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Big Oaks from Little ACORNs Grow: Karl Rove, White Supremacists and the Forging of a Non-Scandal

Com­ment: With the Bush admin­is­tra­tion hav­ing destroyed the econ­o­my, along with just about every­thing else, the GOP right has been beat­ing the rhetor­i­cal war drums about ACORN. Between the lines, they are imply­ing that the col­lapse of the hous­ing mar­ket and, thus, the finan­cial indus­try was pro­duced by poor blacks and Llati­nos buy­ing homes they could­n’t afford. (Of course, it WASN’T pro­duced by Gold­man  Sachs, Pim­co [stay tuned for upcom­ing pro­grams], Roland Arnall and the oth­er archi­tects of the sub­prime mess.)

As it hap­pens, scape­goat­ing ACORN–and by exten­sion non-white minori­ties and their “lib­er­al enablers”–had much of its gen­e­sis with Karl Rove’s role in fir­ing U.S. attor­ney David Igle­sias of New Mex­i­co. It seems that Igle­sias resist­ed GOP pres­sure to crack down on ACORN, which was reg­is­ter­ing vot­ers.

Much of the right-wing rhetor­i­cal firestorm about ACORN derived from activist James O’Keefe’s “sting,” in which he posed as  a pimp, seek­ing hous­ing for “ho’s.”

James O’Keefe turns out to be a fel­low-trav­el­er of the white suprema­cist move­ment.

“Rove: a Mov­ing Tar­get” by Michael Issikoff;Newsweek; 2007. [1]
New dis­clo­sures in the U.S. attor­ney con­tro­ver­sy have increased the pres­sure on White House aide Karl Rove. Attor­ney Gen­er­al Alber­to Gon­za­les’s ex-chief of staff, D. Kyle Samp­son, tes­ti­fied last week that “dur­ing the run-up to the midterm elec­tions,” the A.G. told him Rove had “com­plained” that David Igle­sias, the U.S. attor­ney in New Mex­i­co, and two oth­er fed­er­al pros­e­cu­tors, were not doing enough to pros­e­cute vot­er fraud—a top GOP pri­or­i­ty. It was short­ly after that, Samp­son said, that Igle­sias got added to the list of U.S. attor­neys to be fired. (Igle­sias told NEWSWEEK he had been repeat­ed­ly pushed by New Mex­i­co GOP offi­cials to pros­e­cute work­ers for ACORN, an activist group that was reg­is­ter­ing vot­ers in minor­i­ty neigh­bor­hoods, but he found no cas­es worth bring­ing.) Jus­tice was also forced to cor­rect its ear­li­er asser­tion that Rove did not play “any role” in replac­ing the U.S. attor­ney in Lit­tle Rock. Samp­son’s e‑mails showed he had described the replace­ment as “impor­tant to ... Karl.”

Sen­ate Judi­cia­ry Com­mit­tee chair Sen. Patrick Leahy warned the White House that even a Gon­za­les res­ig­na­tion would not “short-cir­cuit” his probe, vow­ing to block con­fir­ma­tion hear­ings for any suc­ces­sor unless he gets Rove under oath. (Bush has refused to allow Rove and oth­er White House offi­cials to tes­ti­fy in pub­lic.) White House spokes­woman Dana Peri­no reaf­firmed Bush’s “100 per­cent” back­ing of Gon­za­les, and the A.G. vowed to car­ry on.

The inquiries are only mul­ti­ply­ing. The Office of Spe­cial Coun­sel has begun its own inves­ti­ga­tion into whether Igle­si­as’s dis­missal was a vio­la­tion of both the Hatch Act (which pro­hibits fed­er­al employ­ees from being fired for “polit­i­cal” rea­sons) and a law that bars dis­crim­i­na­tion against mil­i­tary-ser­vice mem­bers, said an offi­cial, anony­mous when talk­ing about an inter­nal mat­ter. Jus­tice offi­cials have at times sug­gest­ed one rea­son Igle­sias was fired is that he spent too much time away from the office because he is in the naval reserves. The agen­cy’s direc­tor, Scott Bloch, recent­ly pledged “aggres­sive” enforce­ment of the law, which is increas­ing­ly impor­tant giv­en the grow­ing num­ber of Nation­al Guard and mil­i­tary reserves called up for ser­vice in Iraq. . . .

“James O’Keefe’s Race Prob­lem” by Max Blu­men­thal; Salon.com; 2/3/2010. [2]

Many of the con­ser­v­a­tives who glee­ful­ly pro­mot­ed James O’Keefe’s past polit­i­cal stunts are feign­ing shock at his arrest on charges that he and three asso­ciates planned to tam­per with Louisiana Sen. Mary Lan­drieu’s phone lines. Once upon a time, right-wing pun­dits hailed [3] the 25-year-old O’Keefe as a cre­ative genius and mod­el of jour­nal­is­tic ethics. Andrew Bre­it­bart, who has paid O’Keefe, called him one of the all-time “great jour­nal­ists” and said he deserved a Pulitzer for his under­cov­er ACORN video. Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly declared he should have earned a “con­gres­sion­al medal.”

His right-wing admir­ers don’t seem to mind that O’Keefe’s short but sto­ried career has been defined by a series of polit­i­cal stunts shot through with racial resent­ment. Now an activist orga­ni­za­tion that mon­i­tors hate groups has pro­duced a pho­to of O’Keefe at a 2006 con­fer­ence on “Race and Con­ser­vatism” that fea­tured lead­ing white nation­al­ists. The pho­to, first pub­lished Jan. 30  on the Web site of the anti-racism group One Peo­ple’s Project [4], shows O’Keefe at the gath­er­ing, which was so con­tro­ver­sial even the ultra-right Lead­er­ship Insti­tute, which employed O’Keefe at the time, with­drew its back­ing. O’Keefe’s fel­low young con­ser­v­a­tive provo­ca­teur Mar­cus Epstein orga­nized the event, which gave anti-Semi­tes, pro­fes­sion­al racists and pro­po­nents of Aryanism an oppor­tu­ni­ty to share their griev­ances and plans to make inroads in the GOP. . .

One Peo­ple’s Project cov­ered the event at the time, send­ing a free­lance pho­tog­ra­ph­er to doc­u­ment the gath­er­ing. Project direc­tor Daryle Jenk­ins told O’Keefe manned a lit­er­a­ture table  filled with tracts from the white suprema­cist right, includ­ing two pseu­do-aca­d­e­m­ic pub­li­ca­tions that have called blacks and Lati­nos genet­i­cal­ly infe­ri­or to whites: Amer­i­can Renais­sance [5] and the Occi­den­tal Quar­ter­ly [6].  The lead­ing speak­er was Jared Tay­lor, founder of the white nation­al­ist group Amer­i­can Renais­sance. “We can say for cer­tain that James O’Keefe was at the 2006 meet­ing with Jared Tay­lor. He has absolute­ly no way of deny­ing that,” Jenk­ins said. O’Keefe’s attor­ney did not respond to a request for com­ment on his clien­t’s role in the con­fer­ence.