Monday, December 18, 2006

The ACLU’s Unsavory Past

When conservative students at the University of Texas recently staged an “ACLU nativity scene,” they portrayed the three Wise Men as Lenin, Marx, and Stalin “because the founders of the ACLU were strident supporters of Soviet style Communism.”

Anybody who thinks this was some sort of right-wing fantasy should read “Freedom in the U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R.” by ACLU founder Roger Baldwin, as it appeared in Soviet Russia Today in 1934.

Here is one memorable passage:
When the power of the working class is once achieved, as it has been only in the Soviet Union, I am for maintaining it by any means whatever. Dictatorship is the obvious means in a world of enemies, at home and abroad. [emphasis in original]
The issue, of course, is whether the ACLU is fundamentally different today.

Yes, support for the old Soviet Union is out of fashion. But the organization is still a group of people moved by their desires to see certain policies implemented and not any broad and disinterested concern for civil liberties. There are a few honorable exceptions (the group has opposed campaign finance reform, for example), but basically, the “civil liberties” rhetoric is hogwash.

Just as it was in 1934.

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