“Because freedom can’t protect itself.”

That's the slogan of the ACLU.

In 1977, Frank Collin, the leader of the National Socialist Party of America, wanted to have a parade.  But not just any parade.  He wanted to wear finest Nazi regalia, carry his swastika-adorned flag, and goosestep his way down the main street of Skokie, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, a town with a large Jewish population, including many Holocaust survivors.  As a Jewish teenager, I was outraged at this assault on the Jewish community.  How could such a terrible thing be allowed to happen?

And to add insult to injury, I learned that the ACLU was supporting Collin and his party.  They even went to court to oppose the injunction that had been issued against the march. 

Thanks, in part, to the ACLU’s efforts, the National Socialist Party of America was granted the right to march through Skokie, though they wisely chose to parade through the streets of Chicago instead. 

The efforts of the ACLU.


The American Civil Liberties Union. 

The people who were supposed to stand up for our freedoms were supporting Nazis? 

It was puzzling, to say the least.  Many in the Jewish community wanted to withdraw their support of the ACLU because of Skokie. 

I thought the leaders of the ACLU were crazy, I thought they were reprehensible.

I never thought I’d support the ACLU, much less that I’d actually join …

But here I am, a card-carrying member of the ACLU.


Because our civil liberties are paramount.

If Constitutional guarantees are to have any meaning, they must apply to all of us.  Every voice must be heard, even the voices taking positions with which we can never agree.  Even the rights of those who advocate depriving others of their rights and freedoms must be protected. Ironic, isn't it?

Sometimes doing the right thing can be difficult.  Sometimes the ACLU supports the rights of people we find unappealing.  But if one group of citizens has its right curtailed, all of us suffer.  All of us are at risk of losing our rights, our liberties, if some of us are deprived of those rights.

Forty years after Skokie, on January 21, 2017, I stood on the National Mall and protested the abhorrent policies of a president who would deprive so many of my fellow citizens of their rights and freedoms.   A president whose executive orders attempt to codify racial and religious discrimination, in violation of the Constitutional guarantees we have lived by for 228 years.  As I stood there, in the shadow of the Capitol, I knew I knew I could express my views freely, that the ACLU had my back. 

We are living in a scary new world, where the rights of Muslims, immigrants, the LGBTQ community, minorities, women, and just about  anyone who dares disagree with the president are on the line.  Where the administration seeks to the reverse the direction we've been heading,  to take away hard-won rights.  Travel bans, deportation forces, “bathroom bills”, online privacy, reproductive rights, even the right to peaceable assembly, virtually all our civil liberties are under assault. 

And the ACLU is there.  Go to and you will see all of their current issues and projects:  (1) Discrimination against immigrants and Muslins; (2) North Carolina’s “bathroom bill”; (3) the “deportation force”; (4) the potential de facto banning of abortion in Kentucky; (5) Jeff Sessions and Russia; (6) labelling protesters as “domestic terrorists”.  And that’s just the home page of the ACLU website.

They are also offering advice to criminal defense attorneys on how to defeat the FBI’s large -scale hacking via overbroad search warrants; they are seeking to prevent Arkansas’ “execution assembly line”; and they want to protect and support Planned Parenthood.

The core of our democracy has been shaken by the evens of the past few months.  We cannot allow our leaders to deprive us of our basic freedoms.

Looks like the ACLU will be a bit busy for the next few years.
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  1. Hello from Idaho, and there actual a few card carrying ACLU members here. I wouldn't call them overly out spoken.
    Found a link to your blog from Song bird. If you fine the time stop in for a cup of coffee

  2. I read that they're getting all sorts of donations now. This is a good thing.

  3. If I'm remembering correctly, they received as much in February (because of the travel ban) as they usually do in six years.


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