October 13, 2008

An ACORN For The Teacher

by Jerome du Bois

It's been forty years exactly since my wife Catherine was bused to L.A.'s Watts from her Arizona college to expose her to the "inequities" of the American system. It was part of her freshman "orientation." The social justice dispositions have been around a long time.

She just told me about a passage in James Webb's Born Fighting, an exemplary history of the Scots-Irish, an ethnic group of which she is herself an exemplar: feisty, individualistic, and anti-authoritarian. Webb, a highly decorated Marine of the Vietnam War, was attending Georgetown University's law school. It was 1972.

At Georgetown Law, the overwhelming preponderance of students and faculty came heavily from America's better universities and were clearly among the dissenters [to the Vietnam War]. Years of intellectual conditioning had taught them that the government was corrupt, that the capitalistic system was rapacious, that the military was incompetent and even invidious, and that the WASP culture that had largely built America had done so at the expense of other ethnic and racial groups. To many of them the Vietnam War was largely an extension of a racist, colonialist, capitalist system that had its origins in the evils of slavery and the genocide of Native Americans during the nation's westward expansion. . . . The mood at the law center was outrageously out of step with the rest of America and yet filled with an unbending, adamant certainty. (Pp. 319-20)

That reminded me of an essay by Camille Paglia, "The Nursery-School Campus: The Corrupting of the Humanities in the U.S.," which was published in 1992 in the London Times Literary Supplement. Excerpts:

By the early 1970s, American universities had become top-heavy with full-time administrators who took to speaking of the campus as a "community," which, faculty soon discovered, was governed by invisible codes of acceptable speech, opinions, and behavior. . . The campus is now not an arena of ideas but a nursery school where adulthood can be indefinitely postponed . . . .

The politically correct professors, with their hostility to the "canon" of the great European writers and artists, have done serious damage to the quality of undergraduate education at the best American colleges and universities. Yet they are people without deep beliefs. Real radicals stand for something and risk something; these academics are very pampered fat cats who have never stood on principle at any point in their careers. Nothing has happened to them in their lives. They never went to war; they were never out of work or broke. They have no experience or knowledge of anything outside the university, least of all working-class life. Their politics are a trendy tissue of sentimental fantasy and unsupported verbal categories. Guilt over their own privilege has frozen their political discourse into a simplistic world melodrama of privilege versus deprivation.

Which brings us to the present day, with a widely-quoted excerpt from a recent column by the widely-respected Michael Barone on "The Coming Obama Thugocracy":

Once upon a time, liberals prided themselves, with considerable reason, as the staunchest defenders of free speech. Union organizers in the 1930s and 1940s made the case that they should have access to employees to speak freely to them, and union leaders like George Meany and Walter Reuther were ardent defenders of the First Amendment.

Today's liberals seem to be taking their marching orders from other quarters. Specifically, from the college and university campuses where administrators, armed with speech codes, have for years been disciplining and subjecting to sensitivity training any students who dare to utter thoughts that liberals find offensive. The campuses that used to pride themselves as zones of free expression are now the least free part of our society.

Obama supporters who found the campuses congenial and Obama himself, who has chosen to live all his adult life in university communities, seem to find it entirely natural to suppress speech that they don't like and seem utterly oblivious to claims that this violates the letter and spirit of the First Amendment. In this campaign, we have seen the coming of the Obama thugocracy, suppressing free speech, and we may see its flourishing in the four or eight years ahead.

Who made that recent video of the schoolkids singing "Obama's gonna lead us" in unison? Who created the words, the music, commissioned the t-shirts, organized the presentation? A teacher.

Who made that other recent video of the middle-school boys marching in line, chanting "Alpha-Omega-Alpha-Omega," and reciting "Because of Obama . . ." they're going to realize their dreams? A teacher.

But what does this have to do with the ACORN in my title? For that we turn to Stanley Kurtz.

In a New York Post column, "Spreading The Virus," published today, October 13, Kurtz begins:

To discover the roots of today's economic crisis, consider a tale from 1995.

That March, House Speaker Newt Gingrich was scheduled to address a meeting of county commissioners at the Washington Hilton. But, first, some 500 protesters from the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) poured into the ballroom from both the kitchen and the main entrance.

Hotel staffers who tried to block them were quickly overwhelmed by demonstrators chanting, "Nuke Newt!" and "We want Newt!" Jamming the aisles, carrying bullhorns and taunting the assembled county commissioners, demonstrators swiftly took over the head table and commandeered the microphone, sending two members of Congress scurrying.

The demonstrators' target, Gingrich, hadn't yet arrived --and his speech was cancelled. When the cancellation was announced, ACORN's foot soldiers cheered.

Two days later, at a House Banking subcommittee hearing, which was going to reconsider the Community Reinvestment Act, one of ACORN's major sources of income, ACORN struck again.

ACORN went into action to protect its golden goose.

It struck as Roukema aired her concerns at that hearing. Protesters, led by ACORN President Maud Hurd, stood up and began chanting, "CRA has got to stay!" and "Banks for greed, not for need!" The protesters then demanded the microphone.

With the hearing interrupted and the demonstrators refusing to leave, Roukema called the Capital Police, who arrested Hurd and four others for "disorderly conduct in a Capital building" --a charge carrying a penalty of a $500 fine, six months in prison or both. As the police arrived, two of the protesters menacingly approached Roukema's desk, still demanding the hearing microphone.

Who were these protestors, demonstrators, and foot soldiers? Where did they come from? Why did they think such thuggish tactics were appropriate in a democratic society?

You know my answers already. And who was among those who taught them to behave this way? Barack Obama.

Obama has been a key ally of Chicago ACORN going back to his days as a community organizer.

Later, as a young lawyer, he offered leadership training to the activists who were forcing Chicago banks into high-risk subprime loans. And when he made it on to the boards of Chicago's Woods Fund and the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, he channeled money ACORN's way.

Obama was perfectly aware of ACORN's intimidation tactics --indeed, he oversaw a Woods Fund report that boasted of managing to fund the radical group despite its shocking behavior.

The Obama campaign can deny his involvement with ACORN all day long, but the paper trail is long and detailed, complete with photographs. Check out this piece from Charles Johnson's website, for just one example.

Catherine and I have had to contend with collectivist, anti-American thugs our whole adult lives, including five-plus years on this blog. It's no wonder we're on the outs in this town, whose culturati have been nurtured on liberal fascism by their teachers. But it's not in our natures to give up and give in. No matter who wins in November, we'll continue to hold up the inviolate individual --contentious, skeptical, truth-loving-- against the howling depredations of the mob.

Posted by Jerome at October 13, 2008 02:30 PM | TrackBack