So why did the American Civil Liberties Union oppose a Republican nominee to the Supreme Court and argue for a presumption of guilt regarding sexual allegations directed against that judicial nominee? The answer is as clear as it is simple. It is all about pleasing the donors. The ACLU used to be cash poor but principle-rich. Now, ironically, after Trump taking office, the ACLU has never become so cash-rich, yet principle-poor.
The problem is that most of the money is not coming from civil libertarians who care about free speech, due process, the rights of the accused and defending the unpopular. It is coming from radical leftists in Hollywood, Silicon Valley and other areas not known for a deep commitment to civil liberties.
The old ACLU would never have been silent when Michael Cohen’s office was raided by the FBI and his clients’ files seized; it would have yelled foul when students accused of sexual misconduct were tried by kangaroo courts; and it surely would have argued against a presumption of guilt regarding sexual allegations directed against a judicial nominee.
When the ACLU’s national political director and former Democratic Party operative Faiz Shakir was asked why the ACLU got involved in the Kavanaugh confirmation fight, he freely admitted, “People have funded us and I think they expect a return.”
President Trump greeting Brett Kavanaugh and his family. Why did the American Civil Liberties Union oppose a Republican nominee to the Supreme Court and argue for a presumption of guilt regarding sexual allegations directed against him? (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
Now that Brett Kavanaugh has been confirmed, it is appropriate to look at the damage caused by the highly partisan confirmation process. Among the casualties has been an organization I have long admired.
After Politico reported that the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) was spending more than $1 million to oppose Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court, I checked the ACLU website to see if its core mission had changed — if the ACLU had now officially abandoned its non-partisan nature and become yet another Democratic super PAC. But no, the ACLU still claims it is “non-partisan.”
So why did the ACLU oppose a Republican nominee to the Supreme Court and argue for a presumption of guilt regarding sexual allegations directed against that judicial nominee?
The answer is as clear as it is simple. It is all about pleasing the donors. The ACLU used to be cash poor but principle-rich. Now, ironically, after Trump taking office, the ACLU has never become so cash-rich, yet principle-poor. Before Donald Trump was elected President, the ACLU had an annual operating budget of $60 million dollars. When I was on the ACLU National Board, it was a fraction of that amount. Today it is flush with cash, with net assets of over $450 million dollars. As the ACLU itself admitted in its annual report ending 2017, it received “unprecedented donations” after President Trump’s election. Unprecedented” it truly has been: the ACLU received $120 million dollars from online donations alone (up from $3-5 million during the Obama years).
The problem is that most of the money is not coming from civil libertarians who care about free speech, due process, the rights of the accused and defending the unpopular. It is coming from radical leftists in Hollywood, Silicon Valley and other areas not known for a deep commitment to civil liberties. To its everlasting disgrace, the ACLU is abandoning its mission in order to follow the money. It now spends millions of dollars on TV ads that are indistinguishable from left wing organizations, such as MoveOn, the Democratic National Committee and other partisan groups.
As the New Yorker reported on the ACLU’s “reinvention in the Trump era,”
“In this midterm year…as progressive groups have mushroomed and grown more active, and as liberal billionaires such as Howard Schultz and Tom Steyer have begun to imagine themselves as political heroes and eye Presidential runs, the A.C.L.U., itself newly flush, has begun to an active role in elections. The group has plans to spend more than twenty-five million dollars on races and ballot initiatives by [Midterm] Election Day, in November. Anthony Romero, the group’s executive director, told me, ‘It used to be that, when I had a referendum I really cared about, I could spend fifty thousand dollars.’”
This new strategy can be seen in many of the ACLU’s actions, which would have been inconceivable just a few years ago. The old ACLU would never have been silent when Michael Cohen’s office was raided by the FBI and his clients’ files seized; it would have yelled foul when students accused of sexual misconduct were tried by kangaroo courts; and it surely would have argued against a presumption of guilt regarding sexual allegations directed against a judicial nominee.
Everything the ACLU does today seems to be a function of its fundraising. To be sure, it must occasionally defend a Nazi, a white supremacist, or even a mainstream conservative. But that is not its priority these days, either financially or emotionally. Its heart and soul are in its wallet and checkbook. It is getting rich while civil liberties are suffering.
There appears to be a direct correlation between the ACLU’s fundraising and its priorities. When the ACLU’s national political director and former Democratic Party operative Faiz Shakir was asked why the ACLU got involved in the Kavanaugh confirmation fight, he freely admitted, “People have funded us and I think they expect a return.” Its funders applaud the result because many of these mega donors could not care less about genuine civil liberties or due process. What they care about are political results: more left-wing Democrats in Congress, fewer conservative justices on the Supreme Court and more money in the ACLU coffers.
When I served both on the National and Massachusetts Boards of the American Civil Liberties Union, board members included conservative Republicans, old line Brahmans, religious ministers, schoolteachers, labor union leaders and a range of ordinary folks who cared deeply about core civil liberties. The discussions were never partisan. They always focused on the Bill of Rights. There were considerable disagreements about whether various amendments covered the conduct at issue. But no one ever introduced the question of whether taking a position would help the Democrats or Republicans, liberals or conservatives, Jews or Catholics or any other identifiable group. We cared about applying the constitution fairly to everyone, without regard to the political consequences.
As the New Yorker described these more innocent times: the ACLU “… has been fastidiously nonpartisan, so prudish about any alliance with political power that its leadership, in the nineteen-eighties and nineties, declined even to give awards to like-minded legislators for fear that it might give the wrong impression.”
Those days are now gone. Instead we have a variant on the question my immigrant grandmother asked when I told her the Brooklyn Dodgers won the World Series in 1955: “Yeah, but, vuz it good or bad for the Jews?” My Grandmother was a strong advocate of identity politics: all she cared about was the Jews. That was 63 years ago. The questions being asked today by ACLU board members is: is it good or bad for the left, is it good or bad for Democrats, is it good or bad for women, is it good or bad for people of color, is it good or bad for gays?
These are reasonable questions to be asked by groups dedicated to the welfare of these groups but not by a group purportedly dedicated to civil liberties for all. A true civil libertarian transcends identity politics and cares about the civil liberties of one’s political enemies because he or she recognizes that this is the only way that civil liberties for everyone will be preserved.
Today, too few people are asking: Is it good or bad for civil liberties?
Reprinted with author’s permission from Gatestone Institute
Members of Students for Justice in Palestine speak at the “Palestine Without Borders” session at the 2018 United We Dream National Congress. Photo: Youth Empowerment Alliance.
A pro-Israel group on Thursday denounced an “antisemitic” session recently hosted by an immigrant youth organization, which compared Israel with Nazi Germany and equated the movement for Jewish self-determination with white supremacy and genocide.
69% of progressives are ashamed to be Americans, but 63% are proud of their political ideology instead. The majority don’t attend religious services, but 73% list politics as their preoccupation.
Numbers from one poll showed that, “religiously unaffiliated Democrats were more than twice as likely to have attended a rally within the past 12 months compared with their religious peers” and were “significantly more likely to have contacted an elected official or to have donated to a candidate or cause” or “bought or boycotted a product for political reasons or posted political opinions online”.
Campus Week: A guide for Jewish students and their elders
Anti-Zionism ghettoizes Jews from the rest of the justice movement, putting a wall around us that separates us from other marginalized people. It cannot be reconciled with any movement striving for inclusivity. It denies us access to solidarity-based movements which should be fighting for equality, for historically oppressed peoples. As American Jewish students return to campus, they should prepare to be challenged academically and intellectually, and should also prepare to challenge movements that don’t respect Zionism and their Jewish heritage.
The Jerusalem Post reviewed a video showing two speakers who called for the “liberation of all of Palestine 48” and “we must take a stand and boycott Israel. BDS.” The slogan to “liberate all of Palestine” reverts to the founding of the Jewish state in 1948 and is widely considered a euphemism to cleanse Israel of Jews.
The German Middle East expert Thomas von der Osten-Sacken wrote an article on the website of the Austrian-based think tank Mena-Watch, with the headline “Speaker at indivisible demonstration calls for Israel’s destruction.” The protest was called #unteilbar (indivisible) by its organizers.
From 1998 to 2008, 5.4 million Congolese died as a result of civil war. Most of the Congolese asylum seekers in Israel came during this period.
It is now the turn of hundreds of asylum seekers from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to be deported back to their country. The Foreign Ministry has implied that the conditions that justified collective protection to Congolese asylum seekers no longer prevail and that there is nothing to prevent them from returning home safely. The Population, Immigration and Border Authority (PIBA) has given them 90 days to leave the country.
With its decades-old track record of murder and mayhem, Hamas has already secured itself a place in the annals of infamy.
From bus bombings to underground terror tunnels to the indiscriminate firing of thousands of rockets and projectiles at Israeli towns and cities, the Islamic extremist group has repeatedly found new ways to sow widespread death and destruction.
Since Israel’s unilateral disengagement from Gaza in 2005, the standard of living for the Palestinian people in Gaza has steadily declined, even though Israel gifted the Palestinians with thriving agricultural lands, productive greenhouses and beautiful beachfront communities.
Every once in a while, I come across a book that I can say changed the way I understand the world I live in. Raymond Ibrahim’s new book, Sword and Scimitar, altered the way I understand the development of our civilization – I mean the one that America inherited from Europe and made our own. It drove home to me how little I knew about the way Islam – in the form of attempted and often successful conquest – really changed the way our civilization evolved and the way it grew to understand itself.
American Thinker: “How War with Islam Shaped and Defined Us”
“In the Hadith, the Day of Judgment will never happen until you fight the Jews,” Hatem Bazian reportedly declared, “until the trees and stones will say, oh Muslim, there is a Jew hiding behind me. Come and kill him!”
That was in 1999.
Two years later, Bazian had co-founded Students for Justice in Palestine. Three years later, 79 members of his new SJP hate group were busted for disrupting a Holocaust Remembrance Day event.
Iran is a formidable enemy. A large country of more than 80 million people, endowed with energy riches, it has always been a regional power. Having an imperial past and revolutionary zeal (since the 1979 Iranian Revolution), Iran nourishes ambitions to rule over the Middle East and beyond. Furthermore, theologically there is no place in Iranian thinking for a Jewish state.