Tuesday, September 15, 2009

ACORN, News, and Business as Usual

ACORN's made mistakes - most recently, giving dubiously useful advice to a couple posing as a pimp and a prostitute planning to set up a brothel with underage Hispanic girls. (San Bernardino County Sun)

It's gotten so bad that the U.S. Census decided to say they won't be using ACORN's help. (Examiner.com)

Reporting ACORN, Haditha, Westward Venture, Global Patriot

ACORN's chronic lapses in ethics - and common sense - do get in the news, but it's nowhere near as easy to find out what the advocacy group (or grassroots community organization, or whatever) has put its foot in, as it has been to find references to the Westward Venture and Global Patriot incidents. And, of course, that perennial favorite, Abu Ghraib.

It's tempting to feel that any and all reports of ACORN naughtiness are 'lies' - after all, it wouldn't be right (by some standards) to criticize a group whose aim is to defend the oppressed and disadvantaged. I think that's a sort of updated retread of the old 'my country right or wrong' or 'America, love it or leave it' attitude that we were taught to despise in conservatives.

When it's applied to a bunch that says it's protecting an oppressed minority, of course, 'it's different.'

But ignoring chronic ethical lapses simply doesn't make sense. Particularly for those who support the publicly-proclaimed ideals and goals of a shifty group.

Not that mainstream, traditional, news outfits have been suppressing the story. The New York Times, for example, had an article about the U. S. Census Bureau cutting ties with ACORN. In their politics section. On September 11, 2009.

Yes, ACORN Coverage - Or Lack of it - Does Relate to the War on Terror

ACORN is, I think, essentially a political organization: making sure that people, living and dead, vote in a particular way.

I have no problem with organizations pursuing political goals. Democracy is messy, but it does, I think, help ensure that a wide range of ideas get considered. On the other hand, I do draw the line at voting the graveyard. To the best of my knowledge, the right to vote does not extend beyond the grave.

Although the Supreme Court may have decided otherwise.

The problem I have with ACORN - or, rather, with the decided reticence with which traditional news media treats the organization's shortcomings - is what I perceive as preferential reporting.

An American "warship" like the Global Patriot fires on boat whose crew acts like they're starting a suicide run - it's international news, with "US admits killing Egyptian in Suez Canal" and "All men are not equal" headlines. (April 7, 2008)

A minority-rights group tells what they have every reason to believe is a pimp and a prostitute how to get away with opening and running an underage brothel - it's "Census Bureau Drops Acorn From 2010 Effort" - in a back section, on the anniversary of 9/11.

I don't think it's 'some kinda plot' - but I do think that "all the news we feel like printing" is the working motto of many if not most of America's traditional news outfits. They're not, in my view, trying to be biased.

But old-school journalists may not be aware of the profound changes which have taken place since Woodstock: and have affected the world outside Berkeley, Amherst, Boulder and downtown Manhattan. They certainly don't seem eager to publish information that would embarrass an organization with 'relevant' goals.

America, for the time being, is a republic with a strong tradition of democracy. Like it or not, what 'the people' think and feel makes a difference in foreign policy. And that make a difference - a huge one - in what happens in the war on terror.

And, who gets elected makes a difference. Which means that the behavior of advocacy groups like ACORN matters.

And it matters, if American journalism's old guard is trying to be nice and polite about ACORN's boo-boos.

I know this sounds corny: but facts matter; and the truth is important. Even if it doesn't feel good.

Related posts: In the news:

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.