Wednesday, May 24, 2006


ACLU Imitates Scrappleface

How does that go, Life imitates the Onion? This time, it’s the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) imitates Scrappleface.

The New York Times reports that the ACLU moves to halt free speech internally:

"Where an individual director disagrees with a board position on matters of civil liberties policy, the director should refrain from publicly highlighting the fact of such disagreement," the committee that compiled the standards wrote in its proposals.

"Directors should remember that there is always a material prospect that public airing of the disagreement will affect the A.C.L.U. adversely in terms of public support and fund-raising," the proposals state.

Given the organization's longtime commitment to defending free speech, some former board members were shocked by the proposals.

Nat Hentoff, a writer and former A.C.L.U. board member, was incredulous. "You sure that didn't come out of Dick Cheney's office?" he asked.

Note the gratuitous swipe at the Vice President, retained in the Times piece for, well, because it’s a swipe at the Vice President.

I suppose it is refreshing to see the Times spending some small amount of “equal time” exposing the bureaucratic pettiness and infighting at liberal bastions, taking a break from its usual treatment of Intelligence agencies.

The ending of this insider’s hit piece concludes with a quote from ACLU board member David F. Kennison. Kennison reaches for metaphor that, sadly, is all too revealing of the mindset of this once noble institution:

"I think of the board as the brain and the staff as the fang and the claws," he said, "and the brain should govern the fangs and claws rather than the other way around."

Via Instapundit, who observes that this turn of events for the civil liberties watchdog is “rather ironic.”

Glenn remarks on the decline of the ACLU as exemplified by the squabble related in the Times piece:

The ACLU has been corrupted by its dependence on a comparatively small fundraising base, something that's common with nonprofits. The organization also seems to have been captured by the paid staff, which feels entitled to run things without the Board's actual input. That's another common problem in the nonprofit world. But this is making clear just how far things have gone at the ACLU, at the expense of its ostensible mission.

I think there’s a more widespread, generalized pattern in the world of non-profits that especially affects organizations like the ACLU.

Flashback to your average university, steeped in liberal ideology, offering nothing more logically substantive than liberal arts programs, multiculturalism, and the vestiges of political correctness.

Students have long ago freed themselves from the rigor of the study of Western classics, and if not full fledged acolytes upon entry, by graduation most have adopted the lazy scorn of mathematics, science, and business and industry. Nowhere in their studies did they practice, demonstrate, and certainly not master forms of logic or inductive or deductive reasoning.

In short, their high priced educations failed them, and they were oblivious and happy in the failing.

But there comes a time in every student’s life when he must confront the work-a-day world and the necessity of salary. Unless gifted with such parental largess that work can be hobby, the student must find a job. Such crises this need inspires!

As the prospective employee surveys his prospects, none look appealing. “Why can’t I find a job that involves doing something I love, like reading or chatting, maybe find some cause I of which I can be a part?”

And just as these students – such a vast multitude of students in the years between Vietnam and George Bush – come to the point of this decision, a particular artifact of bureaucratic invention and tax code manipulation comes into being: The Non-Profit Organization (NPO).

NPOs have flourished in this time of Me and My Ideals, organizations formed for the purposes of avoiding otherwise gainful employment. As long as it’s fun, I can hang out with like-minded idealists, and I can get paid pretty well for well, caring, the NPO made great sense for a lot of these liberal arts graduates. Way too many, in fact. More than there were positions to fill.

You may be forgiven for thinking the NPOs exist to serve their cause, whatever it may be. But you’d be wrong, that’s surely not their primary mission.

Their primary mission is to create jobs for these poor souls who find math and science way too hard, business way too demeaning, and military service way too violent, man.

The ACLU, as a kind of plum job of all plum NGO placements, was going to fall victim to the flaws of those “public servants” they inevitably attracted. People who viewed other institutions as so much less important. Government as oppressive and evil. Corporations as greedy and evil. Conservatives as racists and evil. Republicans as all that and more.

People who knew deep down, that anything that sounded right must be right, other people who disagreed were stupid or manipulated, and anyway, we work at the ACLU, and that’s cool!

Linked at: Milblogs, Stop the ACLU

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