The Progressive, Mother Jones et aliinon the subject of El Salvador. The Nation,nthatorgan of rabid, vicious humanitarians,nlabeled its report on El Salvadorn”Invented Red Menace” in a front-pagenheadline. What else could be added tonthe next chapter in the story of Sovietnimperialism and American liberals’nburning desire to nourish it.’nA Matter of PerspectivenThere’s a considerable amount ofnbitterness, if not outrage, in the liberalnpress—from the daily tabloids to ThenNew Yorker—at Mr. Edward Meese’sn(President Reagan’s right-hand man)nremarks about the American Civil LibertiesnUnion. He called it a “criminal’snlobby.”nAt first glance, this characterizationnlooked a bit harsh to us. After all, thenACLU was conceived as a protection ofnthe citizens’ privileges that were institutionalizednin the Constitution, andnat the outset of its existence it participatednin many glorious efforts whichnsucceeded in securing justice for thosenwho might otherwise have been deniednit. However, with the passing years,nthe ACLU has begun to show signs ofndegeneration in the way it applies itsnphilosophy of liberty, civil rights andnequity to what can be called the encroachingnsocial climate. In an era whennteen-age girls who, when they feel bored,nkill schoolchildren, when juvenile streetngangs rob elderly people of a couple ofndollars and then carve them to piecesnwith pocket knives, not to eliminate witnessesnbut for the sheer pleasure ofnbutchering, the ACLU’s rhetoric oftenngives an impression of heinous scholasticism.nMoreover, many people (and wenare among them) feel that the ACLU’snvery triumphs—devoid of any respectnfor the rational practicalities of socialnexistence—have helped to breed thenaforementioned girls and juveniles, renderingnthem ignobly contemptuous ofncourts, sentences, law enforcement, anynmoral exigency of their society. As ofnnow, in the eyes of many—and in ourneyes as well—the ACLU looks like anfanatical association of legal gurus whonread the law not in order to defend humannlife and common sense but to satisfynthe empty, ossified, lugubriousnschemes of some repulsive orthodoxy.nIt pains us to feel this way, and we believenthat many noble principles whichnprompted the ACLU’s formation innAmerica are thus abused by our feelings.nBut it’s not our fault—nor is itnMr. Meese’s.nNelson Algren, RIPnNelson Algren died. He was a seriousnand gifted writer whose work we dislikednand admired in the same breath.nWe respected his literary instincts andnhis fascinating excursions into a realitynwhich he explored with a God-givennpassion for cognizance and depiction.nBut we deplored his adherence to ideologiesnwhich we believe are erroneousnand destructive. Algren was faithful tonthe writer’s sacrosanct mission—thensearch for truth and wisdom. However,nnot all truths or all wisdom that a writernmay find on his pilgrimage are of equalnquality. Algren wrote in The Man withnthe Golden Arm that in America “ownershipnis a virtue,” and he saw that asnabhorrent. This, in our eyes, placednhim in the ranks of shallow, cranky,n19th-century doctrinaires. We, the peoplenof the last decades of the 20th century,nknow that there’s nothing wrongnwith possession. It is an instinct highlyndeveloped and polished by humans, ansource of industriousness and complexnfeelings, one of the basics of civilization.nMorally, like every human trait,nit has the potential for both good andnbad, right and wrong. It is what we donwith it that matters. Neither modernnmedicine nor Shakespeare’s sonnetsnwould be possible without it. And Americanhas done with it both mischief andnmarvel—and the latter far outweighsnthe former. It’s a pity that Algren, withnhis talent for the mot juste, didn’t getnnnto the heart of the matter.nDimwits Back at WorknSome dimwits at Notre Dame protestednPresident Reagan’s commencementnaddress. Others did the same tonVice President Bush at Howard Universitynand to Secretary Haig in Syracuse.nA Chicago Tribune columnistncried hosanna: “One side benefit of thenReagan administration is the arousalnof what for years seemed to be a deadnart: campus protest.”nLooking at dimwits on the campusesnand in the press, one can’t help wonderingnat the substance of the ideologicalncontention in America. It’s obvious thatnsince the 1960’s the conservatives havenbecome the most fiercely rational defendersnof democracy, while the liberalsnare now the most unreasoning and sophisticndestroyers of it. The conservativesninvoke the ballot, the rights of thenmajority, social contract, discourse andnthe need for consensus on sociopoliticalnmatters. They abide by the authoritynof liberal Presidents and call them theirnPresidents, once they are elected. Thenliberals worship dissent, protest, nonnengotiable demands; they claim superiornwisdom about right and wrong and expressncontempt for any proceeding thatninvolves compromise. They have a despoticnfaith in their own moral perfectionnand their divine right to bulldoze anynliberal preference over any popular preference.nThe fact that Reagan was electednby a majority of the American voters willnnever induce liberals to consider himntheir President, and they reject any dialogue,nopting instead to display a dimwittednscorn which they call “protest.”nWhat did the fools at Notre Dame andntheir harebrained apologist in ChicagonTribune’s pages protest against.” An administrationnwhich is engaged in a giganticneffort to save for America the luxurynof public dissent in a world which isncrumbling under an alliance of totalitariannhenchmen and terrorist murderers.’nnni49nJuly/Attgust 1981n