Getting A CLU | Letters | Chicago Reader

News & Politics » Letters

Getting A CLU

by

comment

Dear Reader:

We were delighted that the film Of Civil Wrongs & Rights: The Fred Korematsu Story was a Critic's Choice last week [April 7], because this is not only an excellent film, but a very important one that should be shown in all colleges and high schools, for it exposes a critical and terrible time in the history of our democracy.

However, in Fred Camper's review of the film, he pointed out that "neither the Japanese-American Citizens League nor the ACLU's national office supported his wartime lawsuit." While it is true the ACLU's national board of directors split three ways between those who did support the cause, those who didn't want to offend President Franklin Roosevelt, and those who did not want to do anything that might harm the war effort, the national office under the defiant leadership of the executive director Roger Baldwin raised money for the case and ultimately got the national organization to support it wholeheartedly.

More importantly, Camper did not, as the film so clearly points out, recognize the role of the ACLU of Northern California that provided the lawyers and aggressively pursued the case to the United States Supreme Court.

Cordially,

Jay A. Miller

Executive Director

American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois

Fred Camper replies:

The film makes only very brief mention that the ACLU's national office ultimately supported the suit and no mention of any money raised for it by that office or Roger Baldwin; I thank Jay Miller for this additional information. Miller is quite right that the film makes clear that the ACLU of Northern California courageously pursued this case; one of the most moving scenes is the testimony of that office's former executive director, the late Ernest Besig, still passionate at 90.

Add a comment