most obvious one. The relevant portionnof the First Amendment reads this way:n”Congress shall make no law .. . abridgingn… the right of the people peaceablynto assemble, and to petition the governmentnfor a redress of grievances.” Justnwhat grievance the Nazis had whichnnecessitated their assembling in Skokie,nIllinois (on the streets) in order to getnthe government to redress it has notnyet been specified. In order to invokenthis right the ACLU has had to reconstruenit. Their version of it would readnsomething like this: “The right ofngroups to use the force of governmentnto enable them to assemble wherevernthey see fit, to call the attention ofnwhomever they choose to whatever itnis that is bothering them,” or somethingnof the sort. In short, the First Amendmentncan be invoked in this case onlynby twisting the Constitution into antangled mass. The ACLU has very nearlynsucceeded in doing this, of course.nThe Nazis had no imperative neednto assemble on the streets in Skokie,nIllinois. They did not have to travelnthere in order to be able to say what theynhad on their minds. Clearly, what theynhad in mind was a deliberate provocation.nSwastikas could only stir anguishnand anger in many of those who mightnhave witnessed the march. (It neverntook place, despite the fact that thencourts cleared the way for it.) Thenmodus operandi of Nazism is the use ofnthe group to intimidate, and that is then”right” which the courts vindicated.nIn this, they are not alone. It is thenmodus operandi of all collectivists,nwhether they are Ku Kluxers, Communists,nsocialists of whatever flavor,nlabor unionists, or whatnot.nUnfortunately, Mr. Neier’s vision isndistorted by collectivism. It appears tonbe the case for the ACLU leadership asnwell. This is not the only possible commonnground they share with the Nazis.nThe Nazis do not believe in free speech;nthey believe in breaking the heads ofnthose who speak against them. ThenNazis do not believe in the right ofnpeaceable assembly; they believe in as­nsembling in order to have brawls. Theynare collectivists, however. They believenin collective action, collective guilt,nand collective well-being. Mr. I^eierngives the game away when he argues, inneffect, that Jews must defend the rightnof the Nazis to collective action in ordernto be able to act collectively themselves.n1 believe that Mr. Neier is mistaken.nWhat he claims to seek is security fromnpersecution in the future. I doubt thatnthe way to achieve that is to insure thatnall groups can engage in intimidation.nIt seems to me the best protection againstnpersecution is one in which groups arennot permitted to intimidate. It is thisnkind of protection which individualnJews need vis a vis Nazis or any otherngroups. Moreover, it is a primary functionnof government to protect the inhabitantsnfrom intimidation by groups.nWhen it fails to do so, it yields up somenportion of its monopoly of power tongroups. If all groups are equally entitlednto intimidate, they will then contendnfor the power that has been yieldednto them. That is what happened in thenWeimar Republic in the 1920s, andnset the stage for the Nazis to come tonpower.nMr. Neier has made only a partialnexplanation of the reason for being ofnthe ACLU. He either skirts or ignoresnthe broad question of why there shouldnbe a special organization whose mainnfunction appears to be to defend thenmembers of other organizations. (I amnnot, of course, questioning the legalnright for such a voluntary organizationnto exist.) If Nazis, Communists, KunKluxers need legal defense, why don’tnthey pay for it.-^ What could bring intonbeing an organization whose purposenit is to defend the rights of other groupsnand organizations to agitate, propagate,nprovoke, and intimidate the populacenat large.^nIn crucial respects, the ACLU is thenlegal wing of liberalism which dominatesnAmerican intellectual life. Liberalism isnnnbent on transforming America, albeitngradually, and step by step. Ultimately,nliberals use government powernin their efforts at transformation. Butnthe impetus for transformation comesnfrom radical and reformist groups andnorganizations. The ideas that they advancenare often unpopular and thosenwho share them are in the minority.nThe tactics they use to get attentionnand propagate their ideas arouse resistance.nOften they can only continue tonact by getting special protection fromnthe police and even aid from governmentnin providing places to assemblenand means for carrying on theirnactivities.nThe basic task of the ACLU has beennperformed in getting the Constitutionnreconstrued and local laws negated,nlaws by which groups are restrained andnlimited. The Skokie case was an excellentnexample of this kind of activity.nThe municipal government of Skokiendid wish to deny the Nazis the use ofnthe streets for such a march. They didnattempt to require the posting of bondnas insurance against damage that mightnbe done. The ACLU attorneys contendednagainst every effort by the municipalitynto protect itself from intrusion by annunwelcome group. (The bond requirement,nsince it was difficult or impossiblenfor the Nazis to get it, was a limitationnon free speech, the attorneys alleged.nIf one consistently follows that line ofnargument, the requirement for liabilityninsurance for automobiles is a limitationnon free speech.) In the final analysis,nthe courts must be made to force governmentsnto provide a meeting placenand police protection for radical groups.nVJroups and organizations are alwaysnpotentially dangerous. They arenespecially a danger to lone individualsnand to unpopular minorities. They neednto be restrained, limited, and held responsiblenfor their acts. When governmentnbecomes their tacit ally, they endangerneveryone. The defense of freenand responsible speech is no doubt anworthy cause. The defense of a free andn^^•^•^•^iiiil?nSeptember/October 1979n