Maduro: down but not out

Nicolas Maduro

We’ve written about Venezuela a great deal at this sight, but not lately. What more is there to say? We reported faithfully on its decline, which now seems pretty much complete. Why repeat ourselves? Given what the people of Venezuela are being put through because of the idiocy of chavismo, it seems almost cruel – almost like rubbing it in, like slumming, like saying “I told you so” – to keep returning to the scene of the crime and gazing, like callous rubberneckers at a car accident, at the sad wreckage of Hugo’s and Nicolás’s tyranny.

On the other hand, there have been a few developments worth taking note of. For example, the fact that while most of the governments in the Western hemisphere have joined the U.S. in recognizing Juan Guaidó as the new president of the beleaguered country, Maduro, the former bus driver who inherited the Bolivarian throne from Chávez, still has allies.

Hugo Chavez

One of them is Cuba, whose Communist regime was the model for Chávez’s own. As Eli Lake of Bloomberg News reported recently, the Venezuelan military and police are infiltrated with members of Cuban intelligence, some of whom are responsible for giving Maduro daily briefings. Thousands of Cuban “security forces” harass Venezuelan citizens. The Organization of American States has said that Cuba has what amounts to an “occupying army” in Venezuela numbering about 15,000. “This contingent of Cuban advisers,” Lake wrote “will make it much more difficult for Venezuela’s military to help Guaidó prepare for new elections, as it is being pressured to do.”

Moreover, the ties Chávez forged with Russia and China are still strong. Maduro has shipped cheap oil to China and allowed Russian warships into its ports. Russia, like Cuba, has “military advisers” in Venezuela, and promised in late March to keep them there as long as Maduro needed them — in response to which Trump, while meeting with Guaidó’s wife at the White House, demanded that they be called home. The ayatollas in Iran also continue to support Maduro. Those alliances, of course, are to be expected. Rather more surprising is the apparent coziness between Mexico’s new leftist president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, and Maduro, whom he invited to his inauguration in January.

Juan Guaido

Even after month after month of painful headlines about the present social and economic conditions in what was once one of the world’s richest countries, some Western politicians continued to profess admiration for Maduro, and some Western media not only find ingenious ways to avoid blaming his nation’s catastrophe on socialism but even try to perform at least a partial whitewash that catastrophe. As recently as in late January, for example, the BBC described Venezuela as having experienced a “reduction in inequality and poverty.” What kind of way is that to describe a country where countless people are eating pets, countless more are fleeing to neighboring Colombia, and the inflation rate is just shy of 10 million percent?

An end to chavismo?

Venezuelans queue up to buy groceries that may or may not be on the store shelves

Since we’ve devoted so much space at this site to the plight of Venezuela under chavismo, it’s only right for us to acknowledge – and celebrate – an extraordinary turning point in the history of that country.

We need hardly go into detail here about the devastation wrought upon Venezuela, once one of the richest nations in the world, by hard-core socialism. That the land with the world’s largest oil reserves should decline into such terrible poverty – to say nothing of the steady erosion of individual liberty and human rights – is a classic lesson in the horrible consequences of socialist policies.


Juan Guaidó

On January 5, Juan Guaidó, a fierce opponent of chavismo, was sworn in as President of Venezuela’s National Assembly. Five days later, Nicolás Maduro, who had succeeded his mentor, Hugo Chávez, as President of Venezuela, in 2013, was inaugurated for his second term after being re-elected in what was widely considered an illegitimate election. The next day, Guaidó led a massive rally, attended by hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans, at which it was announced that, in accordance with the Venezuelan Constitution, he would be assuming the presidency. On January 15, the Washington Post ran an op-ed by Guaidó headlined “Maduro is a usurper. It’s time to restore democracy in Venezuela.”

Nicolas Maduro

“We are living in a crisis without precedent in Venezuela,” the op-ed began. “We have a government that has dismantled the state and kidnapped all institutions to manipulate them at will.” Truthfully enough, Guaidó called Maduro a dictator, but a dictator with a difference, who had “ties to drug trafficking and guerrilla groups,” but whose nation continued to have “a functioning, democratically elected parliament, the National Assembly,” which enjoyed “the backing of the international community and the majority of Venezuelans.”

On January 23, Guaidó formally declared himself President of Venezuela. Almost immediately, he was recognized as the country’s legitimate head of state by U.S. President Donald Trump. By the end of day, he had been recognized as President by the Organization of American States as well as by the governments of Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Paraguay, and Peru. In all of Latin America, only Communist Cuba and socialist Bolivia reiterated their full support for Maduro, while Mexico’s new left-wing leader, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, criticized Guaidó but instead of totally backing Maduro called for “dialogue.”

Mauricio Macri

The swiftness with which so many Latin American governments endorsed Guaidó’s ascent to power is a reflection of the degree to which socialism in that region has, in a relatively short time, given way to a renewed wave of democratic capitalism. A few years ago, for example, Cristina Fernandez, then President of Argentina, would surely have stood behind Maduro; now, her successor, Mauricio Macri, took to Twitter and explicitly cheered on “all efforts toward rebuilding democracy in Venezuela and reestablishing conditions of life worthy of all its citizens.” Likewise, in Brazil, the new president, Jair Bolsonaro, widely known as the Trump of Latin America, tweeted that “Brazil supports politically and economically the transition back to democracy and social peace in Venezuela.”

To be sure, it’s all easier said than done. At this writing, Maduro seems determined to stay in Miraflores, the White House of Caracas. He still enjoys the support of the military, of the Supreme Court (which he has packed with cronies), and of the powerful and notoriously corrupt national oil company, PDVSA. So it will be interesting to see how things develop in the days and weeks to come.

Defending Antifa at Queen’s University

David Menzies

On September 23, David Menzies of Canada’s Rebel Media introduced the world to yet another idiot professor of whose existence it had previously been innocent. Cynthia Levine-Rasky, an associate professor in the Department of Sociology at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, had written a letter to the editor to Toronto’s cooler-than-thou alternative weekly, Now, which was basically a billet doux to Antifa. “Many people,” she wrote, “are critical of the anti-fascist activists who protest white nationalist rallies….But they are taking risks that the rest of us will not.” They “mask up because white nationalists photograph and film them so they can identify them and attack them online and otherwise. Many anti-fascist protestors are young people with a lot to lose, including their jobs, their housing, their health, their future. We need to stop labelling these front-line activists since surely all of us are against white supremacy.”

Cynthia Levine-Rasky

Where to start? With the fact that “white nationalist rallies” of any significant size in North America are a fever dream of the far left, whose savviest members know very well that “white nationalism” is a chimera, even if a good many of the white, upper-middle-class college students and trust-fund malingerers who make up most of Antifa actually seem to believe, on some childlike, unreflecting level, that they are at war with millions of rabid racists, sexists, homophobes, transphobes, etc. Second, the conduct of Antifa makes it clear that they, and nobody else, are the major fascist phenomenon in North America today. They are not fighting fascists. They are fighting conservatives, libertarians, classical liberals, moderates, you name it – anyone who may happen to disagree with their radical lockstep boilerplate. They “mask up” because they do not have the courage of their convictions. If they really were brave, they wouldn’t give a toss about losing their jobs or housing. Their convictions are play convictions. They may think they are valiant fighters against capitalism, but they are sunlight warriors, summertime Spartacuses, playpen rebels, gathering en masse to smash the windows of Starbucks branches at which they may well later turn up, maskless, to order a cafe latte grande.

Clash in Charlottesville, 2017

Of course the argument that North America in 2018 is rife with white supremacism is based largely on a single event – the clash in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017 between motley crews of rightist and leftist activists. Yes, some of the rightists who were there were extremists – some were even neo-Nazis or members of the Ku Klux Klan. Some of the leftists, in the same way, were Stalinists, Maoists, anarchists. Neither extreme is attractive. Neither is conducive to individual freedom and intellectual diversity. But one thing is clear. The extreme right in America today is an extremely minimal and marginal phenomenon. The KKK’s heyday is long past. The neo-Nazis are not about to take over the U.S. By contrast, the radical left is thriving. Only Clinton-level political machinations prevented a socialist, Bernie Sanders, from winning the Democratic Party 2016 nomination for president of the United States.

Margaret Sanger

But Levine-Rasky doesn’t buy this. In a recent article, she argued that white supremacists are a clear and present danger, and noted that white supremacism was certainly a real power earlier in the history of the U.S. and Canada. She pointed out, for example, the onetime popularity of eugenics programs, which aggressive promoted birth control as a means of keeping down the reproduction of nonwhites. She’s right to indicate that this sort of thinking was indeed widespread back in the day. What she neatly omits to mention is that eugenics, as preached by Margaret Sanger and others, was an integral part not of conservative political programs but, rather, of the progressive movement that led to the formation of the modern American welfare state. The determination of progressives to make use of modern science to limit the number of black babies was rooted in the very same totalitarian urge to control and restrict that undergirds today’s Antifa movement.

Teddy Roosevelt

Levine-Rasky makes a big deal out of the fact that Teddy Roosevelt, a Republican, subscribed to this kind of thinking, but she omits to even admit that leftist heroes Wilson and FDR were far more worried about “polluting” of white America with the blood of other “races” than Teddy Roosevelt was. It should be recalled that Wilson, despite his image as a liberal-minded academic intellectual, was a vicious segregationist, while FDR locked up Japanese-Americans during World War II and refused to allow Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany into the U.S. In American today, the progressive obsession with group identity that made possible Wilson’s and FDR’s ugliest policies still exists not in today’s GOP but in the party of Obama and the Clintons – but you would never know that from Cynthia Levine-Rasky.

Oh no, there’s another one

Somebody figured out how much one of Ocasio-Cortez’s outfits cost

We had just about gotten used to the phenomenon of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the proudly socialist Democratic candidate for the U.S. Congress from New York’s 14th District, which covers the east Bronx and some of the cooler parts of northern Queens. What Ocasio-Cortez lacked in actual understanding of the issues and of the basic facts of economics (even though she majored in the subject at Boston University) she made up for with talk-show-ready attractiveness, charisma, stylishness, and charm. When it turned out that her stories of being raised in grinding poverty in the Bronx were nothing but spin – in fact, she grew up in Yorktown Heights, a leafy suburb in Westchester County – nobody cared.

Julia Salazar

Now along comes Julia Salazar, who on September 13 won the Democratic nod for the New York State Senate race in the 18th district, which covers most of northern Brookyn, including parts of the super-hip neighborhoods of Williamsburg and Greenpoint. Like Ocasio-Cortez, she’s a Latina who belongs to the Democratic Socialists of America, calls for the disbanding of ICE, and supports the anti-Israeli BDS movement.

Cynthia Nixon

Her primary victory came on a day that was otherwise disappointing for the far left in the Empire State: Sex and the City star Cynthia Nixon lost the gubernatorial primary and Zephyr Teachout was a washout in the race for attorney general. In The New Yorker, which doesn’t usually devote a lot of space to state-legislature primaries, Masha Gessen spent a couple of thousand words recording for posterity the thrilling night of Salazar’s win: at her victory party in an East Williamsburg bar, the atmosphere was “incredulously triumphant,” with a young, largely white crowd “celebrating, hooting and clapping, each group to its own beat. They sang a union song, “Solidarity Forever,” one verse of which, sung to the tune of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” goes like this:

Is there aught we hold in common with the greedy parasite
Who would lash us into serfdom and would crush us with his might?
Is there anything left to us but to organize and fight?
For the union makes us strong

Gessen acknowledged that in the weeks before the election, Salazar had “come under scrutiny: she self-identified as a working-class immigrant from Colombia and as a Jew, although she was born in Miami and was known as an evangelical-Christian anti-abortion activist during her time as an undergrad at Columbia University….There was also a bizarre incident involving Keith Hernandez’s ex-wife, an arrest for attempted identity theft (the charges were dropped), and a subsequent lawsuit that added fuel to the tabloid interest in Salazar.”

Masha Gessen

A more critical journalist might have paused to ponder the significance of Salazar’s wholesale misrepresentation of herself. Is she a compulsive liar? Is she a sociopath? Does she have any real core beliefs at all? But Gessen put her own special spin on Salazar’s systematic distortions of the truth: the young candidate’s campaign, wrote Gessen, “discovered something that the American President has known for a long time: communicating with people directly, whether by Twitter or by going door to door, takes precedence over anything that’s reported in the media.”

The real face of socialism

A curious take indeed: unlike Donald Trump, Salazar has not been the target of media bias, the subject of “fake news.” On the contrary, as Gessen’s own article exemplifies, mainstream journalists in the Big Apple are so enamored of her radical politics and her sexy-young-Latina-firecracker image that they’ve mainly been very eager to minimize, find excuses for, or tiptoe around her blatant falsehoods. The truth about Salazar’s primary win is that it represents a triumph of personality and trendy ideology over fundamental honesty and sound political thinking. Above all – and Gessen, who was born in the Soviet Union, should have recognized this and called it out – Salazar’s victory is one more lamentable proof that many young Americans are perilously ignorant of the tragic reality behind the word socialism. 

Cynthia Nixon, democratic socialist

Back to Cynthia Nixon, TV star (Miranda on Sex and the City to you) turned would-be governor of the great state of New York.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

On this site, we’ve already discussed the other self-identified socialist star of the hour, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, whose upset victory in the Democratic primary for a Bronx congressional district, made her a nationwide media sensation (and who has, as it happens, endorsed Nixon’s run). Since her win, Ocasio-Cortez has shown in innumerable interviews that she’s shockingly ignorant about basic facts of history and current events – in short, definitely not ready for prime time. But she’s only 28 years old. Her ignorance is forgivable – or, at least, more forgivable than it is in a woman twice her age.

Nixon and her wife, Christine Marinoni

Nixon is 52. How could a 52-year-old woman be so naive about the reality of socialism? Well, if you look through her background, the answer seems pretty clear. The daughter of an unemployed radio guy and a woman who worked on the TV game show To Tell the Truth, Nixon has been acting since she was 12, “often taking time away from school to perform in film and on stage.” It’s not hard to believe that she missed a lot of classes.

With her Sex and the City co-stars Kristin Davis, Kim Cattrall, and Sarah Jessica Parker

Her education, then, consisted largely of performing in a variety of films, plays, TV shows, and TV movies. To scan the list of early credits on her ImdB page is to imagine the ways in which these productions might have helped shape her picture of the world. The 1982 TV movie My Body, My Child argued for the morality of abortion. Robert Altman’s O.C. And Stiggs was an indictment of middle-class American life disguised as a teen comedy. The 1988 miniseries The Murder of Mary Phagan was about a factory worker convicted of murder and lynched in Georgia in 1915. Tanner ’88 recounted a noble left-wing Democrat’s failed run for president.

Nixon (left) in Tanner ’88

We’re not suggesting that acting in a movie or play means you share its writer’s opinions; we’re simply saying that it seems reasonable to posit that a young, spottily educated actor will inevitably be shaped by the ideologies that underpin the works in which she appears and which she spends weeks memorizing and (in the case of plays) weeks or months performing over and over again.

Not that you have to buy that theory. All you need to do is be aware that Nixon, an actress who has been praised frequently for her intelligent interpretations of characters, is less intelligent when it comes to real-life politics than when it comes to portraying persons other than herself. Of course, when it comes to that, she’s got a lot of company in Hollywood. Perhaps when you spend the most important, or at least the most intense, parts of your life in a totally pretend world, you’re not going to be particularly well informed about how the real world works, or well qualified to make pronouncements about how the real world should be run.

The new Nixon

Cynthia Nixon

Until recently, Cynthia Nixon was best known for playing Miranda on the HBO series Sex and the City and its big-screen movie spinoffs. Of the four women who were the main characters, Miranda was the sensible one. She was a serious-minded lawyer and, unlike her three friends, she didn’t fall instantly into bed with every guy who made a pass at her.

Though we may know better, we often think of famous actors as being more or less like the people they play. You could be forgiven, then, for assuming that Nixon is, in real life, a brainy, level-headed type. In recent months, however, Nixon has appeared to be on a one-woman mission to prove otherwise.

Andrew Cuomo

As a candidate for governor of New York State who is challenging the Democratic incumbent, Andrew Cuomo, from the left, Nixon has, not to put too fine a point on it, demonstrated to all and sundry that she is a world-class pinhead. On July 10, Politico published a statement by Nixon in which she admitted to being, in her own words, a “democratic socialist.”

“Some more establishment, corporate Democrats get very scared by this term but if being a democratic socialist means that you believe health care, housing, education and the things we need to thrive should be a basic right not a privilege then count me in,” Nixon wrote. “As Martin Luther King put it, call it democracy or call it democratic socialism but we have to have a better distribution of wealth in this country. I have long stood in support of a millionaires tax, Medicare for all, fully funding our public schools, housing for all and rejecting all corporation donations — all of which align with democratic socialist principles.”

Marc Molinaro

Nixon’s campaign confirmed that she wasn’t using her words lightly. Her handlers had been in touch with the Democratic Socialists of America. She feels that socialism is on the rise in America and, especially, in the Democratic Party – and she thinks it’s a terrific development. Marc Molinaro, the GOP candidate for New York governor, had a pointed response to that: “Millionaires like Cynthia Nixon may be able to dream about socialist paradises, but here in the real world, people can’t afford the taxes they have,” Molinaro said. “If Ms. Nixon thinks socialism is the answer, she should ask the people of Venezuela.”

More on Tuesday.

Forget Thelma and Louise: now it’s Sarandon and Sarsour

 

Susan Sarandon

On Tuesday we began covering the activist career of actress Susan Sarandon, who seems never to have met a murderer she didn’t love. One such figure, as we have seen, is Mumia Abu-Jamal, a cop-killer who, thanks to the efforts of Sarandon and others, became a worldwide cause celebre. Protests were held all over the planet. The city of Paris made Mumia an honorary citizen. Meanwhile, Maureen Faulkner, whose husband had been killed by Mumia, and had already had to live once through his trial, had to climb back on that horse – this time in an attempt to keep the killer in prison.

Maureen Faulkner

She had no stars on her side. She did it alone. In 1999, a journalist who’d interviewed Mumia years earlier let slip that Mumia, during their conversation, had actually admitted to murdering Faulkner’s husband – a fact that there had not, in any case, been any serious reason to doubt in the first place. Yet so committed were Sarandon and others to Mumia’s cause that this revelation did nothing to shake their faith in their hero. So it was that thanks to the puerile activism of Sarandon and company, Maureen Faulkner’s life was turned upside down not once but twice.

That wasn’t the last example of Sarandon’s soft spot for thugs. As a member of Actors and Artists United for the Freedom of the Cuban Five, she fought for the release from a U.S. prison of five spies for the Castro regime. Her confederates on that occasion included Ed Asner, Danny Glover, Elliott Gould, Pete Seeger, Martin Sheen, and Oliver Stone.

Sarandon and friends

Now 72, she’s still at it. On June 28, she was one of 575 activists arrested in Washington, D.C., while protesting outside the Hart Senate Office Building against the Trump Administration’s detention of illegal aliens and reinforcement of the Mexican border. “What do we want? Free families!” they chanted. Some carried signs bearing the hashtag #FamiliesBelongTogether, a reference to the practice of temporarily separating adults caught entering the country illegally from the children they bring with them – a practice that is blamed by the far left on Donald Trump, even though it predates his presidency, and that, in fact, often ends up rescuing children from adults who, though pretending to be their parents, are in fact trafficking them into the U.S. for nefarious reasons.

Sarandon and Sarsour

A picture taken at this protest, by the way, shows Sarandon seemingly joined at the hip with fellow “feminist” Linda Sarsour – a woman who is always wearing hijab, who doesn’t hide her enthusiasm for sharia, who is a vocal supporter of the BDS movement against Israel, who said that her “Arab pride was hurt” when the child-murdering Saddam Hussein was captured by U.S. forces, who solicited contributions for Hamas-linked “charities,” who charged that al-Qaeda’s 2009 “underwear bomber” was actually a CIA operative, and who won an “American Muslim of the Year” award from terrorist-tied CAIR (whose executive director, Nihad Awad, she affectionately called “Uncle Nihad”).

This is the company Sarandon keeps. The fact that she seeks out this kind of ally, combined with her execrable record of standing up for the likes of Jack Henry Abbott, Mumia Abu-Jabal, and Castro’s spies, should be enough to discredit her in the eyes of any sensible observer, no matter whether that observer identifies with the left or the right. But memories are short, and all too many people who consider themselves liberals or leftists continue to view this foolish old woman as a voice of conscience.

Idolizing a cop killer: Susan Sarandon

This website has been around for quite a while, but somehow we’ve never given Susan Sarandon her due. Sarandon, the Oscar-winning star of such movies as Pretty Baby, Atlantic City, Bull Durham, Thelma and Louise, and Dead Man Walking has also, over the years, made a name for herself as a left-wing activist.

Susan Sarandon

Come to think of it, “left-wing activist” is probably putting it too mildly. Sarandon has been an active participant in several Revolutionary Communist Party projects and front groups, including the anti-war organization Not in My Name and something called World Can’t Wait. She was a major booster of Occupy Wall Street and has collaborated with far-left New York mayor Bill de Blasio on plans for extensive wealth redistribution.

Jack Henry Abbott

Sarandon and her longtime partner, Tim Robbins – who shares her extreme views, and whose own misguided hijinks we hope to get around to on this site before too long – are so far out there that they actually named one of their children Jack Henry, after Jack Henry Abbott, a Communist forger, bank robber, and murderer whom novelist Norman Mailer help spring from prison in 1981 and who, six weeks later, without provocation, stabbed to death 22-year-old writer and playwright Robert Adan. (It occurs to us, just now, that this reprehensible episode has so fully faded from historical memory, and is so representative an example of the dangers of sentimental limousine radicalism, that we should probably recount it, too, in a future post on this site.)

Sarandon (center), with her son Jack Henry Robbins and Eva Amurri Martino

Abbott wasn’t the only murderer who drew Sarandon’s sympathy. She spent years as a leader of the nationwide campaign to release loathsome cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal from prison. Mumia, born Wesley Cook, was a former Black Panther who, thanks to the misguided support of Sarandon and others, became a poster boy for the fight against the death penalty – and, indeed, something a worldwide folk hero. Writing in Time Magazine in 1970, Steve Lopez told the tragic story of Maureen Faulkner, the widow of the Philadelphia police officer whom Mumia killed. Only 24 when her husband was murdered on duty in 1981, Faulkner left town and started her life over again in California – where, some years later, the weirdest thing started happening.

Mumia Abu-Jamal: yes, he killed a cop, but look, he’s cool, like Che Guevara!


“Suddenly, everywhere she turned, she saw her husband’s killer,” wrote Lopez. “She saw him on T shirts, on posters, on book covers, on television. He’d become an international celebrity, called a hero by some, compared to Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King Jr. by others.” Sarandon and other famous and powerful people – including fellow actors Paul Newman, Ed Asner, and Ossie Davis, authors Mailer, E.L. Doctorow, Gunther Grass, and Maya Angelou, the rock groups Rage against the Machine and the Beastie Boys, and no fewer than 22 members of the British Parliament – insisted that Mumia was innocent and demanded a new trial.

More on Thursday.

The ACLU today: leftism and lies

In our last couple of postings, we’ve been preoccupied with the transformation of the American Civil Liberties Union from an objective defender of free speech and civil liberties into yet another partisan tool for the left. The most prominent critic of this development has been Alan Dershowitz, the high-profile – and liberal – lawyer.

Wendy Kaminer

But Dershowitz hasn’t been alone. In a June article for the Wall Street Journal, Wendy Kaminer – who, like Dershowitz, is a former ACLU board member – cited a leaked memo about the ACLU’s current guidelines for taking on free-speech cases. Under those guidelines, the organization takes into account “the potential effect” of speech limits “on marginalized communities” and the “structural and power inequalities in the community in which the speech will occur.” Kaminer shook her head over all this, arguing that such thinking amounts to “a demotion of free speech in the ACLU’s hierarchy of values.”

Megan McArdle

That wasn’t all. On June 26, the Washington Post website ran a piece by Megan McArdle headlined “The ACLU’s divided heart.” McArdle began by paying tribute to the ACLU’s history: “Born out of the prosecutions of antiwar speech during World War I, the American Civil Liberties Union has spent the succeeding decades litigating and lobbying to protect speech rights for everyone, from communists to Nazis. Without the ACLU, Americans wouldn’t have some of the most robust civil liberties in the world.” McArdle also made a point that cannot be considered anything short of vital: “If the ACLU steps back from speech cases, no other organization is ready to pick up the torch, in part because the ACLU is so synonymous with free speech that it attracts much of the donor interest and legal talent in this area.” McArdle then summed up the problematic new guidelines that Kaminer had written about in the Journal.

Nadine Strossen

One might have expected that the leaking of these guidelines to the public would have caused David Cole, the ACLU’s legal director, to miss his stride. But he didn’t. Absurdly, he insisted that these kinds of considerations had entered into decision-making at the ACLU ever since its founding. Nonsense. Nadine Strossen, a former head of the ACLU who has been especially strident lately in her pretense that it’s the same organization it always has been (see, for example, her recent turn on Dave Rubin’s podcast), also stood her ground. But Ira Glasser, Strossen’s predecessor, called B.S. on her: “To deny that this departure from free speech policy is a departure is intellectually dishonest, an Orwellian smokescreen thrown up to obscure what they are doing.” McArdle agreed: the ACLU’s politically drenched new criteria are “inimical to the very ideals the ACLU was founded to protect.” Yep.

The ACLU: not only leftist, but dishonest about it

As we saw last Thursday, the celebrated lawyer Alan Dershowitz, an old-style liberal and former ACLU board member, has charged that organization with no longer being what it used to be – namely, a politically neutral, thoroughly objective defender of freedom of speech. Instead, he maintains, the ACLU is more fixated on opposing Trump than on standing up for the First Amendment.

Susan Herman

Predictably, ACLU officials dismissed Dershowitz’s claims. “I do not personally have any concern that our staff is acting in a partisan manner,” said ACLU president Susan Herman. “We have opposed partisan gerrymandering, for example, whether by Republicans in Wisconsin or Democrats in Maryland.” David Cole, the ACLU’s national legal director, defended the ACLU by going on the attack, accusing Dershowitz of focusing “virtually all of his energy on defending the asserted rights of the most powerful man in the U.S. and his personal lawyer.” Neither Herman nor Cole, however, had anything to say about their organization’s curious lack of involvement in one case after another involving the systematic repression of non-leftist speech on American college campuses.

David Cole

Moreover, only weeks after Herman and Cole insisted that the ACLU’s mission remained unchanged, the New Yorker reported, in its issue of June 8, that the organization was, in fact, “getting involved in elections — and reinventing itself for the Trump era.” Having been “fastidiously nonpartisan” for almost a century, the ACLU was now planning “to spend more than 25 million dollars on races and ballot initiatives by Election Day, in November.”

Alan Dershowitz

This announcement could not be seen as anything other than proof that Dershowitz was right – and that Herman and Cole were trying to have their cake and eat it too. As Dershowitz wrote in a June 11 article, today’s ACLU “wears only one shoe, and it is on its left foot….The only dispute is whether it supports the progressive wing of the Democratic Party or its more centrist wing. There is little doubt that most board members today support the progressive wing, though some think that even that wing is not sufficiently left. There is no longer any room in the ACLU for true conservatives who are deeply committed to neutral civil liberties. The litmus test is support for hard-left policies.”

Anthony Romero

We’ve heard from the ACLU’s “president” and from its “national legal director.” It also has a “director.” The man’s name is Anthony Romero, and Dershowitz describes him as a “radical leftist” who “refers to those of us who favor the ACLU traditional mission as ‘the old guard.’” In his June 11 piece, Dershowitz cited another critic of the 2018 version of the ACLU, Ira Glasser, who served as the group’s director from 1978 to 2001 and who now says that the ACLU’s course change “has the capacity to destroy the organization as it has always existed.” That seems to be a mild way of putting it. Dershowitz notes Glasser’s concern that a left-leaning ACLU would ignore violation of civil liberties by fellow leftists – even though, as Dershowitz puts it, “some of the greatest violations of civil liberties throughout history” have come from that quarter, notably FDR’s wartime internment of over 100,000 Japanese-Americans.

As it happens, Dershowitz and Glasser aren’t alone in pointing out – and lamenting – the ACLU’s left turn. More on Thursday.