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Newsweek (yes, that’s still a thing) opens a piece this morning with this gem: “Since its founding during a period of anti-communist paranoia in 1920, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has served as a reliable line of defense for those who find their constitutional freedoms under threat.” What they somehow fail to mention is that while the civil rights org has, in fact, been strong on certain civil liberties like free speech, due process and unreasonable searches, the ACLU has also been strangely absent when the right being violated is the one that mentions keeping and bearing arms.

(S)ometimes, the group has decided to defend people who its liberal supporters find less palatable. In a 1934 pamphlet, entitled “Shall We Defend Free Speech for Nazis in America?” the group defended its choice to stand up for German-American Nazis who wanted to hold meetings in the U.S. “Is it not clear that free speech as a practical tactic, not only as an abstract principle, demands the defense of all who are attacked in order to obtain the rights of any?” its justification read.

So yes, they’ve been appropriately protective of the civil rights of d-bags and scum unpopular groups like Communists, Nazis and the KKK (remember Skokie?) whose basic tenets are antithetical to a (small L) liberal democracy. The Bill of Rights doesn’t have any exception clauses. Well, other than the un-written one that results in ACLU attorneys overlooking individuals’ Second Amendment rights, that is.

On Thursday, the ACLU made a statement specifying that it would not defend groups that wanted to incite violence or march “armed to the teeth,” the Los Angeles Times reported.

“We review each request for help on a case-by-case basis, but take the clear position that the 1st Amendment does not protect people who incite or engage in violence,” the statement, from three California ACLU affiliates, said.

“If white supremacists march into our towns armed to the teeth and with the intent to harm people, they are not engaging in activity protected by the United States Constitution,” the statement continued. “The 1st Amendment should never be used as a shield or sword to justify violence.”

The message is clear: protected or not, asserting your Second Amendment right negates the ACLU’s support of your First Amendment right. Never mind that the Founders considered neither superior to the other. Both are enumerated civil rights considered indispensable to a free society.

We hold no brief for jackbooted Nazis, racist KKK wanna-be’s (or black-clad masked antifa thugs who riot and pummel those with opposing views, for that matter). If they want to protest, shout their slogans and show the world how truly reprehensible they are, so much the better. Sunshine is a wonderful disinfectant.

If they turn violent, prosecute the hell out of them — all of them — to the fullest extent of the law.

But with its recent announcement, the ACLU has, once again, revealed exactly who and what they really are. A left-wing group that selectively defends only the civil rights of which they approve. Same as it ever was.


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  1. I’d go with The American Center for Law & Justice. But I’d “use” the ACLU fwiw…

    • The ACLU is a private organization, and it’s primary focus has always been on free speech issues. As a private organization, they can do whatever they want, as long as they do not discriminate against a protected class.

      If they feel that openly bearing arms at a protest makes a person ineligible for their support, then that’s entirely up to them. I don’t particularly agree with them on that, but it’s their party, and they can cry if they want to.

      • The American Criminal Lovers Union, or ACLU, has never supported free speech. The support of the Nazi and KKK in the 1970’s was a attempted use of a Fig Leaf, to cover their racist/communist views of american society. They have always supported armed klansmen marching through black neighborhoods. But they don’t support black or white Christians. They have always support the racist. White or Black. They prefer the black racist with weapons.

        People believe they support Free Speech because to them pornography is the only free speech they care about. Robert Mapplethorpe was their favorite.

      • Oh please, not again with this “private organization can do what they want” canard which is inevitably pulled out in response to criticism. No one is saying the ACLU should be thrown in jail or fined, so that is completely irrelevant.

        We have the right to criticize private organizations, refuse to associate with them, and urge others not to associate with them. Freedom of speech goes both ways.

  2. A common assumption is, of course, that merely having a gun in one’s possession is proof enough that violence and intimidation IS the sole object and result. The fact that people so seldom actually act that way is irrelevant to the pearl clutchers and their enablers.

    Expecting the ACLU to stop being enablers for the control freaks is a lost cause…

    • This. The ACLU is assuming that armed white supremacists = inciting or engaging in violence. Without actually saying that, their statement is nonsense. It doesn’t have anything to do with what’s been going on.

    • This is the new normal. The media has whipped up a full blown moral panic. While Republicans are in a circle jerk trying to disavow imaginary Nazis, all these Leftist companies and institutions are moving the goal posts to disenfranchise the Right. Tech companies are targeting unpopular websites and taking them down. the free speech competitor of twitter got removed from Google play. Companies like Uber, Airbnb, even OKCupid (a dating site :O) are targeting people and banning them. Just wait until the next high profile cop or “white hispanic” shooting. There are going to be shenanigans with setting up a defense fund, lawyer won’t be able to book hotel room or a ride, etc. The Republicans had better come down hard on this bullshit while they are still in power or they can kiss their precious civic nationalism good-bye.

  3. Honest question: I haven’t heard of any firearms having been discharged by protestors in Charlottesville, and I’m sure that such would have been all over the news had it occurred.

    Were any shots fired?

    If not, why is the presence of firearms (knowing that they would be assaulted by people like Professor Bikelock) relevant?

    The whole “white nationalist” movement is reprehensible, don’t get me wrong, but this seems like a weird hill for the ACLU to die on.

    Then again, after decades of being opposed to federal prosecution when state criminal charges have failed, the ACLU specifically supported the DoJ’s attempts to go after (the jackass) George Zimmerman, so I guess the new management has decided to cash out their bona fides for current-day political relevance.

    • Why is George Zimmerman a “jackass”? Because he called the police on a young criminal (Martin was a troubled kid who’d bounced from family member to family member, had a history of drug use, violence, and dealing in stolen property) in a neighborhood which was under siege by young black criminals who looked just like him?

      Is he a jackass because he wanted to see where said criminal type ran off to and was ambushed and sucker-punched for his trouble?

      Or is he a jackass because the media turning him into the most hated man in America and placing a big ol’ target on his back may have caused him to go a bit nuts?

      Let’s not forget that a man is currently in prison for shooting at Zimmerman in traffic .

      The George Zimmerman case is the most important and eye-opening legal case in the last 15 years. A man who was fully legal in his actions—and was initially treated legally by the State’s Attorney and his local PD—had his life ruined by the media and a government which caved to the threats of an unruly mob.

      Rick Scott is an embarrassment. His decision to appoint Angela Corey just to hold a show trial with an outcome anyone with even a cursory knowledge of the law could foresee cost the taxpayers millions and ruined the lives of the entire Zimmerman family.

      They are still living in fear. And that could happen to any one of us who carries a gun. Right now is a perfect time for the media to create another Zimmerman. I can imagine that if some white guy in a Trump shirt defends himself against some thug with pictures of him as a smiling 12 year old available the cycle can repeat itself.

  4. “If white supremacists march into our towns armed to the teeth and with the intent to harm people, they are not engaging in activity protected by the United States Constitution,” the statement continued. “The 1st Amendment should never be used as a shield or sword to justify violence.”

    While I disagree strongly with them that carrying a weapon is the same as using it, they have made a powerful statement regarding ANTIFA. Substitute “ANTIFA” for “white supremacist” and you have the ACLU position on the extreme leftists who show up with pepper spray, bats, makeshift flamethrowers, cans filled with concrete, and various containers filled with…more odoriferous material. So, all ANTIFA members who show up armed are not entitled to protest, according to the ACLU.

    • If the weapons were not pointed at anyone and were merely being possessed by securing to the body, where is the intent to use them as a weapon to hurt anyone? Possessing a “legal” weapon is allowed by the Constitution. Intent does not equal possession and possession does not equal intent. An act of furtherance is required to prove intent, such as pointing it at someone.

  5. Why do I suspect that the sub-text to this is effectively “If you carry a gun you’re a violent alt-right nutjob and we don’t care about any of your rights”?

  6. Dan, thank you for this article. As a libertarian I frequent the things that matter to me, firearms and the liberty/right to keep and bear them being one of them, and I have to say that your article here has more accurately critiqued that situation than most of the supposedly libertarian sites that I read.

    Most of course just went down the road of the MSM and blamed only the white supremacists, while completely ignoring and/or exonerating the “counter protesters”, i.e. Antifa/BLM.

    While one group chanted “Blood and Soil” and other such ridiculousness, their chants never equated to: “bash the fash”, “punch a nazi in the face” or “What do we want? Dead cops! When do we want it? Now!”, that the BLM/Antifa folks have been spouting.

    The only thing I would add is that Nazism and/or Fascism isn’t even a right wing ideology, it’s left wing right along with socialism and communism. So even if these goons are calling themselves “alt right” all it does is prove that they are also ignorant and uneducated on the facts.

    But kudos to you for at least mentioning what you did in the article. Thank you.

    • NAZI = National Socialist German Worker’s Party
      American leftists are, for the most part, American Nazis. They are quite nationalistic in that they want the government to rigidly enforce THEIR rules.

      • The differences between a Nazi and a Communist is that Nazis are nationalists and Communists are globalists. Also Nazis are racist. Communists commit genocide for entirely race neutral reasons. Hurray for Communists?

        • Communist leaders often (but not always) commit genocide because communist governments invariably degenerate to a cult of personality around a central leader, who will strive to retain power at all costs. The worse the leader, the greater the genocide.

  7. “Since its founding during a period of anti-communist paranoia in 1920, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has served as a reliable line of defense for those who find their constitutional freedoms under threat.”

    Let’s be clear about something. It wasn’t “anti-communist paranoia.” The ACLU was founded by communists to protect communists. Roger Baldwin was a communist who wanted to change the government of this country. He was an internationalist who didn’t believe in national sovereignty. He worked to help communists charged of crimes. He aligned with Russia.

    The quote from the ACLU is about as crazy as saying that the War Department of the United States was beefed up in a period of anti Nazi or anti Shinto “paranoia.”

  8. So….. Who are the protesters? THe people holding the3 rally? Or the armed thugs that show up to assault (oops, I mean “counter-protest”)??

    Sounds like they won’t be defending ANTIFA???

    Got it……

  9. What a bunch of hypocrites. They rightly defend pieces of crap like the Klan in matters concerning free speech but would turn their backs on even a decent person concerning gun rights.

  10. I’ve talked to a lawyer high up in the ACLU organization, and when I asked why they NEVER support someone’s 2nd Amendment rights, why he was sure they had. Of course he couldn’t think of a single case where they done so.

    This isn’t news. The ACLU supporting someone’s 2nd Amendment rights would be news.

  11. TTAG had better have a disaster recovery plan for when the anti-gun groups pressure your web hosting company to drop your site. As soon as there is another mass shooting they are going to try it. This moral panic against the right is just getting started and we know people like Shannon are trying to label all white gunowners as “nazis.”

  12. This is a timely post. I have been defending the Nazis and their other white supremacist, white nationalist, etc. counterparts to the point that some of my friends and family are ready to disown me. It doesn’t matter, I said. Their right to free speech and free assembly is the core of the issue, and it doesn’t matter how horrible and repugnant they are. They are being denied their rights by violent protestors. The demonstrators are armed to the teeth, yet not one shot was fired, even as the protesters maced them and hit them with bricks and clubs. This is all about violent thugs claiming anti-hate as a valid excuse to intimidate and threaten the First Amendment.

    Then I watched the VICE News expose. If you haven’t watched it, you should. Especially the end. The leaders of that demonstration knew exactly what they were doing. Everything was calculated to incite the visceral and violent reactions they received. This is a case of knowing your enemy, and the Alt-Right assholes know the wackos on the left are unstable. They know exactly what will happen when they tug on those strings. And at the end of the video, one of the leaders makes a very clear, inarguable call to arms and violence. I’d like to see what everyone else thinks, but in my mind, this is no longer an issue of free speech. They’re trying to start a war. They just want to goad the other side into firing the first literal shots.

  13. I don’t agree with the white nationalist psychos.

    But ANTIFA does not give a crap about defending race rights. Anti-fa is just as evil, disgusting and racists as the other side the oppose.

    The irony is that every single member of Anti-fa is a white adult or college-age kid from high-income to wealthy families with left-wing beliefs.

    As someone who accidentally stumbled on a free speech rally. I’ve witnessed these “tolerant” left nuts verbally and physically assault blacks, latinos, asians calling them racial slurs and their other favorites such as a calling a black woman a “nazi” while beating her within an inch of her life, assaulting an interracial couple calling the husband (a hispanic male) a “white supremacist”. And the other people they harmed were homeless people, the physically disabled, the elderly, random civilians and even children.

    But the media won’t even report that.

    • Nope. The only thing that makes you a white supremacist is whether or not you are a white supremacist.

      But let’s say all the white supremacists started wearing apricot do-rags tomorrow. If you also chose to wear an apricot do-rag, then you might be mistaken for a white supremacist.

      I don’t like it when white supremacists carry weapons at rallies, because the greater public leaps to the conclusion that anybody with a gun is a white supremacist, just as they would leap to the conclusion that anybody with an apricot do-rag was a white supremacist.

      • The only constant I find to be true is people see what they want to see.

        So I’m not going to alter my behavior because I’m worried a person will label me in whatever way fits their political agenda — they will do it anyway.

        All I can do is be self aware and think about how my behavior can be taken out of context, but it’s a losing battle because the media already is biased against gun ownership.

        Long before recent events and Dallas, protests have always been potentially deadly affairs. The shock and virtual signaling outrage at recent events just highlights the ignorance of young modern protestors have towards history.

        I would never go to a protest unarmed — not when the extremists on both sides have made it clear they are willing to use violence.

        The failure, in my opinion, is the non existent or slow responding law enforcement. Beef up their presence and make arrests, don’t just stand around.

        Our tax dollars hard at work…

  14. Last time I checked, the ACLU (conveniently) considers the 2A to protect a collective right because the org officially misunderstands the purpose of the prefatory clause.

    • I’ve always been puzzled by what is meant by a “collective right”, as opposed to a power held by the state. I suspect there is, in fact, no practical difference, and that anybody claiming something is a collective right means that it isn’t a right at all.

  15. Someone should call them up Faking that they are ‘the black panthers” and might need legal help with a “armed’ march and see what happens??

    ahh the fun things in life!

  16. It was not just neo nazis that were armed other groups were armed including leftist Redneck Revolt. But you do not here about that from mainstream media as that does no “fit the narrative”. You do notice that no one who open carried a firearm was punched or clubbed.

    • Redneck Revolt isn’t leftist. They’re explicity anti-racist and that’s it. Their membership includes people across a broad political spectrum. They’re only “leftists” if “leftist” means anyone who is anti-racism, which it doesn’t. I was actually curious to see if TTAG would do a write up on them. Most of what they talk about is community defense. Again, they’re non-partisan and neither right or left aligned. Hell, they have gun clubs.

  17. The ACLU has never been about liberty. But if sodomy and drugs are your interest, then the ACLU has always been for you.

    It has never been for liberty.

  18. The most predictable path to hypocrisy and corruption for a “civil rights” company platform is when the shift occurs from a neutral mission statement into whatever statement yields the most profit.

  19. Well, the ACSJ – Amercian Coalition for Social Justince hasn’t been supporting individual agency for a couple decades at least. You can’t have guns: that makes you autonomous and empowered, almost as if you own your own life.

    I had some fun the last, and so far final, time the ACSJ ACLU contacted me for a donation. Working to protect everyone’s natural rights from authoritarian intrustion – cool. Working to leverage the enforcers to inflict some notion of “justice” at odds with what people do on their own … I do not think those words mean what you think they mean.

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