05 February 2010

Nut vs. ACORN

The latest begging letter to reach my mailbox came in an adorable pink envelope inscribed with the message, "I need your immediate help!" It's from Hannah Giles, who was the recently-arrested James O'Keefe's collaborator in the series of expose videos that revealed ACORN employees offering tax advice and other tips to a self-styled pimp and prostitute. Giles takes credit for Congress's likely denial of ACORN's eligibility for federal funding, which she describes as "a mortal blow to this corrupt and evil" organization. That description sets the tone for Giles's account of her own legal plight, now that "ACORN wants revenge."

Giles has been sued by ACORN employees in Baltimore and Philadelphia. While objective accounts of these suits report that the plaintiffs object to being recorded without their consent, Giles represents them as personal-damages suits demanding compensation for damaged reputations and "mental anguish." Whatever the merit of these suits, the significant point, which Giles duly acknowledges, is that the Baltimore suit, at least (her letter was probably written before the Philadelphia suit was filed last month), has been dropped because the plaintiffs haven't served her with the proper papers. That fact doesn't stop her from asking for contributions to her legal defense fund.

Referring to the Baltimore plaintiffs, Giles writes that "they're holding this threat over my head and can sue me at the drop of a hat whenever they want for the next 2 years." As if anticipating the Philadelphia suit, she notes that "ACORN is talking to district attorneys around the country trying to convince them to go after me criminally, which would mean lengthy legal battles all over the country with a chance that I would go to jail. Liberal defenders of ACORN want to investigate me and put me behind bars...but they want to let ACORN walk away scot-free!" [emphasis in the original]

So just in case someone sues her, though she may never see a day in court, Giles begs for contributions to her legal defense fund, which is identified on the return envelope as "A Project of Liberty Legal Institute." This Texas-based group made a brief appearance on the national stage when they sued for the suspension of the state of Alaska's investigation of the "Troopergate" scandal involving then-Governor Palin. Their main mandate seems to be to defend religious freedom, which in this context means the right of the Religious Right to express controversial views. This is relevant information for prospective donors to the Giles defense fund, since this disclaimer appears on the bottom of the donation form:

Liberty Legal Institute's policy is to apply all charitable gifts given toward a specific legal case to that case. Occasionally, we receive more contributions than can be wisely used toward a specific case -- when that happens, we use these funds to defend the Constitutional rights of other groups or individuals.

In the Giles case, Liberty Legal may receive about 100% more than they can wisely use toward Giles's defense, since it's very possible that she'll never see a day in court. In effect, any donation to Giles could well become Liberty Legal's to use however they please, in the struggle against ACORN or otherwise. Depending on what prospective plaintiffs do, the Giles fund may prove no more than a sympathetic pink facade for Liberty Legal's own fundraising activities.

Giles's agenda and Liberty Legal's aren't necessarily the same. Giles is singlemindedly focused, at least on the evidence of this letter, on a jihad against ACORN, "a bad organization that was corrupting America through massive voter fraud" before she came along. ACORN workers are "the irreplaceable 'shock troops' of the left that they must have to wage war against mainstream America and our way of life." In her view, ACORN continues the evil work of the great satan Saul Alinsky, "Obama's intellectual mentor" who "advised the left to use brass knuckle 'street tactics' to seize power." For that we have to take Giles's word, since she sees no need to cite any actual damning words from Rules for Radicals. Worse yet, she reports, ACORN precipitated the present financial crisis through its "involvement in mortgage rackets for unqualified borrowers."

At age 20, Giles is precociously gifted with delusions of grandeur. Just as she imagines her videotapes saving the nation from evil, she sees the wounded monster dedicating all its dark power to her destruction. "ACORN must make an example of me," she writes, "They know they must destroy me if they are to survive." To date, the evil ones have mounted a multifront attack. They have called her racist. They have made harassing phone calls to her home. Some callers have even threatened her, though those threats are "so disturbing I don't want to share them with you." But Giles assures us that she knows Brazilian ju-jitsu (what, no guns?) and "with a few sensible precautions, I don't think these cowards will show themselves."

I probably should remind readers that I have no interest in defending ACORN from the charges raised by Giles and O'Keefe's videos. I don't doubt that in making community organizing a paying proposition, the organization attracts corrupt people. I also question whether the videotaped employees have a real case against Giles, since I don't know the legal circumstances in Maryland or Pennsylvania. But Giles's account of events is a hysterical exaggeration of her own historical significance and the stakes involved in her possible legal struggles. Her appeal for personal support is really nothing more than a fundraising effort for reactionary lawyers and propaganda. Maybe Giles sees herself as the Joan of Arc of movement conservatism, but wouldn't she have to arrange her own martyrdom to play that role in full? The solution to that problem is to portray herself as a martyr already, before a single torch is lit. But you never know; Joan's greatest usefulness for France may have come after her death, and it may serve some larger interest if Giles does suffer. If I were her, I'd watch how this money is spent.


Anonymous said...

The fact that the "right" has to stoop to such tactics as they have against ACORN tells me that this battle is really just another front of the conservative/liberal war. The fact that this silly little strumpet "pretended" to be a prostitute with her "pretend" pimp to elicit some controversial video footage pretty much says that the conservatives are getting desperate to try to make themselves look like the "good guys" and their opponents as evil on par with Satan himself.

hobbyfan said...

Too bad I already named my Weasel of the Week. Ms. Giles would've been a candidate if this had gotten out sooner.

As it is, ACORN is giving nuts everywhere a bad name......