“Here is my advice as we begin the century that will lead to 2081. First, guard the freedom of ideas at all costs. Be alert that dictators have always played on the natural human tendency to blame others and to oversimplify. And don’t regard yourself as a guardian of freedom unless you respect and preserve the rights of people you disagree with to free, public, unhampered expression…” Gerard K. O’Neill, 2081
Ari and I agree on most issues, and from time to time a lively “discussion” ensues on certain topics. One of these is the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Like most Americans there are times I would love to flip a switch and turn off the words of those who egregiously offend my sensibilities.
I was particularly appalled, and of course, amused by the comments recently from Al Sharpton concerning Rush Limbaugh’s right to free speech. If there is anyone in this country who has used free speech for the benefit of his own corrupt ends, well it’s even too hilarious to address.
However, Sharpton is not to be taken seriously on any level.
What frightens me greatly however, is when those in the Congress pick up the rhetoric and carry the flag for fools. More disturbing is the White House’s attempts to silence their critics through the use of new laws and presidential power.
When the White House disallowed Fox News from participating in an interview last year, I was relieved to see the other networks refuse to allow the action.
The constant attacks on those who disagree with him from a petulant and childish President are a sorry example of the greatness of our country. Temper tantrums and name calling from the leader of the free world do not go a long way toward instilling confidence in America’s ability to police the world against evil.
Troubling as these issues may be, I am most agitated of late by the ACLU.
As a journalist I am especially protective of the rights of free speech.
Was I happy to see Nazis marching in Skokie?
No more than any other reasonable and sane American.
I am very upset with the ACLU for losing sight of their supposed agenda: to protect freedom of speech for all Americans.
They are now a politically motivated, bought-and-paid-for, corrupt organization that has taken upon themselves the judgment of who shall and who shall not exercise freedom of speech.
How Dare They?
When they called me for money this year, instead of a contribution, I gave them an earful about their ethics. Why, you might ask, am I so suddenly disgusted and disappointed in their behavior? What put me over the top after their recent laundry list of politically motivated decisions?
The murder threats against filmmakers and authors when they speak against Muslim extremists throughout the world are well known. These threats are not only pronounced but also often carried out.
As I waited patiently for the ACLU to come to their aid, to cry out loudly in their usual way, that Matt and Trey were American citizens and in this country we speak freely, there was instead only stillness. Silence.
Where was the ACLU who loudly defended the Nazis, the rights of a child in Maryland to refuse to stand and salute the American flag or to recite the pledge of allegiance? Silence.
Can it be that the ACLU is actually a cowardly bunch that only takes on causes for which they cannot be attacked or murdered? Is that the new criteria for deciding who should have the right to free speech and who shall not?
Shame, shame on the little sissies. Stand up and be counted or you will not count my money or any from any American who respects the Constitution and the freedoms it afford our great nation.
This does not portend well for the future of our country or the rights guaranteed under the Constitution.
I will repeat what I have said to Ari on numerous occasions when he and I were appalled by the behavior of certain groups voicing their egregious garbage, “Either everyone in America has free speech, or no one has. Who shall ultimately make that choice of who has and who hasn’t?”
A frightening thought, indeed.
This principle is as true today as the day it was decided by our forefathers, and will remain viable as long as this country is a free and thriving society.
I pray for all of us, our children and grandchildren, we never see the sun rise on that day in our lifetimes.
I must end with the words of Martin Niemoller:
“They came first for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up.”