Racism and re­al­ity: ACORN leader shifts from apolo­gies to de­nial

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - By Joe Curl

Bertha Lewis is all done with apolo­gies.

Fresh off her ACORN Apol­ogy Tour, the group’s CEO on Oct. 6 kicked of her new De­nial Tour, charg­ing that nearly ev­ery ac­cu­sa­tion lodged against the em­bat­tled com­mu­nity or­ga­niz­ing group in re­cent weeks is not only false but down­right racist.

And for good mea­sure, she threw in for­mer Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush’s ad­viser Karl Rove, arch vil­lain and long­time whip­ping boy of lib­er­als na­tion­wide.

“For many years, there’ve been folks who’ve dis­agreed with our ide­ol­ogy or method­ol­ogy that has gone af­ter us,” Mrs. Lewis said in a speech at the Na­tional Press Club in Wash­ing­ton.

“I mean we, back go­ing to 2004, we now see through emails from Karl Rove from the pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tion that ACORN it­self was tar­geted, tar­geted to go af­ter us so that we would stop do­ing voter regis­tra­tion be­cause it was said that we were mov­ing too many mi­nori­ties to vote, chang­ing the power dy­nam­ics on the lo­cal elec­tion and that we needed to be stopped.”

She also la­beled as racist the film­maker of the re­cent vi­ral YouTube videos, which show work­ers from ACORN — the As­so­ci­a­tion of Com­mu­nity Or­ga­ni­za­tions for Re­form Now — ad­vis­ing a man and a young woman pos­ing as pimp and pros­ti­tute how to cir­cum­vent the law.

“Th­ese new film­mak­ers, [James] O’Keefe him­self, told The Wash­ing­ton Post: ‘They’re reg­is­ter­ing too many mi­nori­ties, they usu­ally vote Demo­cratic, some­body’s got to stop them,’ “ Mrs. Lewis said.

Even though at one point she quoted her grand­mother as jok­ingly telling her, “Don’t let facts get in the way ‘cuz I’ve al­ready made up my mind,” the for­mer the­ater pro­ducer failed to men­tion that the news­pa­per was forced to is­sue a cor­rec­tion on the story, say­ing Mr. O’Keefe never said any­thing of the kind.

The speech in the First Amend­ment Lounge on the club’s 13th floor was proof of just how fast the hottest story in Wash­ing­ton can be­come yes­ter­day’s news. The 75 or so chairs set out for the event were about 60 too many. Judg­ing from the peo­ple scrib­bling in note­books, there were about a dozen re­porters. On one side of the small room sat a hand­ful of peo­ple, who, if one woman’s re­peated out­bursts of “Amen!” were any in­di­ca­tion, could be deemed Lewis sup­port­ers.

Af­ter a su­perla­tive self-in­tro­duc­tion — “I’m Bertha Lewis and some of you may know me as the big­gest threat to democ­racy in Amer­ica” — she went on to make an­other grand charge about a vast right-wing con­spir­acy.

The Repub­li­can Na­tional Com­mit­tee “ev­ery sin­gle day, be­cause we’ve been in­flated as the bo­gey­man, raises al­most $2 mil­lion a day, ev­ery day. And this form of mod­ern-day ACORN McCarthy­ism has got to stop. Last week, mem­bers of Congress were asked: ‘Are you now, or have you ever been, a mem­ber of ACORN?’ Ev­ery­body should take pause at that. Ev­ery­body should say, ‘Wait a minute!’ Wait . . . a . . . minute!’ “ she said, ges­tic­u­lat­ing broadly.

“Again, an al­le­ga­tion, and spec­u­la­tion, and sort of stretch­ing — you put two peas to­gether and de­cide that you’re go­ing to come up with a turnip,” Mrs. Lewis said when asked about one charge lodged against the group.

Hav­ing pros­trated her­self be­fore the main­stream me­dia and lib­er­als on Capi­tol Hill af­ter the in­fa­mous videos ap­peared, Mrs. Lewis has moved on to the next stage of dam­age con­trol — de­nial.

“Again, an al­le­ga­tion, and spec­u­la­tion, and sort of stretch­ing — you put two peas to­gether and de­cide that you’re go­ing to come up with a turnip,” Mrs. Lewis said when asked about one charge lodged against the group. “This is spec­u­la­tion, com­pletely false,” she said of an­other ac­cu­sa­tion.

Now, she just has to win back sup­port in Congress, where the House last month voted 345 to 75 to bar all fed­eral funds to ACORN. Af­ter a decade of charges that the group played fast and loose with the rules in voter sign-up drives — ACORN has ad­mit­ted that some of its vol­un­teers sub­mit­ted fake or du­pli­cate voter reg­is­tra­tions to state boards in Colorado, In­di­ana, Ne­vada and North Carolina — the pimp video was the last straw for many law­mak­ers.

But Mrs. Lewis said, “This whole vot­ing to de-fund ACORN, it’s all sen­sa­tional, but it’s un­con­sti­tu­tional.”

Still, if the mil­lions of dol­lars in tax­payer funds dry up, the CEO vowed the group can — and will — stay afloat.

“If we lose that money, as long as there’s one ACORN mem­ber who’s will­ing to have a meet­ing in their house or one church that al­lows us to have a meet­ing in their base­ment, we will go on,” she said.

Joseph Curl can be reached at jcurl@wash­ing­ton­times.com.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.