ACORN faces violence, threats

ACORN FACES VIOLENCE, THREATS…. Just think, a few weeks ago, ACORN was just a non-profit organization that helped register low-income Americans to vote.

That was before McCain/Palin needed a “base mobilization strategy.” Now, agitated right-wing activists have been led to believe, thanks to Republican rhetoric and Fox News, that this non-profit organization is threatening the “fabric of democracy.”

The line between the confused, uninformed, and enraged Republican base and an angry mob has been blurred even further.

An ACORN community organizer received a death threat and the liberal activist group’s Boston and Seattle offices were vandalized Thursday, reflecting mounting tensions over its role in registering 1.3 million mostly poor and minority Americans to vote next month.

Attorneys for the Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now were notifying the FBI and the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division of the incidents, said Brian Kettenring, a Florida-based spokesman for the group.

Republicans, including presidential candidate John McCain, have verbally attacked the group repeatedly in recent days, alleging a widespread vote-fraud scheme, although they’ve provided little proof. It was disclosed Thursday that the FBI is examining whether thousands of fraudulent voter-registration applications submitted by some ACORN workers were part of a systematic effort or isolated incidents.

Kettenring said that a senior ACORN staffer in Cleveland, after appearing on television this week, got an e-mail that said she “is going to have her life ended.”

A female staffer in Providence, R.I., got a threatening call from someone who said words to the effect of “We know you get off work at 9,” then uttered racial epithets, he said. […]

The incidents came the day after McCain charged in the final presidential debate that ACORN’s voter-registration drive “may be perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history” and may be “destroying the fabric of democracy.”

Did McCain, Palin, and other Republicans call on their activists to commit acts of violence and make racial attacks? Of course not. But when someone in McCain’s position starts accusing a non-profit organization of literally threatening democracy, and when his campaign has done little but rely on hate, fear, and ignorance to get ahead, these results aren’t too terribly surprising.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.