September 18, 2009

From Democracy Now--ACORN Head Bertha Lewis Vows Action on Employee Misconduct, But Warns Group Targeted by “Modern-Day McCarthyism”. The Lou Dobbs, Glenn Becks and other right wing screechers of the world should be so proud. We need a few more Amy Goodmans and a few less of them to cut through the propoganda attacking one of the only groups out there advocating for poor people and minorities that don't have much of a voice in our society.

AMY GOODMAN: The anti-poverty group ACORN is coming under a firestorm of criticism after the group’s workers were caught on camera appearing to offer advice to a pimp and prostitute. The video was a major strike for conservatives, who for years have accused ACORN of voter registration fraud during presidential elections. Republicans are calling for a complete cutoff of all federal funding to the group, which helps poor people fight foreclosures, fix tax problems, and register to vote. We speak with ACORN chief executive Bertha Lewis.


AMY GOODMAN: Yet the video came out, and you had some of your biggest supporters in Congress actually voting against ACORN, saying you shouldn’t get funding, because they were appalled by what they saw. How do you put—


AMY GOODMAN: —these two together?

BERTHA LEWIS: Well, first of all, we are suffering from a modern-day type of McCarthyism. You know, have you now or have you ever been associated with ACORN? This has been repeated in the right-wing Republican echo chamber, that somehow or another we are to be discredited.

We are the largest membership-based community organization of low- and moderate-income people of color, black and brown folks, in this country. We have been around for forty years. We’ve saved thousands of homes. We’ve helped raise the wages of tens of thousands and now hundreds of thousands of people. And also, we have been able to make sure that millions of disenfranchised black and brown folks in this country actually vote and they are actually counted.

So, for us, we know that there is a race element to trying to stop us. I mean, look at what’s happened with Van Jones and Eric Holder and Judge Sotomayor. We know that we have been used as a surrogate to attack President Obama. The teabaggers have had signs with ACORN at teabag parties, and we never even were around or there.

And it’s not going to stop. We understand that. And our work is not going to stop. So, the relative ten percent of our entire funding that would come through the government, sure, we are going to fight back against this, because we know that this is an unfair attack. And it’s been going on from the Republican side and the right-wing side. However, our core work will never stop.

And we know that—being the largest organization of black and brown folks, people of color, in this country, we know that we are a target. But we meet that challenge. And if you were to hear the racist, sexist, just horrible vitriol that are visited on our offices and on the phone, in emails, threats left at our door, hate mail letters sent, you know, it is very clear that people on the right, and Republicans in particular, are very upset that ACORN is effective and that it’s been around for forty years and that we are a powerful organization.

Full transcript at Democracy Now.

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