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Friday, September 25, 2009

In a World of Gray: the ACORN Fiasco is Black and White

It was disturbing if not surprising that earlier in the week ACORN filed suit against James O'Keefe, Hannah Giles, and Andrew Breitbart. The videos the first two shot and the third put on his web site have sent the group into a tailspin. They are desperate and they are lashing out.

I saw Hannah Giles on the Fox News show Red Eye a couple weeks back. She told the host, Greg Gutfeld, that she never dreamed that the folks at ACORN would ever take her up on her offer to give tax advice to hide her "job" as a prostitute. I found this assertion to be a bit diplomatic and disingenuous. After all, if she didn't think that ACORN was corrupt, she wouldn't have shown up in their office on a sting to root out corruption. She had an instinct. She followed through on that instinct and she exposed some really bad behavior.

ACORN, meanwhile, immediately dug its heels in. They initially lashed out at the filmmakers. They tried to marginalize them. They lashed out at Fox News, which helped drive the story. They did everything but accept any responsibility for the tapes. As soon as the tapes came out, ACORN must have known that their entire operation was threatened. They began doing everything to make sure that ACORN wouldn't disintegrate.

Worse yet, ACORN often defended itself by pointing to all the good works it does: foreclosure prevention, health care for poor, tax services, etc. There's nothing worse than when a group or individual minimizes bad behavior by pointing to the good works they do. How many times did you hear someone defend Reverend Wright by saying he did a lot in the community? That's what ACORN was doing here.

Then, when the media offensive had little effect, ACORN really got desperate. They sued. This is another standard defense for the guilty. If you don't like the message, you shoot the messenger. Of course, in this case, Giles, O'Keefe, and Breitbart all need lawyers. That costs money, it causes stress, and ultimately no matter how strong your case there's always a sense of unknown in our legal system. So, while suing has some stragegic value, it also has real human costs.

In the first season of 24, Jack Bauer described the slippery slope of not doing the right thing.

You can look the other way once, and it's no big deal, except it makes it easier for you to compromise the next time, and pretty soon that's all your doing; compromising, because that's the way you think things are done. You know those guys I busted? You think they were the bad guys? Because they weren't, they weren't bad guys, they were just like you and me. Except they compromised... Once.

That's the problem for ACORN. They did the wrong thing once and then again, and soon, that's all they were doing. The problem with doing the wrong thing is that you have to do other wrong things to perpetrate the first wrong thing. Soon, all you're doing is the wrong thing. That's the moral dilemma that Jack understood. It's the position that ACORN is in now. They are rotten to the core, and in order to survive, they have to do everything possible to hide their rotten nature. Their rotten nature was exposed by the video, but by then they had compromised too much.

That's the position that the O'Keefe, Giles and Breitbart found themselves in when confronting ACORN. They exposed them long after the group had compromised so much that they didn't know anything else. It was too late for ACORN to do the right thing. All they could do was cover up for the bad they had already done. In the process, they also had to take down the three as well. It wasn't about right and wrong but survival.

The world is full of gray, but not in this case. In this case, there are clear good guys and clear bad guys. O'Keefe, Giles, and Breitbart were acting as enterprising journalists and entrepeneurs and their ultimate agenda was to bring the truth to light. ACORN's ultimate agenda was to subvert the truth. Each one of all their actions reflected their guiding agendas. One side was set on the path of good and the other on the path of bad.


Anonymous said...

Now who will fight Wells "ghetto loan" Fargo?

Anonymous said...

..and "Mussolini made the trains run on time."