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Are major media making a mistake by failing to join in the current frenzy over the ACORN video? Ken Silverstein thinks so. The public editors of the Washington Post and New York Times think so, too. I disagree. I am happy that some undercover exposé artists attempted to lure ACORN into advising a prostitution operation. Their footage is hysterically funny in parts, and this is a seriously flawed organization that needs some self-examination and reshaping, as Ken and the Washington Post note. ACORN’s strategy of bringing suit against the videotapers is also ill-advised. But the theme on the right is now that ACORN is a threat to democracy and social decency and must be destroyed. Hysterical humor is becoming just clinical hysteria.
I first encountered accusations against ACORN in New Mexico, and I spent a good bit of time tracking them and interviewing FBI agents who had investigated them. Their uniform assessment: there’s nothing there. None of the dramatic, Republican charges about ACORN’s role in voter fraud stood up when investigated. Nevertheless, this emerged as a right-wing political gospel, accepted as unquestioned truth. What was its genesis? Karl Rove settled on the attacks on ACORN over voter fraud as a sort of ultimate wedge issue. He’s worked it tenaciously ever since.
Rachel Maddow and former Republican U.S. Attorney David Iglesias get down to the basics of ACORN fact and ACORN fiction in this interview:
Now ACORN is attacked as a government contractor, and a concerted effort is being made to defund them, all because of on-camera statements some employees made when interviewed by some media jesters. But what about contractors who take down ten thousand times the money that ACORN does, whose wrongdoing includes the death by electrocution of U.S. service personnel? Covering-up the gang rape of an American employee? Shooting seventeen innocent civilians in a case of “spray and pray” in downtown Baghdad? In the view of Congressional Republicans and not a few Democrats, this all seems to fall into the category of “boys will be boys.”
More from Scott Horton:
Six Questions — October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm
Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.
On a Friday evening in January, a thousand people at the annual California Native Plant Society conference in San Jose settled down to a banquet and a keynote speech delivered by an environmental historian named Jared Farmer. His chosen topic was the eucalyptus tree and its role in California’s ecology and history. The address did not go well. Eucalyptus is not a native plant but a Victorian import from Australia. In the eyes of those gathered at the San Jose DoubleTree, it qualified as “invasive,” “exotic,” “alien” — all dirty words to this crowd, who were therefore convinced that the tree was dangerously combustible, unfriendly to birds, and excessively greedy in competing for water with honest native species.
In his speech, Farmer dutifully highlighted these ugly attributes, but also quoted a few more positive remarks made by others over the years. This was a reckless move. A reference to the tree as “indigenously Californian” elicited an abusive roar, as did an observation that without the aromatic import, the state would be like a “home without its mother.” Thereafter, the mild-mannered speaker was continually interrupted by boos, groans, and exasperated gasps. Only when he mentioned the longhorn beetle, a species imported (illegally) from Australia during the 1990s with the specific aim of killing the eucalyptus, did he earn a resounding cheer.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A tourism company in Australia announced a service that will allow users to take the “world’s biggest selfies,” and a Texas man accidentally killed himself while trying to pose for a selfie with a handgun.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”