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June 20, 2002

Make the ACLU Blink

Norman M. Covert

Somewhere in my library is the reference in an old book that the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) was started as a Marxist organization in the aftermath of World War I. It survived the Red Scare of the 20s and 30s, managed to infiltrate lots of media folk, colleges and universities and today we have them as a double-edged sword in Freedom of Speech litigation.

Modern histories of the ACLU omit its Soviet parentage. Apparently one of their first legal interventions in American society was the cause of conscientious objectors in World War I, a righteous cause to lend credibility. Dr. Norman Thomas, a perpetual presidential candidate, was one of the founders of the ACLU.

The ACLU has never lost its Marxist/Leninist genes, which tell you that you can defeat an enemy without fighting. It's the "wolf in sheep's clothing" gambit.

As the ACLU has done, you first ingratiate yourself and become acceptable. You rise to a position of some respect and begin fomenting dissention, pitting one side against the other. You actively promote disinformation, usually outright lies, sending it through the grapevine and getting it published.

Isn't that what is happening in Frederick? The citizens are arguing loudly about the issue of the innocent Ten Commandments Monument in Memorial Grounds Park? So afraid are the elected officials that we hear only that Aldermen Dave Lenhart and Bill Hall and Commissioner Jan Gardner have come out strongly in defense of the stone.

Mayor Dougherty is looking for a politically safe way out, as apparently is Alderman Joe Baldi. He should be leading the supporters because of his close ties to the park and the veterans organizations who have had custody of the monuments and the former cemetery. Alderman Donna Kuzemchak Ramsberg has muted her initially strong attack on the monument.

As a side note, The Veterans Committee for Memorial Park, Inc. and the privately endowed individual monument committees were given tacit responsibility for the park in 1984 as a condition of permission to build monuments to war veterans. The city cuts grass, trims the trees and pays the small electric bill. Veterans do the rest.

City and county elected officials, including the Historic District Commission, have reviewed all plans for monuments and renovation and provided permission on every project. They also have provided small grants to each committee, usually in the form of in-kind services.

The state chapter of the ACLU didn't have to do anything but say they would "be watching the situation" for City Hall to lose its good sense.

The county commissioners apparently are saying they will go along with whatever the city decides. Credit both governments with trying to do homework, but they fear the cost of litigation.

Shudder the thought that the ACLU would probably lose and send the bill to its own left-wing supporters. Remember, no more money is coming from Russia for them, just from ignorant Americans (including The United Way) and probably radical Moslems in Saudi Arabia and environs. The supporters like to see us arguing among ourselves.

The ACLU scares the bejesus out of governmental organizations, which dare to put on the trappings of Americanism emanating from the Declaration of Independence, The Constitution, and the ensuing Bill of Rights.

Our Founding Fathers meant what they said plainly in these hallowed documents. Their meaning is clear. The courts, however, have fallen all over themselves in the past century trying to interpret what they really mean.

Not even the most erudite of journalists ever used the term "parse" until Attorney Robert Bennett showed his client, former President W. J. Clinton, the word and told him to use the technique in lying to the grand jury.

To parse a sentence means to break it down into its separate parts. Using this approach causes a statement to mean any number of things because the context is obscured. That is the genius of the ACLU in confounding our legal establishment.

The ACLU doesn't win them all. Consider that the Sixth U.S. Court of Appeals handed the ACLU a major setback in May on the issue of separation of church and state. It said the State of Ohio could legally use and display its state motto, "With God All Things Are Possible," on government buildings.

The court said that the mere display of such religion-based writings as the Ohio motto and even The Ten Commandments, does not in and of itself mean the government is "establishing a religion." Neither does it imply a demand for public allegiance to a religion.

The court recalled Ohio adopted its motto in 1959, three years after Congress passed - and President Eisenhower signed - legislation adding "Under God" to the Pledge of Allegiance, completing the phrase, "One Nation Under God."

The court added, "Justice William O. Douglas famously said, speaking for the Supreme Court - '[w]e are a religious people whose institutions presuppose a Supreme Being.'

"And as the Supreme Court pointed out as recently as 1984, '[t]here is an unbroken history of official acknowledgment by all three branches of government of the role of religion in American life from at least 1789.'"

The Founding Fathers regularly invoked the name of God in their proceedings, a tradition that continues today.

The Sixth Circuit recounted numerous religion-based sayings and symbols on display and added, were the State of Ohio's motto found unconstitutional, it would require the federal government to cleanse our national buildings and monuments.

The American motto "In God We Trust" does not establish an official American church, nor does the simple Ten Commandments stone in Memorial Grounds Park.

How we wish the mayor and board of aldermen and county commissioners would display a semblance of the courage of our Founding Fathers. It isn't difficult to take the high moral ground, as shown by Aldermen Lenhart and Hall and Commissioner Gardner.

The key here is to understand that those who would trash our basic American beliefs should not be allowed to win. The ACLU can keep watching all it wants, but we cannot blink in the face of their threat. Unfortunately we fear the backbones just don't exist in City Hall and Winchester Hall.

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