Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Because freedom can't blog itself

Here's one to add to your RSS readers, folks, the ACLU's new blog.

I, for one, have been a big fan of the ACLU for many years now. There is nothing I can think of that is more honestly American than agressively defending the protections offered to all Americans by the Bill of Rights.

Yes, sometimes that means standing up for the rights of people with truly reprehensible attitudes--the bigots, the racists, and worse--when they are guilty of nothing more than expressing their own beliefs. But if the worst of us don't have these rights too, then these rights mean nothing.

It's worth saying again: there is nothing more American than fighting for the universal applicability of our rights to speak, assemble, protest, bear arms, be secure in our homes, and all the rest. Nothing. That's patriotism.

Thus I am often shocked that those who claim most loudly and stridently to be true patriots--right wingers--are the ones who slander the ACLU with the the most baseless labels and accusations. Calling it a "pinko commie" organization, equating the demand for Habeas Corpus rights for detained terrorism suspects with being terrorist sympathizers and enablers, and so on.

And you know what? For all I know, Hamdan and everybody else at Guantanamo may actually be guilty of participating in terrorist acts against the United States. Without a fair trial, how should I know? But those detainees still deserve to see a lawyer, to know the charges against them, and to have all the other rights of due process that honest Americans can be so proud of. So when the Military Commissions Act came along, you know the ACLU was right there to stand up and say "This isn't right. This isn't American."

It is, in fact, almost trivial to predict where the ACLU will stand on any issue: if one of the two sides amounts to a rehash of Orwell's classic line "all animals are created equal, but some are more equal than others," then you can bet the ACLU will be on the side of those deemed to be 'less equal.' And I wouldn't have it any other way.

"A republic, madam, if you can keep it." Benjamin Franklin is widely believed to have said something like this to a woman who asked, after the Constitutional Convention, what sort of government the United States now had. The ACLU is all about keeping our republic. Keeping it true to the underlying values of freedom and fairness on which our republic was founded. That, my friends, is real patriotism.

The ACLU has a long track record of doing admirable work in this arena, with accomplishments almost too numerous to mention. Whether it's fighting bad drug policy, advocating for LGBT rights, shining light on abusive police practices, or yes, defending the Bill of Rights, the ACLU is there looking out for each and every one of us. I wish them every success with their new blog, and encourage NPI's readers to give the ACLU's blog a look. I know I will be, as I'm sure it will develop into an excellent primary resource for staying informed on the status of those rights which make us uniquely American.


Blogger Phil said...

Name the last case the ACLU took to promote the freedom of school aged children to practice their religion (aka: pray silently, by themselves) or gather in small groups on school grounds, after school hours like any other group.


Name the last case the ACLU has taken to help a law abiding citizen who has had their right to keep and bear arms violated by a local, state or federal government body.

The first and second amendments, top and next to the top of the list, easy enough to find that even ACLU members could have done so, are not included in their list of rights that deserve defending.

For the record, when law abiding citizens in New Orleans were forcibly disarmed by roving bands of law enforcement officers, to the point where grandmothers were taken to the hospital for injuries received, the ACLU sat silently while the NRA took the case to court.

BTW, every court which has heard this case has sided with the citizens and the NRA and not with the shameful City of New Orleans, who was refusing to both return the firearms they stole or pay the fines the court had imposed.

The city seems to think it can appeal its way out of punishment for abusing the civil rights of citizens.

You can take your ACLU and stuff them where the sun doesn't shine.

Hope you have room for them up there.

May 21, 2008 6:05 PM  
Blogger Jason Black said...

Re: 1st Amendment and religion--surely you're aware that the larger issue there is avoiding state sponsorship of religion. A public school, being a state institution, is forbidden from engaging in or permitting all sorts of religious acts. Of course, it sounds like you'll take scant comfort in the knowledge that while Little Johnny and Suzie might not be allowed to after-school Bible study club meetings on school property, neither will little Ibrahim and Azziza be allowed to Koran study club meetings there either. Fair's fair, Phil. Like it or not, because a school is funded through taxes, it has to be declared a religion-free zone. As there are any number of alternatives to public school for those who feel that they really can't go from 8:00 AM to 3:30 PM without expressing their religion, and as no one is forced to attend public school in lieu of these alternatives, arguments that the religion-free nature of public school prevents schoolchildren from excercising their right to worship freely strike me as spurious.

RE: 2nd Amendment--Or, Phil, it could just be that the ACLU has a different--and yet, surprisingly reasoned and un-emotional--interpretation of what the 2nd amendment right actually is. An interpretation, by the way, that follows Supreme Court precedent. See for details.

May 22, 2008 3:12 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home