Why the ACLU’s principles are right, even if its practices are wrong

I don’t like the ACLU. I think it’s an agenda drive organization, in thrall to Bush Derangement Syndrome. This means it takes its theoretical focus — the preservation of individual rights against the state — and simply attempts, time and time again, to subvert that goal to striking out at the Bush administration, specifically, and at conservatives generally. The thing, though, is that its core idea — the preservation of individual rightse against the state — is right on the money. I’ll tell you why.

I was reading a book about Soviet Russia and, as always, was stunned by the cruelty that individuals in the USSR directed against their fellow countrymen.  I was watching a movie about WWII Japan and was stunned by the movie’s depiction of the callous disregard Japanese exhibited to those Japanese who weren’t “with the program. “  I was watching a movie about the savagery the Nazis inflicted on priests during WWII, which was a good reminder of the Nazis’ subhuman behavior with regard to all whom they wished to destroy. And every day I’ve been reading the news about the atrocities that Islamofascists commit against everyone who doesn’t conform precisely to any particular sword-wielder’s vision of Islam.

In each case, I ask myself how can societies produce individuals who will turn on their own in this way?  And, the mirror question, why has our country, for the most part, avoided this type of conduct?  In each case, my answer was that the societies I’ve described value the state (or the state religion) above the individual.  In this way, these societies are markedly distinguishable from the Western tradition, which reached its apex in the American Bill of Rights, which values the individual above the state.

States have no conscience.  When the state becomes the paramount virtue in a community, the state’s goals trump individual needs and the state, acting through individuals in thrall to that state, will do anything — no matter about cruel and debased — to ensure the primacy of those goals.

Keep this point in mind when you contemplate the end of Europe — and it is ending.  Much is made of the fact that it’s ending through multiculturalism, declining childbirth rates amongst Europeans, and increased fertility and aggression amongst immigrant Muslims.  None of this could have happened though, if socialism hadn’t instructed the Europeans to place themselves in the government’s hands.  Cradle to grave care, with its focus on the state, and its concurrent subordination of individual needs and desires, is rushing Europe along the same path Germany trod in the 1930s and Russia in the wake of the Communist Revolution.  In this way, the ground is being prepared for an Islamic takeover.  Europeans have already been trained that the state’s dictates matter above all else.  As Islam emerges triumphant, Europeans will just attach themselves to a different, although less generous and more brutal, government teat.

You should also keep this in mind when you contemplate the Democrats’/Liberals’ desire to turn over more and more to the Government.  They want the government to run our businesses, control the lives of our poor, dictate our scientific research, take our money, determine our health care, decide how we protect ourselves, teach our children correct government think, etc.  In other words, they want to remove the individual from the equation and to place the government as the central focus of every America’s day-to-day existence.  That’s why the ACLU, although its practices are so one-sided as to be perverted, has the right idea — the less the government controls, the better.

By the way, I’m not advocating removing the government from all spheres of life.  There are certain roles the government needs to fulfill — most notably security at home and abroad.  And this security is going to bring with it inevitable tensions between the state’s goals and the individual’s needs and freedoms.  That’s why the Founders, in their wisdom, created a system of checks and balances.  Recognizing that individuals, who should be paramount, can also turn into uncontrolled mobs, they created a representative democracy.  It is the responsibility of these representatives, who should be zealously guarding their ability to stand up to the executive branch, to make sure that individual rights are being protected.

No system is perfect, and ours is going to be subject to the failures of individuals and the ebbs and flows of world events, but it’s still the best system going.  And its virtues arise from the fact that, in America, the state exists to help the individual, not control him.

[By the way, I chose the picture of God and Adam to illustrate this post because I think it perfectly exemplifies how important the individual is in classic Western culture.  He's not being controlled by God, he's being touched by God.]

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Comments

  1. JJ says

    What the founders created was in fact a represntative republic – everybody in the room was terrified by the idea of democracy, which they regarded as just a polite term for mob rule. The famous quote comes from Benjamin Franklin who, when asked by a woman in Philadelphia what they had given the nascent country, replied: “we have given you a republic, madam – if you can keep it.”

  2. Cycle Cyril says

    Watch what they do not what they say is the warning with regards to the ACLU. While their tenets may be in the correct place to encourage individualism their actions undermine these words.

    They are in pursuit all too often of a standard dictated by multiculturalism and political correctness which is in effect a standard dictated by the experts and elite of their chosing and not of the people either directly or indirectly.

    Of interest your statement about the state taking care of life from cradle to grave can be meshed into a previous comment of mine on this blog that state funded pensions discourage people from having children. In the past children were necessary to ensure the care of elderly parents or grandparents. Now it is the state that cares for the elderly and people are not forced to make the investment of having children but can simply spend their money and time on themselves.

    I have no way of proving it but perhaps the more minimalist state funded pensions in the US as oppose those in Europe contributes to the higher birthrates in America.

  3. mamapajamas says

    RE: “You should also keep this in mind when you contemplate the Democrats’/Liberals’ desire to turn over more and more to the Government. They want the government to run our businesses, control the lives of our poor, dictate our scientific research, take our money, determine our health care, decide how we protect ourselves, teach our children correct government think, etc.”

    You are right about this, and there is a word for a system that is socialist, but allows private business under strict government control.

    That word is “fascism”, a system only a hair’s breadth away from communism. Allowing private business under strict government control was what differentiated Hitler from Stalin.

    It makes me wonder if the Democrats know where they’re heading. Europe has already been long gone to fascism.

  4. says

    The ACLU is a fascist organization, and I tend to think their subversive activities proves that contention out.

    They are like Hitler’s brownshirts and black shirts, except without the thugs. Their weapons are lawyers, free legal counsel. Which gives them a moral superiority that just “intimidating” someone with naked force, would never give them. A false moral superiority.

    I actually wrote the above comment while not reading the post or the comments.

    Everything the ACLU says it is for, they are actually doing the opposite. Protecting criminals because everyone has rights? No, protecting criminals because criminals have rights, the ACLU provides no free counsel to true victims of criminal acts.

    Free speech? The ACLU bans and expunges members who went with the Minutemen, and they’ve tried to muffle their own board members from criticizng the ACLU.

    Freedom didn’t get thrown out with cheers, it was thrown out on perfectly “LEGAL” means. Hitler himself assumed the Chancellorship through legal political means (and illegal but then the ACLU tries to make what is illegal, legal) and Hitler initiated emergency powers, which were legal.

    Often you don’t see freedoms evaporate because everyone just decided to start killing people. It is usually because of some government mandate or a group of powerful people thave have gained leverage over the tentacles of state power, the military most notoriously.

    The 2nd Ammendment and the military offers more protection on civil liberties, than 500 years of the ACLU in()action.

    In other words, they want to remove the individual from the equation and to place the government as the central focus of every America’s day-to-day existence.

    They want utopia, perfection. A land of uber-menschen and unter-menschen, the rich and the victims in other words.

    That’s why the ACLU, although its practices are so one-sided as to be perverted, has the right idea — the less the government controls, the better.

    That is not their idea, however. Their idea is to use the courts to supplant the power of the government into their hands, in effect transfering the power of the people from accountable politicians to unaccountable lawyers. You don’t need the government to have a totalitarian regime, you just need some kind of enforcement branch, whether the secret police, lawyers, judges, or the military. The KELO Act is a very good example of Enforcement.

  5. jg says

    You write well, BW. Thank you. I admire and agree with your points. But when it comes to the true nature of the ACLU, Y. is clearer-headed.
    The ACLU exists to create a secular American state, the very thing the Founding Fathers hated.
    America, at birth, knew Europe’s religious failures, and anticipated Europe’s secular failures, and did better. (No American state or church, only the government of the people by the people.) Self government.
    Yes, the ACLU seeks to ‘turn the clock back!’

    I have begun (although still crudely) to see that the class-conscious, sexist, racist, and divided America championed by the Left is actually a variant of Marxism.

    Conscience-driven Americans– from Mormons, Christians, the Jewish faith, to agnostics–are an offense to their opiate for the masses. The MSM serves as the Left’s perfect tool.

    I view the ACLU’s work as truly Marxian: Power is the only god; and power belongs to those who can seize it through any means. The ACLU would replace free America with Leftist ideals of controlled existence. The Founders would bluntly say, ‘Tyranny.’

  6. says

    I don’t disagree with BW that what the ACLU “says” they’re about is a good thing. But I believe that they’ve long since abandoned actually pursuing that goal and submerged it in ideological work.

    I quit supporting them when they simultaneously argued for the rights of pre- and early-teen girls to have abortions with no information going to the parents, AND against the right of a young man named (I believe) Muravchik whose parents wanted to take him back to the USSR. The kid was a few months shy of the birthday that would have let him decide for himself, and he had been here several years and WANTED to stay, and there were relatives happy to have him, but the ACLU argued for the right of the parents to haul him back to (essentially) slavery.

    A pox on the ACLU, as it actually exists and acts.

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