Words fail me.

I actually saw this on a bumper sticker this afternoon. Everytime I try and figure out what is trying to be said here, I get a headache and move on to something else.

Let me see if I can summarize these things a bit. First, who the heck is the ACLU, and what do they really do? According to their “about” page:

The ACLU is our nation’s guardian of liberty. We work daily in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States. Our job is to conserve America’s original civic values – the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

Okay, sounds pretty good. So, these guys are there to defend the rights of the individual vs the centralized authoritarian government by providing a check and balance against unquestioned dictates. So, I suppose in some ways an argument could be made that they are in fact the enemy of the “state”, in that they are there to counterbalance it. Note I say counterbalance, not overthrow, but I digress, which to me is an important distinction… but I digress.

Now, this particular bumper sticker replaces the ‘C’ with the symbol of the former soviet bloc, the ‘sickle and hammer’, representing, we assume here, the tenets of communism. The implication here is that the ACLU is a communist front, bent on overthrowing the US through it’s anti-authoritarian (and, by implication, it’s anti government) policies.

Okay, so lets look at what that means…

According to wikipedia, the definition of ‘communism’ is:

Communism, or communist society, is the name of the social formation that, according to Marx, would be a classless society in which all property is owned by the community as a whole, and where all people enjoy equal social and economic status.

I’m having a hard time connecting these two concepts, at least in the methodology that is implied in that bumper sticker. “Enemy of the state”, okay, someone who wants to bring down the state power. ACLU, a body that opposes centralized authoritarian rule when checks and balances aren’t in place… er, that’s a stretch, but I guess I might see that…

But… this bumper sticker is offered up as emblematic of the views presented by the ‘right wing’ crowd. The ones who detest central authority over local issues and personal details. The very private rights tha the ACLU is sworn to defend.

I’m so confused.


A wandering geek. Toys, shiny things, pursuits and distractions.

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4 thoughts on “Words fail me.

  1. you know. the commies are the bad guys. and anyone who wants to keep you from being a racist asshole is a bad guy. therefore they’re commies. right?

  2. so, this is probably way too involved, but i’m procrastinating on studying.
    first off, your assertion that the right wing is focused on individual rights and keeping the government out of our business is only half right. remember that there are two axes here that we have to deal with: fiscal and social. the Republican party (which i’m sort of equating with ‘the right wing’, though i understand this might be a bit of a stretch) is very fiscally conservative, which is to say that they’re generally in favor of smaller government with less intereference in the financial dealings of its constituents (businesses especially, but individuals as well). social conservatives, on the other hand, would in fact tend to agree with your statement — the government has no business telling me what i can and cannot do. but fiscal conversatives, i think, make up a much larger proportion of the right wing, and those who do stray a bit towards the social conservativism side tend to do so only for a few hot-button issues. i call the right wing tendency to prefer the government to meddle in the ethical affairs of its citizens ‘social liberalism’, which may not agree with anyone else’s take. it does, however, explain the tendency of the Bush administration to oppose gun control but promote a Constitutional amendment to restrict marriage by gender.
    i have a much weaker point to make about the Democrats, so i’ll skip that one for now. fwiw, though, you’ll find a much higher proportion of social conservatives amongst the Libertarians than you do amongst the Republicans. they mix it with fiscal conservativism as well though, which is to say not only does the government have no right to tell me what i do, but it also has no right to the money that i’ve earned, or to tell me what to do with that money. in the extreme cases, these are the folks who are in favor of all ‘government’ services being privately provided, including transportation, infrastructure, and health care, which makes sense since the government will have basically no money to spend on such things.
    as far as associating the ACLU with communism, all you have to do is look at it this way: the US Constitution makes some effort to guarantee that everybody has an equal shot, right? communism is just the logical extreme of the ‘everyone is equal’ viewpoint. thus, by fighting to protect anti-discrimination laws and promoting equal rights, the ACLU is really advocating communism.
    having said all that, i agree with Scott. the ACLU has done some stupid stuff in their time, but they’re hardly interested in the destruction of the American state.

  3. It’s a mistake to characterize the right wing as being interested in small government. Maybe that was true when the Republcian party was nominating Barry Goldwater or Ronald Reagan, but under Bush, the size of government, even leaving out the parts connected to defense spending, has grown more than under any President since LBJ. You can get a nice sense of this by looking at the chart Kevin Drum made.
    And, as Cat notes, a lot of alleged small-government types are happy to see a lot of interference in how people run their lives. I don’t even thnk many of them can make an honest claim to not want government interference in economic matters, since they tend to support things like agricultural subsidies (which makes the cost of basic foodstuffs higher) and import restrictions (both being, of course, policies Bush has worked hard to continue).
    Utter hatred of the ACLU has been a staple of conservtive politics since the ACLU defended communists against the Smith Act.

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