Why “Where is the ACLU??” Often Ends in Intellectual Tragedy (Islamic School Edition)

The ACLU is not a perfect organization (though given that they are not monolithic, it’s hard to generalize). But by and large, they have the right idea about religious liberty, especially when it comes to preventing governments from superseding the rights of citizens to observe or not observe whatever religion they see fit and protecting private religious expression from government interference.

Unfortunately, there are a whole host of (mostly) conservative bloggers out there who seem incapable of distinguishing government action from private freedoms, and who rather ridiculously assert that the ACLU is out to destroy religious practice, rather than protect it from the government. Of course, the big problem for such people is simply all the rather awkward evidence to the contrary. What’s a crank conspiracy-theorist to do?

Well, luckily, they’ve hit upon a stopgap defense mechanism: anytime they come across a potential infringement of free speech or religious expression, an regardless of how much time has elapsed, whether anyone has even notified the ACLU, what the actual facts of the case are, or even if some other organization is already providing counsel, they cry “Where is the ACLU?!!” The implication is, of course, that the ACLU is deeply hypocritical: that their conspiracy isn’t savvy enough to at least pretend to care about this or that free speech/religious expression issue.

The problem is that this rallying cry so often ends in embarrassing tragedy. The latest case in point involves an Islamic school, sponsored by the government, which has apparently been caught coercing its students to pray, amongst other things. Part-time culture-warrior William Wallace raised the predictable cry: Where is the ACLU Now?

Where is the ACLU? The ACLU was all over the Dover PA school district for merely suggesting that life might have been designed by some unidentified creator as a violation of the so-called separation of of church and state. But here in Minnesota, it is “halal” (kosher) to fund Islamic schools.

This righteous outrage lasted for precisely one day, until a commenter happened to stop by and link to a letter from the ACLU to the school, asking them to stop exactly the practices that Mr. Wallace was complaining about. Oops.

And if that weren’t ridiculous enough, the letter is nearly a month old. So it’s Mr. Wallace that’s late to game in condemning the school: the ACLU might well have run their own blog entry entitled “Where is William Wallace on this issue, hunh?!?”

Mr. Wallace’s response?

The letter you cite is very interesting, in that is very friendly. It is as though the ACLU wants to teach the school how to continue to be a public Islamic school.

I’ll analyze the letter in more detail later; might make for an interesting blog.

This is what’s known as “changing the goalposts.” First the ACLU was evil because it was supposedly ignoring the controversy as part of some crafty plot to promote Islam and destroy Christianity. But when that implication became both ridiculous and even anachronistic, suddenly the ACLU is instead bad because their letter warning the school to stop its unconstitutional religious endorsement doesn’t call Muslims enough racial slurs in the process, or something.

I almost can’t wait for Mr. Wallace’s ‘analysis,’ but I suspect it may be delayed until he finds some means to remove the egg from his face.

More: If you’re interested in a vastly more sane analysis of the Islamic Charter School issue, Hemant over at Friendly Atheist has the goods.

11 Responses to Why “Where is the ACLU??” Often Ends in Intellectual Tragedy (Islamic School Edition)

  1. wanderer7 says:

    aclu is like the jewish national leaguge. a collection of thugs and thuggish tactics. They play a propaganda game; to win power and gain riches


  2. Bad says:

    So says you, I guess. I’m not sure what the “Jewish National League” is though. Halal Baseball?

    And by this post, am I meant to understand that your don’t actually mean the “Love and Light to All” bit of your profile, at least not in the case of the ACLU and whatever the JNL is?

  3. PalMD says:

    Hey, I’ve never heard of the “league”, and I get every jewsletter…

  4. The letter is friendly, don’t you agree? Especially compared to a letter in which the ACLU defended the “right” of students to disrupt learning with gratuitious use of the word “vagina”. That letter was much more assertive. See my blog for details.

  5. Bad says:

    The letter is friendly, don’t you agree?

    Honestly, what does that have to do with anything? How does it make your original diatribe any less foolish and premature.

    Especially compared to a letter in which the ACLU defended the “right” of students to disrupt learning with gratuitious use of the word “vagina”.See my blog for details.

    You don’t offer any coherent details, just paranoid insinuations. But Mod, who is the one that notified you of that case in the first place, has already given several good reasons why the situations are not quite the same and thus the force of the letter (which, honestly, is not that different in any case).

    And you offer no evidence that the students in question were seeking to “disrupt the learning process”: they were performing a section from a play/book entitled “The Vagina Monologues.” A rather different situation than the one you might lead readers to believe with your summary.

  6. Nullifidian says:

    Presumably wanderer was babbling on about the Jewish Defense League, which is a terrorist organization, implicated in the bombings of several Soviet interests, starting with a bomb planted outside the Manhattan offices of Aeroflot. Then they expanded their reign of terror to basically any prominent Arab. They killed Alex Odeh, regional director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, and two of their members were caught in an attempted bombing of Darrell Issa. (Which is bizarre, because I know someone who used to be a staffer at Issa’s office, and am well aware there are few more right-wing than he is. He’s an Arab, but of Lebanese Christian descent and has the disdain and loathing for Muslims inculcated by the French when they were the colonial rulers of Lebanon. He’d just as soon see the 101st Airborne saddling up to fly into Tehran and Damascus as much as any Kahane Chai member.)

  7. Soapy Asad: gaming public funding of education…

    The new logo for Minnesota’s StarTribune
    combing elements from the Soviet and
    Chinese flags, as well as color from
    Al Gore’s environmental movement

    If it weren’t for Katherine Kersten, the token conservative columnist at the othe…

  8. Bad says:

    In case you have no clue what the above comment is, it’s a trackback to Mr. Wallace’s continued hilarious efforts to find some angle on the ACLU/Islamic school story that he can quickly move onto, and thus avoid having to admit he was wrong.

    Maybe if he screams “communist” loud enough and often enough for no particular reason, we’ll get confused!

  9. Jon says:

    Susan Jacoby’s Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism has some excellent stuff on the ACLU, if anyone’s interested.

  10. Reshid says:

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