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Inalienable Human Rights are not Privileges:

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Ecclesiastes tells us there is "no new thing under the sun." Marsha West's article entitled American Christian Loathers Union provides us with a pertinent and timely example of this aphorism.

Throughout the religion's history, various practitioners of Christianity have defied the compassionate teachings of Christ to perpetrate hateful, fear-mongering, and sometimes quite lethal campaigns against those who do not share their beliefs. The Inquisitions, the Salem Witch Trials, the persecution of Galileo, the US military's slaughter of 600,000 Filipinos in an effort to (in the words of then US President William McKinley) "uplift and civilize and christianize" them, and Focus on the Family's steady assault on homosexuals are but a few examples.

According to her bio at the close of her article, "Ms. West is the Founder and Editor of the E-Mail Brigade News Report , an online news report for conservative people of faith. Marsha is a freelance writer specializing in Christian worldview." Evidently part of holding a Christian worldview involves launching vicious attacks on organizations about which one has limited knowledge. And perhaps it also includes lashing out at groups which oppose one's viewpoint by intentionally dispersing distorted information about them.

As I did background research for this piece, I was utterly astounded at the number of Websites and writers devoted to stopping, hating, and opposing the ACLU. Despite having left the organization because its defense of corporate personhood conflicted with my strong opposition to predatory capitalism, I feel exceedingly appreciative of the ACLU's Herculean efforts to protect the rights of the individual.

Consider this excerpt from the ACLU's mission statement:

"The American system of government is founded on two counterbalancing principles: that the majority of the people governs, through democratically elected representatives; and that the power even of a democratic majority must be limited, to ensure individual rights.

Majority power is limited by the Constitution's Bill of Rights, which consists of the original ten amendments ratified in 1791, plus the three post-Civil War amendments (the 13th, 14th and 15th) and the 19th Amendment (women's suffrage), adopted in 1920.

The mission of the ACLU is to preserve all of these protections and guarantees...

...We work also to extend rights to segments of our population that have traditionally been denied their rights, including Native Americans and other people of color; lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgendered people; women; mental-health patients; prisoners; people with disabilities; and the poor.

If the rights of society's most vulnerable members are denied, everybody's rights are imperiled."

Since its founding in 1920 (supported by such luminaries as Helen Keller and Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter), the ACLU has fought tenaciously to preserve the Bill of Rights and subsequent amendments to the Constitution guaranteeing individual liberties. In a nation principally governed by a de facto aristocracy from its founding (many of the Founding Fathers were highly resistant to the inclusion of the Bill of Rights in the Constitution), We the People need an organization like the ACLU, despite some of its extremist leanings.

Recently, the ACLU secured what is arguably its most significant victory. In ACLU vs. NSA, Judge Anna Taylor Diggs halted the Bush administration's persistent assault on "the separation of powers doctrine, the Administrative Procedures Act, the First and Fourth amendments to the United States Constitution, the FISA and Title III." And she may have paved the way for the prosecution of the cadre of criminals who have seized power in the United States.

Utilizing the "War on Terror" as a pretext, Bush, Cheney, and company have steadily consolidated the federal government's power into an executive branch headed by a president who attained office illegitimately, twice.

As Judge Diggs wrote in her 43 page opinion:

"It was never the intent of the framers to give the president such unfettered control, particularly where his actions blatantly disregard the parameters clearly enumerated in the Bill of Rights.... There are no hereditary Kings in America and no powers not created by the Constitution. So all 'inherent powers' must derive from that Constitution."

The 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act afforded the Bush administration a legitimate means of attaining authorization for its domestic eavesdropping program (from the FISA court, which operates outside the realm of public scrutiny). Ignoring the onus to yield to the system of checks and balances (which is a bedrock principle of our Constitutional Republic) by seeking the FISA court's approval, Bush chose to act as the tyrant against whom our Founding Fathers successfully rebelled.

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Jason Miller, Senior Editor and Founder of TPC, is a tenacious forty something vegan straight edge activist who lives in Kansas and who has a boundless passion for animal liberation and anti-capitalism. Addicted to reading and learning, he is mostly (more...)
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