Barber Recycles Old Anti-ACLU Arguments

Matt Barber must be running out of ideas for columns because his latest one recycles some tired old arguments against the ACLU, very dishonest ones at that. The ACLU are all communists, don’t you know. Because communism is totally relevant to today’s world. Nobody beats a dead horse like the right wing.

Consider the doublespeak inherent throughout the “progressive” Goliath’s flowery self-representation:

The ACLU is our nation’s guardian of liberty, working daily in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties that the Constitution and laws of the United States guarantee everyone in this country.

Now contrast that depiction with ACLU founder Roger Baldwin’s candid vision:

I am for socialism, disarmament, and, ultimately, for abolishing the state itself… I seek the social ownership of property, the abolition of the propertied class, and the sole control of those who produce wealth. Communism is the goal.

In 1931, just eleven years after the ACLU’s inception, the US Congress convened a Special House Committee to Investigate Communist Activities. On the ACLU it reported:

The American Civil Liberties Union is closely affiliated with the communist movement in the United States, and fully 90 percent of its efforts are on behalf of communists who have come into conflict with the law. It claims to stand for free speech, free press and free assembly, but it is quite apparent that the main function of the ACLU is an attempt to protect the communists.

To be sure, the “main function of the ACLU” is entirely counter-constitutional.

*yawn* Yes, the ACLU did defend communists in the 1920s. You know why? Because their rights were being violated by the government. You know, those rights that are in that constitution Barber claims to love so much but apparently thinks only apply to him. In fact, here’s a fact he leaves out. Liberty Counsel, the Christian right legal group he works for, only defends the rights of Christians. The ACLU, on the other hand, defends the rights of everyone, including Christians (see just a short list of such cases here).

In fact, Mr. Barber, perhaps you could answer this question for me. When the ACLU defended the man who hired you, Jerry Falwell, in court and argued that a Virginia law that prevented him from buying more than a certain amount of property for his church, was that because they were communists? When they defended the rights of school children in Massachusetts who wanted to hand out candy canes with Bible verses attached to them to their classmates and subsequently had Falwell lie about them, was that because they’re all a bunch of pinko commies?

He leaves out a couple little facts that change this story rather dramatically. Like the fact that Roger Baldwin rejected communism and the Soviet Union in the late 30s, purged the ACLU of communists like Elizabeth Flynn and went on to write a book called Communism: The New Slavery. Douglas MacArthur then took that dirty rotten commie to Japan to write their new constitution. But let’s not left minor little things like facts get in the way of a perfectly good righteous tirade, amirite?

The rest of his article is devoted to the usual boilerplate against separation of church and state, but I must point out this highly dishonest section:

Now what did they mean by “…shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion?”

Well, in a letter to Benjamin Rush, a fellow-signer of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson — often touted by the left as the great church-state separationst — answered that question. The First Amendment’s Establishment Clause was singularly intended to restrict Congress from affirmatively “establishing,” through federal legislation, a national Christian denomination (similar to the Anglican Church of England).

Or, as Jefferson put it: “[T]he clause of the Constitution” covering “freedom of religion” was intended to necessarily preclude “an establishment of a particular form of Christianity through the United States.”

The link there is to the website of his liar-in-arms, David Barton. Let’s take a look at the actual quote from Jefferson:

[T]he clause of the Constitution which, while it secured the freedom of the press, covered also the freedom of religion, had given to the clergy a very favorite hope of obtaining an establishment of a particular form of Christianity through the United States; and as every sect believes its own form the true one, every one perhaps hoped for his own, but especially the Episcopalians and Congregationalists. The returning good sense of our country threatens abortion to their hopes and they believe that any portion of power confided to me will be exerted in opposition to their schemes. And they believe rightly.

This comes from a letter Jefferson wrote to Benjamin Rush on Sep. 23, 1800. Notice that nowhere does it say that the Establishment Clause was intended only to prevent one sect or denomination from being established. It says that there were many denominations that wanted to be the official religion and they were prevented from doing so by the Establishment Clause.

But that clause forbids the establishment of Christianity in general just as strongly as it does the establishment of any particular sect. The committee that wrote the religion clauses of the First Amendment considered and rejected at least three alternate wordings that would have specified a ban on establishing a particular sect or denomination in favor of the far broader “establishment of religion” language.

"The Rev chose the second option."

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  • It baffles me how theists can simultaneously ascribe such profound wisdom and enlightenment to the Founding Father as to suppose that every word they wrote must be adhered to like… well… scripture, while at the same time ascribing such incredible ignorance to them as to assert that they didn’t realize that the word “religion” means more than “denomination of Christianity.”

  • Randomfactor

    I love the continuation of the full Jefferson quote, after where you ended it (the word “rightly” is followed by a comma.) His feelings against organized religion were so strong that America carved them into the stone of his memorial.

    “…for I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.”

  • imthegenieicandoanything

    “Beating a dead horse” is certainly the bravest, kindest, most intelligent and useful thing these shits ever do.