Free speech for fascists is not bone-headed largesse but protection for social justice activists

Loath as I am to agree with Glenn Greenwald–since he went from writing about civil liberties which he understands to writing about capitalist politics where he’s in over his head & talks rubbish–his article titled “The Misguided Attacks on ACLU for Defending Neo-Nazis’ Free Speech Rights in Charlottesville” is fundamentally sound politically.

We support free speech even for fascists–free speech does not include violence or criminal misconduct–because if we attempt to legally restrict free speech for anyone, we set legal precedents that will be used primarily against the forces of social justice. It’s an old debate; it’s an elementary one & it’s tiresome to replay it a thousand times because some just don’t get it. We don’t support fascist free speech out of largesse or some false sense of fair play but to protect our own rights, for heaven’s sakes. The way to oppose fascists is not by silencing them through legal restrictions but by out-mobilizing them & driving them back under their rocks.

Where I strongly disagree with Greenwald on this issue is his assessment of the ACLU which differs considerably from state to state, depending on the primary funding sources. In many areas, the ACLU is completely mortgaged to corporations. My experience with them in the state of Minnesota is illustrative of an ACLU affiliate hogtied by corporate money. My first experience was when I approached them for legal assistance for my younger brother Paul who was employed by 3-M Corporation as a cafeteria worker. Paul had a learning disability & was being egregiously & viciously exploited by 3-M. The ACLU case worker was up in arms at what Paul & I told them & began girding his loins for battle until we identified the company involved as 3-M, a major donor to Minnesota ACLU. We were shut down & dismissed abruptly.

My second experience was when I approached them by phone, letter, & email for legal assistance in getting the FBI accusation of using a Weapon of Mass Destruction off my criminal record (placed there by FBI agent Coleen Rowley who is now a leader of the corrupted US antiwar movement). They never responded to any of my appeals, even with a formal denial.