The American Civil Liberties Union used to defend individual freedom. However, in recent years, it has given up its mission and devolved into a progressive activist organization.
The ACLU used to defend freedom of speech. On many occasions throughout the 20th century, the ACLU defended the freedom of speech of religious zealots, the KKK and neo-nazis. By no means did the ACLU ever agree with these people, rather their commitment to free speech ran so deep they would defend the scum of our society if it meant protecting civil liberties. The United States has more freedom of speech than any other country in the world, thanks in large part to the ACLU.
They gave up their commitment to free speech after the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. For those who don’t recall, this was the march where neo-nazis carried tiki torches, chanted “Jews will not replace us,” and where Heather Heyer was killed after an extremist rammed his car into a crowd. The city initially tried to shut down the rally, but the ACLU sued in defense of free speech. But after Heather Heyer’s death, people said the ACLU had blood on its hands and donors threatened to pull funding. June 20th, 2018, Wendy Kaminer leaked a memo to the Wall Street Journal in which the ACLU said they will no longer defend speech that’s contrary to their broader goals. The ACLU caved to an angry mob. Money and partisanship are more important to them than freedom of speech.
The ACLU used to defend racial equality. When the NAACP brought Brown v Board of Education to the Supreme Court to end racial segregation in schools, the ACLU was there alongside them. Today, the ACLU openly and proudly supports overt racial discrimination. Students for Fair Admission is currently suing Harvard University over their affirmative action policies, arguing they are discriminatory against Asians. The ACLU is siding with Harvard. Neither Harvard nor the ACLU are denying these allegations, rather they argue racial discrimination is a good thing. “We have too many of this race in our society; we want fewer of them” is something you would expect a far-right nationalist to say, not the ACLU. The argument the ACLU uses to justify this position is its rejection of colorblindness in general, the idea that people should not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. The rejection of colorblindness is very popular in progressive circles and the mental gymnastics they employ deserves another letter on its own. But based on this case, it is safe to say the ACLU has abandoned its commitment to racial equality.
The ACLU used to defend due process. In 2011, the Obama administration’s “Dear Colleague” letter opened the flood gates to draconian kangaroo courts because the administration threatened to pull federal funding from universities that allowed sexual assault to go unpunished, based on Title IX. Now, many universities will punish students based on nothing more than an accusation of misconduct without making any attempt to investigate. The accused students have no opportunity to defend themselves, confront the accuser, cross examine witnesses, or provide their own evidence. Even when the alleged victim denies any misconduct happened, the university will punish the accused anyway. Title IX has become synonymous with the inquisition. Universities have been successfully sued many times, but they continue to violate rights due to federal incentives.
Betsy DeVos, education secretary in the Trump administration, announced reforms recently requiring due process for the accused. The ACLU sued in response and I can’t make heads or tails of their argument. There’s a popular joke that if Trump came out in support of water, progressives would die of dehydration; I suspect that’s what’s happening here. Now that the Trump administration supports due process, the ACLU must oppose it.
The ACLU no longer defends free speech, due process, or racial equality because progressives likewise do not support these principles and the ACLU is a progressive activist group. Of course they deny being partisan and still claim to support these ideals, but their actions speak louder than words. On June 5th, Dane Dekrey, advocacy director of ACLU of North Dakota, wrote a letter announcing the ACLU’s backing of a cause. This question is for him: Why should anybody care what the ACLU has to say anymore?