Barack Obama’s favorite advocacy organization, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), is part political group, part crime syndicate and part urban terrorist organization, according to a stunning new book, “Subversion Inc.,” by award-winning investigative journalist Matthew Vadum.
Vadum, senior editor at Capital Research Center, a think tank that studies left-wing advocacy groups and their funders, has assembled the information from nearly three years of research and hundreds of interviews, in the project.
He documents how ACORN’s sinister motives, however, never stopped Obama from supporting the organization. Obama organized its voter drives, represented it in court, trained its activists, and mentored its leaders. In fact, ACORN was so important to Obama that during the 2008 presidential campaign he felt compelled to reassure ACORN officials that he was still a steadfast ally.
“I’ve been fighting alongside ACORN on issues you care about my entire career. Even before I was an elected official, when I ran Project Vote voter registration drives in Illinois, ACORN was smack dab in the middle of it, and we appreciate your work,” he said at the time.
The book reveals that much of the time ACORN operates outside the legitimate political process, waging war against America’s free institutions. The book explains that as ACORN is in the business of subverting the American system, what Americans saw on the celebrated undercover “pimp and pro” videos released in 2009, in which various ACORN operatives apparently aligned themselves with a purported pimp looking to set up a prostitution ring of underage girls, was just another day at the office at the nation’s most infamous pressure group.
But the darkest side of ACORN has remained largely unexplored – until this book’s arrival.
ACORN, which until it filed bankruptcy last year was America’s largest poor people’s group, was founded on political violence and intimidation, it explains.
The documentation reveals ACORN grew out of another notorious group called the National Welfare Rights Organization (NWRO). NWRO was founded in 1966 – the same year Marxist academics Richard Cloward and Frances Fox Piven’s seminal article “The Weight of the Poor” was published in the Nation magazine.
The book reports:
The so-called Cloward-Piven Strategy called for activists to double America’s welfare rolls in order to destabilize the American system of government. Placing impossible demands on states and localities would force them to ask Congress for a guaranteed annual income scheme and set in motion the transformation of America into a socialist state.
NWRO grew out of the organizing efforts of Cloward, Piven, and Rules for Radicals author Saul Alinsky, the father of modern community organizing.
In the late 1960s Wade Rathke signed on as an organizer for NWRO’s chapter in Springfield, Mass. A few months after arriving, Rathke had built up a local empire of activism. The chapter secured millions of dollars from the local welfare agency and encouraged hundreds of non-members to seek welfare benefits.
NWRO also was doing its best to swamp welfare departments nationwide. Between December 1960 and February 1969 the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) welfare program had grown 107 percent but in the 15-month period from February 1969 through October 1970 the program grew a staggering 55 percent as an extra 1.5 million families joined the rolls.
Rathke was arrested after he led an invasion of the Springfield welfare office with 250 or more women and students armed with signs reading “More for the poor, less for the war.” The welfare director refused to give in to the crowd’s demands for winter clothing, benefits to which they were not entitled.
But the book reveals that provoked two days of unrest in which millions of dollars of property was destroyed. The Soviet government used Rathke’s riot as anti-American propaganda, publishing an article about it in Pravda. Rathke’s experiences “reinforced his belief that one important resource for poor people was their ability to disrupt.” He realized that despite the failure of the action to achieve its objective, his followers felt empowered by violence directed against the system.
This empowerment by rioting became a staple of ACORN’s playbook.
Meanwhile, over time Rathke came to agree with Alinsky that single-issue organizations were doomed to fail. A multifaceted approach was needed to radically transform the nation. Rathke moved to Little Rock, Ark., and got down to work trying to turn the Natural State upside-down. ACORN was born with Rathke in place as its chief organizer, a position he was to hold for almost 40 years.