Wednesday, November 24, 2021

ACLU

One of the most striking symptoms of the disease of the woke times is the intellectual and moral decline of the ACLU:  "The Disintegration of the ACLU" (Kirchick) (my emphasis in red throughout):

"“My successor, and the board of directors that have supported him, have basically tried to transform the organization from a politically neutral, nonpartisan civil liberties organization into a progressive liberal organization,” Glasser says about Anthony Romero, an ex-Ford Foundation executive who continues to serve as the ACLU’s executive director. According to former ACLU national board member Wendy Kaminer in her 2009 book Worst Instincts: Cowardice, Conformity, and the ACLU, Romero and his enablers routinely engaged in the sort of undemocratic and unaccountable behavior practiced by the individuals and institutions the ACLU usually took to court, like withholding information (concerning a breach of ACLU members’ privacy, no less), shredding documents in violation of its own record-preservation and transparency procedures, and attempting to muzzle board members from criticizing the organization publicly. (“You sure that didn’t come out of Dick Cheney’s office?” remarked the late, great former Village Voice columnist and ACLU board member Nat Hentoff of this last gambit). Eerily prescient, Worst Instincts foreshadowed the hypocrisy and fecklessness that has since come to characterize the leadership of so many other, previously liberal institutions confronted by the forces of illiberalism within their own ranks.

In 2018, the ACLU spent over$1 million on advertisements likening Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh to Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein, essentially accusing him of crimes for which he was never tried or convicted. More egregious than their brazen political partisanship was the way in which the ads traduced the presumption of innocence, a bedrock of American jurisprudence and a principle the ACLU was founded to uphold. Asked why his organization was willing to further violate its tradition of political neutrality, Faiz Shakir, a Democratic Party operative then serving as the ACLU’s national political director, was brutally honest. “People have funded us and I think they expect a return,” he said. Glasser also points to the group’s decision to run a television advertisement supporting then-Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams as a telling sign of its transformation. “I mean, I love Stacey Abrams,” Glasser told me. “She has become my favorite political character in the country. But the ACLU has always stayed away from that. Nobody attacked Richard Nixon or Ronald Reagan on their civil liberties violations more vigorously and strenuously than I did. But we always stayed away from political partisanship, and it was critical for the ACLU, virtually for all its history, to have standards that were as applicable to those most of us politically supported as to those who most of us politically opposed.”

But it is the group’s attitude toward the First Amendment, the ACLU’s bread and butter, that has been most concerning. In 2004, The New York Times revealed that Romero had consented to sign a grant agreement from his former employers at the Ford Foundation, included at the behest of pro-Israel activists, stipulating that any recipient of the foundation’s largesse “agree that your organization will not promote or engage in violence, terrorism, bigotry, or the destruction of any state,” a vaguely worded contravention of free speech principles. Not only did Romero initially refrain from informing the board about the controversial agreement, but he also neglected to mention that he had helped draft it, allegedly recommending the Patriot Act as a model. That same year, the national ACLU was silent about a case involving a San Diego high school student punished for wearing a T-shirt condemning homosexuality, in contrast to the many students it had defended who donned clothing emblazoned with pro-gay messages (or in the case of one Alaska stoner it proudly represented, the message “Bong Hits 4 Jesus”).

Of course, no discussion of the ACLU can ignore Donald Trump, whose role in its degeneration, like that of so many other people and institutions opposed to him, was seismic. It was entirely appropriate that the ACLU would be one of Trump’s loudest antagonists; he made violating the letter and spirit of the Constitution an all but explicit plank of his campaign, and his upset victory subsequently led to a dramatic spike in the ACLU’s membership rolls. Accompanying this influx of new members and money, however, were pressures for the group to become another run-of-the-mill #Resistance outfit. In 2017, the ACLU of Virginia had supported the right of white nationalists to rally in Charlottesville. But once the rally turned violent, the national ACLU circulated an internal document with new “case selection guidelines,” stipulating, “Speech that denigrates such [marginalized] groups can inflict serious harms and is intended to and often will impede progress toward equality.” Before agreeing to take a free speech case, the document continued, the ACLU would now consider “the potential effect on marginalized communities,” whether the speech advances the goals of speakers whose “views are contrary to our values,” and the “structural and power inequalities in the community in which the speech will occur.” A manifestation of the ACLU’s new approach can be seen in the decision by one chapter to intervene in a high-profile case at Smith College, where the group amplified bogus claims of racism leveled by a student against some of the school’s custodial and cafeteria staff.

Were the ACLU today confronted with a lawsuit similar to National Socialist Party of America v. Village of Skokie, Glasser doubts the group would take it. (Tellingly, in an essay collection celebrating its most important cases published on the occasion of the group’s 100th anniversary last year, the ACLU neglected to include that seminal litigation).
And when other constitutional rights have come into conflict with a First Amendment freedom even more unpopular with progressives than speech—that of religion—the ACLU has made it all but official policy to consider claims of religious conscience as smokescreens for discrimination, arguing that an evangelical Christian baker must make cakes for same-sex weddings against his will (a violation of both expressive and religious freedom), and that Catholic hospitals must perform abortions.

The embrace of political partisanship, the dropping of standards, the buckling to donor demands at the expense of long-held principles—Glasser says all of these developments have rendered the ACLU unrecognizable from the group he once led. The roots of the ACLU’s evolution from principled, nonpartisan defender of civil liberties into just another cog in the progressive machine are cultural as much as generational. You might say it’s the difference between devotion to the First Amendment and devotion to oil depletion allowances.

For instance, whereas Glasser avoided wooing the wealthy, under Romero the group enthusiastically caters to the whims of ultrarich partisan donors whose support for its traditional mission is tenuous. “Glasser and the other ACLU stalwarts of his generation were scrappy and combative, jumping to take unpopular stances at the mere hint of a threat to principle,” reported The New York Times in a 2005 article about the changing nature of the organization and its leadership. Romero, by contrast, was described as having “the diplomacy and charm of a veteran foundation executive,” useful qualities for a courtier to the wealthy but worse than useless for challenging power."
and:
"If the public face of the ACLU was Ira Glasser during the latter part of the previous century, today that honor can be claimed by a staff attorney named Chase Strangio. Named one of the 100 most influential people on the planet by Time magazine last year, Strangio is the ACLU’s deputy director for transgender justice. Like many activists consumed by this issue, he is uncompromising in demanding strict adherence to a set of highly contestable orthodoxies, and merciless toward anyone who dares question them. Two women who have—J.K. Rowling, the author of Harry Potter, and Abigail Shrier, author of a book about the role of “peer contagion” in the rising rate of teenage girls declaring themselves transgender—are “closely aligned with white supremacists in power,” Strangio declared on Twitter, offering not a shred of evidence for this claim. “Stopping the circulation of [Shrier’s] book and these ideas is 100% a hill I will die on,” he wrote, a rather bizarre position for an ACLU employee to endorse. Strangio later deleted the tweet, explaining that his intention was not to call for the government to ban Shrier’s book, but rather “to create the information climate for the market to be more supportive of trans self-determination than the alternative.”

Strangio is of course perfectly entitled to his views about the fairness of allowing natal males to compete against natal females in high school sports, and to advocate for an “information climate” suppressing books he doesn’t like. What’s puzzling is why someone with such pro-censorship inclinations would want to work, of all places, at the American Civil Liberties Union. Not to put too fine a point on it, but it’s like a carnivore joining the staff of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. 
Puzzling, that is, until you realize that—like so many other institutions whose worthy missions we naively assumed to be inviolable—the ACLU is no longer itself. The organization known as the ACLU is now led by people beholden to an ideology purporting that the essential function of the Constitution has been to serve as a blueprint for white supremacy, and that its broad free-speech protections are not a tool of emancipation for society’s underdogs but rather the handmaiden of their oppression."
The Every. Single. Time. explanation, from a comment by Altai in an article by Sailer advertising one of his Taki articles, this time on the lying (((media))) (an insightful quote from Sailer's piece:  "(If there is hope, it lies with the if-it-bleeds-it-leads local TV news.)"):
"Right now the average journalist, their class and social context being understood, is very much politically emboldened. Much like how even by the early 2000s the ACLU was, generally, trying to increase the scope of freedom of speech. But they achieved their objective, the groups and perspectives of society they wanted to champion (Either directly or indirectly through certain groups being attracted to the ACLU because it’s policies were generally in their group’s interest at the time) got everything they wanted from ‘freedom of speech’ and the ideas they generally liked became the dominant ones.

Now ‘freedom of speech’ generally is good for speech they don’t like and thus the ACLU has changed it’s tune. I sincerely hope the vast majority of people who balked at the ACLU recently talking about how ‘freedom of speech’ was interpreted too far were doing so to point this out and not out of genuine surprise or confusion. The ACLU still has the same ‘who/whom’ it always had.


Here is an article in Tablet where the former head of the ACLU Ira Glasser and the interviewer pretend not to understand why this happened while laying out exactly why it happened.

https://www.tabletmag.com/sections/news/articles/the-disintegration-of-the-aclu-james-kirchick

Similarly a lot of things are happening that counter the meta-narrative that the top American journalists either sincerely believe or desire others to believe to further group or political interests they support. They see a reaction to their inability to be gracious in power (I keep saying that you can’t call out cluster Bs being cluster Bs on social media is causing this moment) and are thus more invested in hiding the truth of these events or trying to disingenuously portray them in a certain light without directly lying in order not to feed these movements with events that validate their narrative and undermine the journalists. 
I mean, covid-19 is the ultimate ‘who/whom’ turnaround process. Things that hadn’t changed in nature at all, changed from being ‘right wing’ to ‘left wing’ to ‘right wing’ and back again in matters of months and journalists followed what they were supposed to feel or believe with every shift in a way that only activists among non-journos did. It is surreal to watch. Again though, it’s mostly people with histrionic cluster B personalities who are fueling this. They seem to be pretty common in places like journalism, particularly at the top."
In other words, freedom as a moral/legal value was supported by (((donors))) while they could get group supremacist use out of it, and then dropped when it might interfere with the group supremacist project (particularly with respect to the land theft project of 'Israel').   You simply cannot be too cynical.

There is a similar dynamic with respect to BLM, funded by (((donors))) right up to the point when it turned out that intellectual and moral consistency by the leaders of BLM, which led them to support Palestinian rights, resulted in (((donor))) taps being immediately turned off (see also, Occupy Wall Street, which suffered a similar sudden collapse when the (((money))) ran out).  

The message is loud and clear - if you want the kind of (((big funding))) that these organizations require to function, you have to toe the line on Palestinian rights.

Who/whom is a Saileresque technical term referring to the intellectual flexibility of the 'left' in espousing 'principles' depending on whether their side is winning from applying them:
"Basically, what we are seeing in our intellectual culture is the triumph of Lenin’s dictum that the essential question is always “Who? Whom?” It doesn’t matter who is right or wrong in any abstract sense, it just matters that your side be the Who and force the other side to be the Whom."
As an aside, I was researching this posting and found this great quote, only to later realize it was by Sailer himself (the thread, regarding whether gayness results in a lack of concern about the plight of future generations, is also interesting)!

Related:  'Hunter Wallace' on the extreme right's disastrously failed experiment with adhering to the civil liberties 'rules', which turned out to be a ruinous trap set by Terry McAuliffe:  "Charlottesville Show Trial Ends In Predictable Disaster".  The kind of cynicism engendered by this cynical self-serving misuse of the principles of freedom is going to result in great danger.
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