Ron Coleman, of the Slants fame, tried. He was all ready to take the plunge, after the American Civil Liberties Union found its groove again.
So I went to the @aclu website.
And here’s what happened. >
— Ron Coleman (@RonColeman) August 14, 2017
But there, popped up on his screen, was the real message.
Ron’s interest was the defense of civil liberties, constitutional rights. He was not interested in joining the Progressive Party, the Resistance Movement. The two are not the same, and at times are worlds apart.
After defending Milo, not to mention the worthless weasel Kessler in his march in Charlottesville, hard and unpopular but deeply principled positions, Josh Blackman was ready to cheer the ACLU’s fortitude. That didn’t last long.
— Josh Blackman (@JoshMBlackman) August 18, 2017
I’ve been fairly harsh with the ACLU’s conflicted approach to constitutional rights. It’s not that it does nothing right, but that it does plenty wrong as well. And when the ACLU comes out against constitutional rights, it feeds those whose goal is to re-engineer the Constitution to match their feelz. After all, if the ACLU says it’s okay, it must be okay, because it’s the ACLU.
But the ACLU has been on a huge money roll since the Trump immigration Executive Orders, when it captured the hearts and wallets of the deeply passionate. There’s a thing about money. Get some and you want more. More, more, more. The excuse is that you need money to do your good works. The failure of the excuse is that to get the moolah, you forfeit good works for popular works. Or as Mark Bennett said, you dance with the gal who brung ya.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) took a new stance on firearms Thursday, announcing a change in policy that it would not represent hate groups who demonstrate with firearms.
ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero told the Wall Street Journal that the group would have stricter screenings and take legal requests from white supremacist groups on a case-by-case basis.
“The events of Charlottesville require any judge, any police chief and any legal group to look at the facts of any white-supremacy protests with a much finer comb,” Romero told the Journal. “If a protest group insists, ‘No, we want to be able to carry loaded firearms,’ well, we don’t have to represent them. They can find someone else.”
There’s little question that the First Amendment protects the right to express unpopular, even repugnant, ideas. There is also little question that the Second Amendment protects the fundamental right to keep and bear arms. The ACLU has been pretty squishy and highly inconsistent on the first, and largely ignored the second. But until now, they’ve never quite come out and announced that they will refuse to defend a constitutional right. This announcement says that when someone seeks to exercise two rights at the same time, the ACLU is outta there.
The donors upon which the ACLU has prepared its lavish feast didn’t take kindly to its principled defense of Kessler in Virginia, and they saw the gravy train crashing.
“But let’s be clear: our lawsuit challenging the city to act constitutionally did not cause violence nor did it in any way address the question whether demonstrators could carry sticks or other weapons at the events,” Virginia ACLU Executive Director Claire Gastanaga said in a statement earlier this week.
This was in response to the cries that the ACLU killed Heather Heyer. The ACLU denied it, but nuance stands little chance in a game of feelz. People were literally shaking, and nobody can donate money when they can’t even.
The ACLU is a private organization, an NGO, so it can take whatever position it wants to take. If it wants to say the First Amendment should no longer protect hate speech, or that the Second Amendment should only apply to “well-organized militias,” that’s their right, because this is America and they are entitled to express their opinions.
But then, it also means that the name is bullshit, and that they can claim to speak for civil liberties but they don’t. Nobody elected the ACLU to decide what rights are protected by the Constitution, and if the courts are the least dangerous branch, then they’re damn near powerless beyond their credibility and integrity. Now that they’ve openly chosen to forsake the defense of civil liberties that fail to comport with their finely-honed sense of righteousness, they’re shooting blanks.
This is where principle becomes exceptionally hard to take, because it compels positions with which you may not necessarily agree and, at times, believe to be dangerous. Nobody wants to promote rights they believe are dangerous. But then, the principled understand that circumstances, times, beliefs and regimes change, and the unprincipled forfeiture of rights that seems like a good idea under one set of circumstances will be disastrous under another. This doesn’t trouble some folks, as they take comfort in the hope that everybody will “get it,” and be on the side of goodness and justice when it comes time to pick their outcome.
Others see how the rationale for one becomes the rationalization for another, and that a right once lost is almost impossible to regain. If marching with guns is no longer the ACLU’s bag, then it won’t have their support when the Black Panthers march with guns either. Or maybe it will, because one is on the good team and the other is one the “literally Hitler” team.
The ACLU’s donors are going to go with what aligns with their feelings. And the ACLU is going to go with its donors. Cash is king.