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June 16, 1978 - Image 26

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1978-06-16

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.



in 1i, 1SX

IN DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

ACLU Defends Nazi Rights
at NY Free Speech Conference

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NEW YORK (JTA)—In a
speech before a packed au-
dience of representatives of
Jewish organizations,
Aryeh Neier, executive di-
rector of the American Civil
Liberties Union said Tues-
day, "The oppressed know
that they are the first people
who will suffer if freedom is
denied and therefore they
must protect the freedom of
others."
Clearly referring to the
opposition of many Jewish
groups to the controversial
Nazi march in Skokie, Ill.
scheduled for June- 25, he
went on to say that "those of
us who are most vulnerable
must defend the freedom
and rights even of our
enemies."
Neier was one of five par-
ticipants in a heated panel
discussion entitled "Free
Speech for Racists and To-
talitarians," conducted as
part of the ACLU-sponsored
National Convocation on
Free Speech. The purpose of
the debate was to "explore
whether any limits may be
placed on expressions of
hate, advocacy of genocide
or group libel," in connec-
tion with the Skokie march.

the defense of right-wing
political groups such as
the Nazis and the Ku Klux
Klan, which reject the
very constitutional prin-
ciples that are cited in
their behalf. Asserting
that he too supported the
right of free speech for all
citizens, he nevertheless
argued, "Let us not de-
lude ourselves into think-
ing that deNnding the
Nazis today will protect
us in the long run."

Also denouncing the
ACLU position was Arches,
who charged that "this or-
ganization no longer under-
stands the premises on
which all of our rights are
founded." He stressed that
human beings, if they are to
distinguish themselves
from animals, must make
moral judgments rather
than regarding, as he ac-
cused the ACLU leadership
of doing, all political opin-
ions as being of equal
weight.

Abram, who is also hon-
orary president of the
American Jewish Commit-
tee, agreed with the ACLU's
opponents that the Nazi
Representing the ideology does not subscribe
ACLU position which de- to the social contract theory.
fends the First Amend- "But," he said, "I would _not
ment right of Nazi party use their methods to sup-
members to free speech, press them."
were Neier and David
Asked if the ACLU would
Goldberger, legal direc-
tor of the Roger Baldwin defend the rights of Nazi
Foundation of the ACLU marchers who carried

and of the organization's
Illinois division. Morris
Abram, who served on
the American prosecu-
tion staff at the Nurem-
berg trials of Nazi war
criminals, also supported
the ACLU viewpoint.

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Arguing the other side of
the question were William
Kunstler, volunteer staff
attorney for the Center of
Constitutional Rights and
Hadley Arches, prof. of
political science at Amherst
College. Roger Wilkins,
urban affairs columnist for
the New York Times, served
as moderator.
Reiterating the ACLU's
** stand which has led to the
resignation of a number of
ACLU members, Neier
sharply distinguished bet
ween the right of individu-
als in a democratic society
to express unpopular opin-
ions and the limitations
that must be imposed upon
their - freedom to take de-
structive political action.
He noted that he personally
would "condemn the Nazis
with all vigor and with all
vehemence." But he af-
firmed his organization's
commitment to preserving
free debate in a democratic
society in the hope that the
people, rather than an un-
duly oppressive govern.
ment, will choose wisely
among competing ideas.

Kunstler challenged
the approriateness of lib-
eral organizations, such
as the ACLU, of assuming -

All Major Credit
Cards Honored

A person is about as big as
the things that make him

angry

Abe Cherow, Says:

placards reading "Kill A
Jew Today," Goldberger,
who has been at the center
of the Skokie controversy as
the attorney for the small
Chicago Nazi group re-
sponded, "The answer
would have to be yes. The
ACLU has defended the
rights of similar de-
monstrators in the past." He
revealed that the ACLU has
offered assistance to the
Jewish community of
Skokie in planning its
counter-demonstration and
expressed the hope that the
expected "peaceable and
stately" tone of the Jewish
protest would effectively
overshadow the "deeply of-
fensive" Nazi rhetoric.

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