The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has long been a bedrock of defending the basic constitutional rights of American citizens, but in recent years it has begun the shift away from some of these core fundamentals and has instead become a weapon in the culture wars. This latest episode is shocking, but speaks volumes about the scorched earth mentality of ‘woke’ identity politics which is currently devouring the Left in America, and if left unchecked, it threatens to upend many of the traditions and values enshrined in the United States Constitution.
Glenn Greenwald writes on Substack about “The Ongoing Death of Free Speech: Prominent ACLU Lawyer Cheers Suppression of a New Book.”
Free speech has always been more than a Constitutional guarantee: it’s also a crucial societal value. And it’s more imperiled than ever.
One of the effects of the ensuing intense controversies was that I was unable to finish an article I had been working on for months at the time: a lengthy, deeply reported examination of the internal war engulfing the ACLU, fueled by a raging conflict between its more traditional lawyers who still believe in the primacy of free speech and the need to defend it and the newer political liberal activists and lawyers who do not.
Among the people I interviewed was the organization’s long-time Executive Director, Anthony Romero, who was forced to navigate the post-Charlottesville controversy with a series of increasingly confusing statements designed to appease not only public and donor anger over the defense by ACLU lawyers of the right of white supremacists to march (after one killed a protester with his car) but also internal rage that ACLU lawyers took that free speech case. Romero insisted to me that the ACLU had not retreated from its historic commitment to free speech nor its resolve to avoid partisan politics despite a series of post-Charottesville memos and a highly-funded election campaign that certainly gave the opposite appearance.
Numerous ACLU staffers told me that one of the most vocal and effective advocates for a more “nuanced” free speech approach was Chase Strangio, the ACLU’s Deputy Director for Transgender Justice of its LGBT & HIV Project, who I also interviewed. I knew Strangio as an excellent lawyer who earned my admiration from his years of dedication representing WikiLeaks whistleblower Chelsea Manning, and I joined him once at the ACLU headquarters for a videotaped discussion of that case. A measure of Strangio’s massive influence is his inclusion in this year’s TIME 100 list, with a tribute from actress Laverne Cox.
(…) The recent protest by Spotify employees over Joe Rogan’s podcast was triggered in large part by his decision to invite Shrier onto his program. Many liberal employees inside the streaming service demanded this episode be removed. “Many LGBTQAI+/ally Spotifiers feel unwelcome and alienated because of leadership’s response in [Rogan’s] conversations,” was one of the questions posed to Spotify’s CEO at a tense staff-wide meeting, along with a demand to know why that program had not been deleted from the platform…
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