Repost: The Worst Civil Liberties Abuser in American History   Leave a comment


Content Note: Slavery, Government Harrasment, Civil Liberties Violations

Glenn Greenwald has an excellent article here about the topic. Hooray for history!

After all, owning human beings as chattel is the supreme civil liberties violation, by far the gravest civil liberties abuse in US history. That goes without saying. It is sui generis.

That’s why it was so bizarre to see that the very same Matt Yglesias, just moments later, pronounced Woodrow Wilson – a president who never owned any slaves and never presided over slavery – to be the “worst-ever president on civil liberties”, even suggesting that Wilson has no “serious competition” for that ignominious title. It was when I pointed out the irony of Yglesias’ selection of a non-slave-owning president in light of his tweet that the interesting question arose of who should be considered the worst civil liberties president in US history.

If one were simply to consider specific acts which constituted grave assaults on civil liberties – narrowly defined as the core political rights explicitly protected by the Bill of Rights: free speech, freedom from deprivation of life and liberty without due process, etc. – one could make a strong argument for several presidents. John Adamssigned The Alien and Sedition Acts, which essentially criminalized certain forms of government criticism in preparation for a war with France, a radical assault on the First Amendment.

Abraham Lincoln illegally suspended the core liberty of habeas corpus without Congressional approval. Wilson’sattacks on basic free speech in the name of national security were indeed legion and probably unparalleled. Franklin Roosevelt oversaw the due-process-free internment of more than 100,000 law-abiding Japanese-Americans into concentration camps.

 

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Posted 11/05/2012 by reluctantliberal in Generic Post

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