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Communist background of the American Civil Liberties Union

By Charles A. Morse
web posted July 9, 2001

The latest outrage involving the ACLU, covered by columnist Gregory J. Hand in Enter Stage Right (7/2), is the rescinding of an invitation to Mr. Justice Clarence Thomas to debate ACLU President Nadine Strossen at the Davis-Levin First Amendment Conference in Hawaii this summer. Not by any means an isolated incident, this is the latest in a long tradition of outrages going back to the founding of the organization and should be viewed in that context. A brief examination of the Communist background of the ACLU sheds light on an agenda that seems to champion isolated portions of the Constitution for self-serving purposes. They often take the Constitution out of context so as to champion strange cases that seem to favor an outcome that reinforces authoritarian government control. They more often than not favor the dictatorial concept of appointed Judges creating legislation from the bench.

Daphne Barbee-Wooten, wrote to her fellow directors on the Hawaii ACLU board the following regarding Thomas;

"Faye Kennedy, Eric Ferrer and I are the only African-Americans in the Hawaii ACLU chapter...We strongly object to ACLU bringing and sponsoring Clarence Thomas to Hawaii... Bringing Clarence Thomas sends a message that the Hawaii ACLU promotes and honors black Uncle Toms who turn their back on civil rights."

"Uncle Tom," was an old Communist term to describe any African-American who either opposed the Communist agenda or who had become "bourgeois," or, heaven forbid, economically successful. This is exactly what Barbee-Wooten meant by calling the Supreme Court Justice an Uncle Tom. This unctuous hypocrite has, no doubt, benefited more than amply from the economic system she seeks to tear down for others, particularly for members of her own race. How ironic that Barbee-Wooten would be making decisions over a first amendment conference, presumably, dealing with free speech issues. Ironic for the rest of us, no problem for the dialectical left.

Fellow board member Eric Ferrer, while discussing the Thomas invitation, called Thomas "an anti-Christ, a Hitler." As an American, and as a Jew, I am offended by a comparison of Clarence Thomas to Hitler. Such idiocy requires no further comment. What's interesting, however, is the hysterical hate this man expresses for what Thomas represents which are American ideals of achievement and success. Like his ACLU colleague, he must be consumed with an unbending hatred for this Republic of ours, a Republic that has afforded him a standard of living that, no doubt, most of the rest of us could only dream of achieving.

Anarchist Roger Baldwin founded the ACLU in 1919, after his release from prison where he served a sentence for draft evasion, at a party attended by Socialist Party notable Norman Thomas, future Communist Party chairman Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, and Soviet agent Agnes Smedley. In 1920, Rev. Harry Ward, the Red Dean of the Union Theological Seminary was Chairman, Baldwin was director, and Communist publisher Louis Budenz, who would later go on to testify against Communism, director of publicity. Other Communist and radical founders included William Z. Foster, author of "Toward Soviet America," Harold J. Laski, Morris Hilquit, A.J.Muste, Scott Nearing, Eugene V. Debs, and John Dewey. The 1930's membership would include such radicals and change agents as Vito Marcantonio, Haywood Broun, Corliss Lamont, and Bishop G. Bromley Oxnan. The 1940's roll would include George S. Counts, Norman Cousins, Melvyn Douglas, Robert M. Hutchins, and Freda Kirchwey. Most prominent American luminaries of the left were, and are, members of the ACLU.

On January 17, 1931, the Special House (of Representatives) Committee to Investigate Communist Activities in the United States issued a report which stated the following:

"The American Civil Liberties Union is closely affiliated with the communist movement in the United States, and fully 90% 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 to attempt to protect the communists in their advocacy of force and violence to overthrow the Government, replacing the American flag with a red flag and erecting a Soviet Government in place of the republican form of government guaranteed to each State by the Federal Constitution...Roger N. Baldwin, its guiding spirit, makes no attempt to hide his friendship for the communists and their principles"

In 1935, Baldwin wrote the following in his college yearbook:

"I have been to Europe several times, mostly in connection with international radical activities...and have traveled in the United States to areas of conflict over workers rights to strike and organize. My chief aversion is the system of greed, private profit, privilege and violence which makes up the control of the world today, and which has brought it to the tragic crisis of unprecedented hunger and unemployment...Therefore, I am for Socialism, disarmament and ultimately, for the abolishing of the State itself...I seek the social ownership of property, the abolition of the propertied class and sole control of those who produce wealth. Communism is the goal."

Space won't allow further examination of the mountains of fascinating material regarding the ACLU, so a follow-up article would be in the offing at a future date. Suffice it to say that there is no reason to assume that the principles and goals of the ACLU, set in place by its founders, have changed much over the years. They have simply become much more polished and cagey in their presentation. This most recent insult to our Supreme Court Justice, and, clearly, to our form of government, is a clear example of the mask temporarily slipping off to reveal a glimpse of the true face of the ACLU.

Chuck Morse is the author of "Why I'm a Right-Wing Extremist" to be released in September.

Other related articles: (open in a new window)

  • The hypocrisy of the ACLU by Dr. Jeremy Blanks (July 3, 2000)
    The American Civil Liberties Union deserves praise for some of the fights they've undertaken on behalf of the U.S. Constitution, but their position on the Second Amendment is purely hypocritical, writes Dr. Jeremy Blanks

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