The ACLU’s Not-So-Holy Trinity

In the interest of faith and charity, I’d like to add my own ecumenical offering—a history lesson. It concerns some fascinating material I recently discovered on the ACLU’s early founders, especially three core figures: Roger Baldwin, Harry Ward, and Corliss Lamont. I can only provide a snapshot here, but you’ll get the picture.

First, Roger Baldwin: Baldwin was the founder of the ACLU, so far to the left that he was hounded by the Justice Department of the progressive’s progressive, Woodrow Wilson. Perhaps it was a faith thing. Wilson was a progressive, but he was also a devout Christian, and Roger Baldwin was anything but that.

Baldwin was an atheist. He was also a pro-Soviet communist, though smart enough not to join Communist Party USA (CPUSA). Other early officials of the ACLU, which was founded almost exactly the same time as the American Communist Party, included major party members like William Z. Foster and Elizabeth Gurley Flynn. Communists used the ACLU to deflect questions from the U.S. government over whether they were loyal to the USSR, were serving Joe Stalin in some capacity, and were committed to the overthrow of the American system.

That “overthrow-the-government” thing is something our universities insist is a bunch of anti-communist, McCarthyite tripe. In fact, it took me mere minutes of digging into the Comintern Archives on CPUSA to find fliers and formal proclamations from the American Communist Party publicly advocating precisely that objective. (Click here to view some of the documents.) I also found the ACLU rife throughout those archives.

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