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Often accompanying a search for villains in the aftermath of politically-motivated violence is making "a list of core civil liberties that we're told ought to be curtailed in the name of preventing similar acts of violence in the future."(Photo: Emily Molli/NurPhoto/Sipa/AP)

The Misguided Attacks on ACLU for Defending Neo-Nazis’ Free Speech Rights in Charlottesville

Glenn Greenwald

 by The Intercept

Each time horrific political violence is perpetrated that is deemed to be terrorism, a search is immediately conducted for culprits to blame other than those who actually perpetrated the violence or endorsed the group responsible for it. It’s usually only a matter of hours before the attack is exploited to declare one’s own political views vindicated, and to depict one’s political adversaries as responsible for, if not complicit in, the violence. Often accompanying this search for villains is a list of core civil liberties that we’re told ought to be curtailed in the name of preventing similar acts of violence in the future.

All of this typically happens before much of anything is known about the killer, his actual inspirations, his mental health, or his associations. In the aftermath of the widespread horror such violence naturally produces, the easiest target for these guilt-by-association tactics are those who have advocated for the legal rights of the group of which the individual attacker is a member and/or those who have defended the legal right to express the opinions in the name of which the attack was carried out.

These tactics are most familiar when a Muslim perpetrates violence within a western city, aimed at westerners. Before anything is known about the attacker other than his religious identity, the violence is instantly declared to be terrorism. Then the search is quickly launched to find anyone who can be said to be responsible for the violence by virtue of having “encouraged” or “enabled” Islamic extremism, often by doing nothing more than having defended the legal rights of the group that is being blamed for the attack.

Read the full article, with possible updates, at The Intercept.


© 2021 The Intercept
Glenn Greenwald

Glenn Greenwald

Glenn Greenwald is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, constitutional lawyer, commentator, author of three New York Times best-selling books on politics and law, and a former staff writer and editor at First Look media. His fifth and latest book is, "No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State," about the U.S. surveillance state and his experiences reporting on the Snowden documents around the world. Glenn’s column was featured at Guardian US and Salon.  His previous books include: "With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful," "Great American Hypocrites: Toppling the Big Myths of Republican Politics," and "A Tragic Legacy: How a Good vs. Evil Mentality Destroyed the Bush Presidency." He is the recipient of the first annual I.F. Stone Award for Independent Journalism, a George Polk Award, and was on The Guardian team that won the Pulitzer Prize for public interest journalism in 2014.

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