Wed Jun 27, 2012, 05:52 AM
xchrom (101,366 posts)
As Labor Struggles, Have the Big Rights and Liberties Groups Like the ACLU Deserted Unions?
Progressive intellectuals have been acting very bipolar towards labor lately, characterized by wild mood swings ranging from the “We’re sorry we abandoned labor, how could we!” sentiment during last year’s Wisconsin uprising against Koch waterboy Scott Walker, to the recent “labor is dead/it’s all labor’s fault” snarling after the recall vote against Gov. Walker failed.
It must be confusing and a bit daunting for those deep inside the labor movement, all these progressive mood swings. At the beginning of this month, New York Times’ columnist Joe Nocera wrote a column about having a “V-8 Moment” over the abandonment of labor unions, an abandonment that was so thorough and so complete that establishment liberals like Nocera forgot they’d ever abandoned labor in the first place!
The intellectual-left’s wild mood swings between unrequited love towards labor unions, and unrequited contempt, got me wondering how this abandonment of labor has manifested itself. While progressives and labor are arguing, sometimes viciously, over labor’s current sorry state, one thing progressives haven’t done is serious self-examination on how and where this abandonment of labor manifests itself, how it affects the very genetic makeup of liberal assumptions and major premises.
So I did a simple check: I went to the websites of three of the biggest names in liberal activist politics: Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the ACLU. Checking their websites, I was surprised to find that not one of those three organizations lists labor as a major topic or issue that it covers.
6 replies, 1081 views
Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
As Labor Struggles, Have the Big Rights and Liberties Groups Like the ACLU Deserted Unions? (Original post)
Response to HiPointDem (Reply #1)
Wed Jun 27, 2012, 07:36 AM
JHB (19,547 posts)
4. Turning the rights orgs against labor was part of the conservative movement activism
From farther down in that article:
Aryeh Neier, founder of Human Rights Watch and its executive director for 12 years, doesn’t hide his contempt for the idea of economic equality as one of the key human rights. Neier is so opposed to the idea of economic equality that he even equates the very idea of economic equality and justice with oppression—economic rights to him are a violation of human rights, rather than essential human rights, thereby completely inverting traditional left thinking. Here’s what Neier wrote in his memoir, Taking Liberties: “The concept of economic and social rights is profoundly undemocratic… Authoritarian power is probably a prerequisite for giving meaning to economic and social rights.”
A few years later, (conservative activist William F.) Buckley boasted of his first early success in turning the ACLU against labor, citing not just his ally Aryeh Neier, but also another well-known name in the so-called “left,” Nat Hentoff. Buckley wrote in 1973:
“Meanwhile, Mr. Nat Hentoff, a left-winger of undiluted loyalty to the first amendment, has urged his very important constituency to side with me and with Evans (M. Stanton Evans, an early libertarian and longtime defender of Joseph McCarthy) and has attempted to persuade the American Civil Liberties Union to file a brief amicus curiae. He has almost single-handedly persuaded the ACLU to change its historic opinion about union membership. The union shop, the ACLU now says belatedly, ought not to be required for people who are journalists.”
The lawsuit Buckley refers to, Buckley and Evans vs. AFTRA, was backed by the National Right To Work Legal Defense Foundation, the legal arm of the notorious union-busting outfit of the same name. And “leftist” Nat Hentoff. People used to think Hentoff was a leftist—and he seemed like one to de-politicized Baby Boomer imbeciles, who figured the Village Voice label on Hentoff’s columns meant whatever he said was leftist. Today, Hentoff is finally in his ideological home at the Cato Institute, the Koch brothers’ anti-labor, pro-oligarchy libertarian think-tank. Despite the Cato Institute’s tireless efforts to undermine democracy and labor, many progressives today consider Cato as “left” or “progressive”—a perversion only possible in today’s mutant left, stripped of its historical relationship to labor and economic justice.
Aryeh Neier was also National Director of the ACLU from 1970-1978.
Response to JHB (Reply #4)
Wed Jun 27, 2012, 07:43 AM
HiPointDem (20,729 posts)
5. jesus christ. i didn't see that, & i didn't know it was that bad. i was thinking
about the state department people currently running the aclu.
neier sounds utterly repellant. and he was aclu director too?
it's all just one little club....
he's president of soros' open society institute too.
more fake humanitarians..
hentoff though -- he's been a winger in sheep's clothing as long as i've been aware of him. he must be 103 by now anyway.