Don't Stop the ACLU

Friday, March 31, 2006

Communists and the ACLU: An "exposé"

The anti-ACLU blogging community is rather fond of attempting to discredit the ACLU by highlighting the organization's communist roots. For a couple of good examples, check out WorldNetDaily and an ongoing series (part two here) at Stop the ACLU. I won't dispute the facts or quotes they provide, because yes, the founders of the ACLU were Communists. What I will take umbrage at is the general tone that these pieces take and what they are implying by mentioning these facts (while omitting several others, I might add) in this context:

1. First there's the attempt to channel Upton Sinclair or Woodward and Bernstein. The authors of these anti-ACLU pieces act as if they're digging up previously unknown facts and bringing to light a major scandal, thus adding a shock value to their attacks. But the information they provide is hardly new, and it happens to be available to the Internet-using public at a certain free online encyclopedia.

2. Didn't this fervently anti-communist mentality die out after Joe McCarthy was neutered and disgraced? As much as many Americans would like to believe, Communists are not the be-all, end-all of evil. In fact, there are still many Americans who are Communists, and they even have their own party, the Communist Party of the United States of America. But they're not the shadowy underground organization they once were. They have a lovely website, located at cpusa.org, where you can read all about their political views and find contact information, including an e-mail address, a mailing address, and a phone number. They're not hiding anymore, so if you really want to find them, there you go. If you take the time to read what they have to say, you'll see that they're patriotic, democracy-loving, socially progressive peaceniks. They just happen to dislike capitalism. Communism should never be confused with totalitarianism, but unfortunately, ACLU haters make this mistake quite often. So go ahead and call the ACLU a bunch of Commies, and call me a Commie if you'd like (even though, FYI, I'm not a Communist). At worst you're calling us idealists.

3. Let's assume that Communists are purely evil and that the ACLU is nothing but a front for just a second. Biased histories of the ACLU will fail to mention that founder Roger Baldwin renounced communism in 1940, and subsequently the ACLU banned all Communists from its leadership. Personally I find this purge far more upsetting and offensive than the fact that the ACLU was founded by Communists in the first place. Fortunately, the organization realized that that policy ran counter to their own ideals, and they abandoned it in 1960. And calling Baldwin a Communist hardly tells his complete story. After directing the ACLU for 30 years, Baldwin went on to oversee civil rights work in post-war Japan, Germany, and Austria and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Jimmy Carter in 1981.

4. But here's the most important point, and it's simply an exercise in logic: the ACLU and communism - and by extension its adherents - are unrelated. The ACLU is concerned entirely with upholding constitutional protections and guarantees, while communism is an economic/political system. Shared views between the ACLU and Communists are coincidental and do not suggest that the two are intrinsically linked.
posted by Maj. M.T. Rational XXXIV at 5:34 PM

7 Comments:

Blogger loboinok said...

"Didn't this fervently anti-communist mentality die out after Joe McCarthy was neutered and disgraced?"

Believing that McCarthy was neutered and disgraced shows a deep liberal mindset steeped in ignorance and revisionist history.

That doesn't surprise me considering your opinion of communism.

As for the "anti-communist mentality" dieing out, absolutely not.


"At worst you're calling us idealists."

Trust me, thats NOT the worst I would call you.


"Biased histories of the ACLU will fail to mention that founder Roger Baldwin renounced communism in 1940,"

If you intend to even try to counter the STOP site, you would do well to read the site, including archives. We haven't "failed" to mention anything regarding Baldwin


"The ACLU is concerned entirely with upholding constitutional protections and guarantees,"

The ACLU is too rife with hypocrisy and contradiction for that to be a credible statement.

March 31, 2006 11:59 PM  
Blogger Nathan Bradfield said...

Capt. Irrational:

If you want to make excuses for minor historical facts about the ACLU's history, go ahead. Even if Baldwin did renounce communism, he is still very much a humanist and socialist, hanging over the line of communism. Socialist thinking is a cancer to this country. It is anti-freedom because its basis is one of big gov't and gov't control. Roger's ideas are now being played out "live" in France, Holland, and Afghanistan. See recent new in those countries for proof: job "security" rioting, loose laws on prostitution and drugs, and nearly executing a Christian convert.

April 02, 2006 3:20 PM  
Blogger Maj. M.T. Rational XXXIV said...

loboinok,

After the "See It Now" saga and the Army-McCarthy hearings, McCarthy's popularity dropped sharply. His disgrace culminated when he was censured by the Senate in 1954. In his last few years, few in the government or media cared about what he had to say.

I only mean that I don't consider someone calling me a Communist to be an insult. Thanks for not resorting to name calling, however. We're better than that.

I haven't checked out the archives, and I'm only basing what I've said on the most recent posts. I'll check out the archives, and if you could provide me with some links I'd appreciate it.

Nathan,

I'm not making excuses; I just think that a full history of Baldwin and the ACLU should include the fact that he renounced communism. Like I said in the post, I think renouncing communism and kicking Communists out of the ACLU was far worse than being a Communist in the first place.

I'm not naive enough to believe that socialism will ever work. Competition is a necessary part of any functional economy. At the same time I wouldn't call socialism anti-freedom. Its plans for government control extend primarily to the economic side of things, not the social side. True socialists are actually quite socially liberal.

April 02, 2006 5:15 PM  
Blogger loboinok said...

"After the "See It Now" saga and the Army-McCarthy hearings, McCarthy's popularity dropped sharply."

McCarthy was exposing communism in our society and government. He was not conducting a "popularity" contest.

Name one other politician, today or then, that could withstand the counter-assault launched by the lib media and hollywierd which eventually sucked in most all of his 'colleagues'. Colleagues of which, not one was able to prove McCarthy's accusations of dozens of communists in the Capital, as false.

After the fall of Russia and the release of Russian archives, nearly ALL of the hundreds of communists he revealed to be operatives in our government was shown to be accurate.

He may have died a drunk but he died being right.

"In his last few years, few in the government or media cared about what he had to say."

I am sure that in his last few years, he did not care what they had to say, as well.


"I only mean that I don't consider someone calling me a Communist to be an insult."

I would say you either adhere to that ideology or you are woefully lacking in understanding communism.

"We're better than that."

You just keep thinking that.

"...if you could provide me with some links I'd appreciate it."

I'm tied up in too much research for the next week or two and I live on a farm and its spring, otherwise, I would oblige you.

April 02, 2006 10:24 PM  
Blogger Maj. M.T. Rational XXXIV said...

I simply don't see communism as a threat. At its purest it's a fair, equitable, and progressive system. The big problem is that it is naive and makes too many false assumptions about human nature. It lays out a world that can only exist in fantasy. Like I said earlier, I don't think it can ever work, but by no means is it a threat to democracy, freedom, or whatever else we hold dear. I don't think real communism has ever been practiced in the modern era, and all we've had are states that label themselves as socialist, when in fact they're totalitarian governments.

April 03, 2006 1:35 AM  
Anonymous Ed Brayton said...

You're missing one thing about Baldwin and communism. He not only renounced communism after the Hitler-Stalin pact, he became an avowed enemy of communism (and he was right to do so; forget all this nonsense about "pure" communism being a good thing, it was horrid right from the start). He went on to write a book exposing the evils of communism called The New Slavery. Now that's something you won't hear on any anti-ACLU site.

April 28, 2006 7:14 PM  
Anonymous Mithrandir said...

loboinok:

I know Wikipedia isn't entirely definitive, but do you have any information to contradict the following passage:

However, there has never been any indication that McCarthy possessed VENONA intelligence at the time of his accusations, and McCarthy in fact accused the above of being Communists (being perfectly legal in the USA), not Soviet spies (being illegal). Additionally, even VENONA and the Soviet files failed to produce evidence to support the claims against the vast majority of the people that McCarthy targeted.

April 29, 2006 1:04 AM  

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