Exclusive: Land of the Free…For Now

by TOM MCLAUGHLIN September 24, 2009
Constitution Day was approaching and I’d gotten a memo encouraging teachers to recognize it in some way. It was to be observed exactly a week after Andrew Breitbart broke the ACORN scandal on his brand new web site: BigGovernment.com. I’m charged with teaching U.S. History since 1900, weaving in civics, economics, geography and current events, so I try to include as many of those themes as possible when planning lessons.
 
“Open your books to page 872,” I said. “This is the U.S. Constitution – the supreme law of the land, our design for government. Whenever you say ‘This is a free country,’ you are correct only because of this document.”
 
Then I explained how Congress is divided into two parts with each state getting two Senators and House members according to how many people they have. “Look down to the bottom of the page where it says Article I, Section 2, number 3. I’d like somebody to read that part while the rest follow along.”
 
A girl volunteered. “Representatives shall be apportioned among the several states which may be included within this Union,” she read, “according to their respective numbers. The actual enumeration shall be made within three years after the first meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent term of 10 years, in such manner as they shall by law direct.”
 
After thanking her, I explained that Congress directed the Commerce Department to conduct a census – count everybody - every 10 years, and they had contracted with an organization called ACORN (Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now) to do much of the work.
 
“However,” I said, “ACORN is in trouble.” I showed them video from BigGovernment.com in which a young man of 25 and a young woman of 20 posed as a pimp and a prostitute, respectively, and were getting help from ACORN officials in Baltimore to help them set up house of prostitution with underage, illegal alien girls. I explained what a prostitute and a pimp were, although they seemed to know already. “ACORN says it has fired the two women in the video [who were helping]” I explained, “claiming it was an isolated incident.”
 
The next day, BigGovernment.com released another video of the same young people getting help from ACORN officials in Washington, D.C. I showed them that one too. “ACORN fired them also. This huge organization has received more than $50 million in taxpayer money to help people get housing and other things and are supposed to receive up to $8.5 billion as part of President Obama’s stimulus bill. President Obama worked for ACORN when he was a lawyer in Chicago, and his campaign paid them at least $800,000 last year to help get people out to vote for him. This is very embarrassing.”
 
Over the weekend, a huge crowd gathered in Washington, D.C. to protest what the president and Congress have been doing lately, and what they are planning – including changes in how Americans get healthcare. BigGovernment.com released still another videotape showing ACORN officials in New York City offering to help the same two young people set up a house of prostitution and avoid paying taxes. After showing them that video and images of the demonstration, I told them the U.S. Census Bureau had fired ACORN.
 
“James O’Keefe, 25, and Hannah Giles, 20 – not much older than you are – have embarrassed the president and shaken up government. Where do they get the right to do that?” I asked, knowing their English teacher had recently given them a copy of the Bill of Rights with a writing assignment.
 
“The First Amendment,” said a boy.
 
“Good,” I said. “What in the First Amendment gives them that right?”
 
“Freedom of speech,” he said.
 
“Very good. James and Hannah believed ACORN was a corrupt organization and set out to prove it. Big TV networks and newSpapers ignored what they found but Andrew Breitbart gave them publicity on his web site and Fox News picked it up. That publicity is forcing government to act.
 
“Turn to page 884 and follow along while I recite Amendment One: ‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, nor prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for a redress of grievances.’”
 
“That last right is what a million people exercised Saturday outside the White House and the CapitolBuilding where Congress meets – peaceably assembling and petitioning government with their grievances.” I pointed out that people in Iran were speaking and marching against their government too, but they were being gassed, beaten and shot. Iran doesn’t have a Constitution like ours.
 
On Monday and Tuesday, I showed them two more videos BigGovernment.com released showing ACORN officials in two California cities helping James and Hannah, and reported that the U.S. Senate and the US House both voted overwhelmingly to cut off federal money to ACORN.
 
“These are example of what people - even very young people – have freedom to do under the U.S. Constitution,” I said.
 
Family Security Matters Contributing Editor Tom McLaughlin Tom is a history teacher and a regular weekly columnist for newspapers in Maine and New Hampshire. He writes about political and social issues, history, family, education and Radical Islam. E-mail him at tommclaughlin@fairpoint.net.

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