And given that the Republican party is becoming the party of southern, white fundamentalist Christians, it probably is worth noting again the narrative that has been built around the politically motivated desire to demonize ACORN: a community oriented organization of "thugs" is stealing elections for liberals who want to take the money of hardworking, middle class whites and give it to lazy, good-for-nothing criminal minorities.And I'll also quote from a post I wrote on efforts to demonize the estate tax as a "death tax"
This is a dangerous sort of scapegoating to engage in. As Hunter at Daily Kos has noted, ACORN has come to be the catch-all bogeyman for conservative fears.
Our tax system has been rigged to flow wealth upwards to the richest 1 percent of the country like Niagra Falls in reverse, yet the middle class, feeling the squeeze of an increased tax burden, votes to restore a system of wealth transferance that harkens back to feudal aristocracy. I expect that in the future anthropologists are going to look back on this "Death tax" craze like we look back on witchcraft crazes. Funny thing is those served as a means of redirecting people's attention away from the source of their troubles, too. In the words of anthropologist Marvin Harris:Which gets us to Greenwald's post:The principal result of the witch-hunt system was that the poor came to believe that they were being victimized by witches and devils instead of princes and popes. Did your roof leak, your cow abort, your oats wither, your wine go sour, your head ache, your baby die? It was the work of the witches. Preoccupied with the fantastic activities of these demons, the distraught, alienated, pauperized masses blamed the rampant Devil instead of the corrupt clergy and the rapacious nobility.
This is the paradox of the tea-party movement and other right-wing protests fueled by genuine citizen anger and fear. It is true that the federal government embraces redistributive policies and that middle-class income is seized in order that "someone else benefits." But so obviously, that "someone else" who is benefiting is not the poor and lower classes -- who continue to get poorer as the numbers living below the poverty line expand and the rich-poor gap grows in the U.S. to unprecedented proportions. The "someone else" that is benefiting from Washington policies are -- as usual -- the super-rich, the tiny number of huge corporations which literally own and control the Government. The premise of these citizen protests is not wrong: Washington politicians are in thrall to special interests and are, in essence, corruptly stealing the country's economic security in order to provide increasing benefits to a small and undeserving minority. But the "minority" here isn't what Fox News means by that term, but is the tiny sliver of corporate power which literally writes our laws and, in every case, ends up benefiting.Seen properly, the attack on ACORN are ultimately about giving people a demon to hate, a witch to hunt. And while they're busy doing that, the people who finance the Glenn Becks, Rush Limbaughs, Malkins, O'Keefes and Giles (who will certainly have no difficulty finding employment within conservative movement media) will continue to transform American democracy into a system of plutocracy.
It wasn't the poor or illegal immigrants who were the beneficiaries of the Wall St. bailout; it was the investment banks which, not even a year later, are wallowing in record profits and bonuses thanks to massive taxpayer-funded welfare. The endlessly expanding (and secret) balance sheet of the Federal Reserve isn't going to fund midnight basketball programs or health care for Mexican immigrants but is enabling extreme profiteering by the very people who, just a year ago, almost brought the global economic system to full-scale collapse. Our endless wars and always-expanding Surveillance State -- fueled by constant fear-mongering campaigns against the Latest Scary Enemy -- keep the National Security corporations drowning in profits, paid for by middle-class taxes. And even health-care reform -- which supposedly began with anger over extreme insurance company profiteering at the expense of people's health -- will be an enormous boon to that same industry, as tens of millions of people are forced by the Government to become their customers with the central mechanism to control costs (the public option) blocked by that same industry. That's why those industries are enthusiastically in favor of reform: because, as always, they will benefit massively from it.
This is what is so strange and remarkable about these tea-party protests. The people who win when government acts aren't the poor, minorities or illegal immigrants -- the prime targets of these protesters' resentment. Their plight only worsens by the day. In Washington, members of those groups are even more powerless than "middle-income Americans." That's so obvious. The people who win whenever the federal government expands its power are the ones who, through their massive resources and lobbyists armies, control what the government does: the richest and most powerful corporations. And yet -- in an extreme paradox -- those are the people who are venerated by the Right: they simultaneously spew rage at what's happening in Washington while revering and defending the interests of the oligarchs who are most responsible.