Baldwin did work with some communists in his early years and shared their drive to end social and economic inequality. However, he denounced the use of violence, repression, and dictatorships as a means of achieving that goal. In an interview with Peggy Lamson in 1976 he faulted the communists for not being “friends of democracy” and presided over the ACLU Board that fired a member for her communist views.
The reason for firing Elizabeth Flynn was not to improve the ACLU's image, as some claim. but rather because she, as well as any ACLU board member who supported dictatorships in other countries, could not be trusted to support civil liberties in America. Civil liberties obviously do not thrive under dictatorships. For this reason the ACLU represents, on the social dimension, the precise opposite of communism.
In 1976 Baldwin said he would still choose communism over fascism but added the following statement: “I hope to God I would never be faced with that.” He also said that if ACLU staff still considered communists friends of democracy after the Nazi-Soviet pact of 1939 that he was sorry for their illusion and sorry to lose them.
Even if Baldwin hadn’t changed his mind about communism it would still not follow that the current ACLU is communist. Some of our nation’s founders believed in slavery and had slaves. That fact does not make the United States a supporter of slavery today.
There are other ways of expressing discontent with the ACLU than resorting to red baiting. Such methods are politically effective but at the same time, in my view, reduce the value of honesty and weaken our communities.
As for Baldwin you can certainly fault him for denouncing communism belatedly, but the organization he founded espouses the liberties (like them or not) that would have been and were impossible under soviet communism.
So Roger Baldwin was a Stalinist. The ACLU is founded by a Stalinist and supports polygamy and child pornography and it is considered to be an organization that somehow promotes American values. Unbelievable!
Old epithets like "pinko" and "communistic" sound somewhat retro. Gone are the days when rightwingers would routinely refer to the ACLU as communist sympathizers or a communist front. When the elder George Bush described Michael Dukakis as "a card-carrying member of the ACLU,"he was echoing the phrase that Senator Joe McCarthy used for members of the Communist Party.
Recently Bill O'Reilly described the group as a "fascist organization," which "uses their legal clout to terrorize various school districts and individuals." And that description doesn't make a lot of sense either. Real fascists don't use litigation to become powerful. If they did, they wouldn't have been fascists.
For an in depth biography of Baldwin click here.