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Sunday, July 03, 2005

Who am I?

This is my inaugural post.

First, the Stockdale question: Who am I? My name is Jonah B. Gelbach. I'm an Assistant Professor (Associate Professor as of August 23) in the Economics Department at the University of Maryland at College Park.

Second, why am I writing a blog? Well, I guess it's because I find it frustrating what's going on in the US these days, and frustratingly yelling "Ack!" all the time doesn't seem to be catharsis enough. I intend to write about current events---probably politics more than economics, though as I've mentioned, econ is my field of training.

Third, why call my blog "CardCarryingMember"? Well, among all the talk about Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's resignation, I've seen a couple quotes from Republicans suggesting that President Bush's nominee should be treated very nicely, regardless of his or her record or views, on the grounds that the Republicans were nice to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whose apparent offense was that she---shock!---worked for the ACLU. Consider this quote from Byron York:
Ginsburg, in particular, received something of a bye from Republicans despite her former position as general counsel of the American Civil Liberties Union; had they chosen to, Republicans could have hung every extreme ACLU position around Ginsburg's neck.
It's hard to read this stuff and not think of all the despicable attacks on the ACLU, and, by extension, the principles for which it stands.

Of course, there's the first President Bush's campaign assault against Michael Dukakis (and basic decency)---deriding Dukakis as being a "card-carrying member of the ACLU". I've always wondered what would have happened if Dukakis had come back and told Bush exactly where to shove this sort of attack.

Then there's the blame-9/11-on-the-ACLU attack by Jerry Falwell---enthusiastically supported by Pat Robertson (who later changed his tune):
JERRY FALWELL: And, I know that I'll hear from them for this. But, throwing God out successfully with the help of the federal court system, throwing God out of the public square, out of the schools. The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say 'you helped this happen'.

PAT ROBERTSON: Well, I totally concur, and the problem is we have adopted that agenda at the highest levels of our government. And so we're responsible as a free society for what the top people do. And, the top people, of course, is the court system.

And so on.

Of course people have a right to disagree with ACLU positions, and they certainly have a right to criticize those who support the ACLU.

But the right answer to those people is to point out that the ACLU stands on its principles, however unpopular those principles might be in particular cases (lest you doubt this fact, consider that the ACLU has provided legal support to right-wingers like Rush Limbaugh and Oliver North---the ACLU does what its representatives think is right, regardless of the people involved).

And if that doesn't work, one ought to ask the ACLU's detractors which part of standing on principle, and which principles --- not results, but principles --- they disagree with.

Sadly, Dukakis flubbed his chance to nip this neo-McCarthyism in its tracks. It's left to us now to deal with the consequences.

I don't agree with everything the ACLU does, but I'm a member of the ACLU --- a card-carrying member --- and I'm damned proud of it.

Hence my blog's name.


Anonymous lerxst said...

Came here via Max.

Good to see you blogging Jonah. I hope to visit often.

7/12/2005 12:16 AM  

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