalists, but they mean well.
Of course when patriotic Tea Party activists, alarmed that America is being transformed into a socialist state by the nation’s Community Organizer-in-Chief, express their well-founded concerns by merely booing a few congressmen and holding protest rallies, the media labels them heel-clicking fascist storm troopers. If there’s one thing the Left cannot tolerate, it is diversity of opinion and freedom of speech.
Americans have become so desensitized to in-your-face protest and shakedown tactics that ACORN’s jackboot activism, which rightly horrified society in past years, hardly registers today. Unless ACORN or its lawless brethren in the so-called progressive movement are wrecking front lawns, obstructing businesses, burning bankers in effigy, or chasing politicians from a stage, such groups are boring to Americans.
Maybe that’s why, in the words of former ACORN national board member Marcel Reid, it took “a half-naked 20-year-old” to spark the nationwide backlash that erupted against the group in 2009. Without the undercover videos masterminded by conservative activists James O’Keefe III and Hannah Giles that showed ACORN employees offering advice on establishing an illegal brothel employing underage Salvadoran girls, Americans’ concern about the group’s persistent lawbreaking might never have reached a fever pitch that forced Congress to defund the group in September 2009, beginning its final slide into bankruptcy.
ACORN was only conducting business as usual, but the videos provided graphic evidence that the group’s business was not only unsavory but illegitimate.Buy the book Subversion Inc.: How Obama's ACORN Red Shirts Are Still Terrorizing and Ripping Off American Taxpayers, which is now available in fine bookstores near you. If you'd like an autographed copy, order it directly from the publisher, WND Books, here.