The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is very sorry for rewriting a famous quote from the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg so that it would be gender neutral.
"It was a mistake among the digital team," said Anthony Romero, executive director of the ACLU. "Changing quotes is not something we ever did."
Until last week, that was: On September 18, the ACLU's Twitter feed republished one of RBG's notable comments about abortion. The revered feminist legal icon had said "the decision whether or not to bear a child is central to a woman's life" and that the government shouldn't take that decision out of a woman's hands.
But according to modern progressive parlance, it is an anachronism to assert that only women can give birth, since transgender men can become pregnant, too. The ACLU thus made some alterations:
With Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death, we lost a champion for abortion and gender equality. And on the anniversary of her death, the fight to protect abortion access is more urgent than ever. pic.twitter.com/vIKadIHouN
— ACLU (@ACLU) September 18, 2021
Regardless of one's position on trans issues and the rapidly evolving demands of progressive activists with respect to conscious language choices, it is wrong to go back in time and pretend that people used different words. Demands for greater sensitivity should not prompt a literal rewriting of history. Progressive thought leaders of the very, very recent past recognized fundamental differences between men and women—it's absurd to pretend otherwise, and to obscure this fact by changing the speech they used.
Moreover, while this isn't the biggest issue ever, it hardly assuages concerns that the ACLU is veering off course. This organization, renowned for its principled commitment to the defense of civil liberties, increasingly appears to have been captured by overzealous young progressives who are transforming it into just another liberal advocacy group. Whereas the old ACLU was always willing to defend the rights of unsympathetic individuals, the new ACLU is somewhat more cautious about taking cases that might offend liberal sensibilities. Similarly, it's hard to imagine the old ACLU—or really any self-respecting non-Soviet institution—scrubbing the quotations of old heroes so that they are less offensive to the militantly woke.
At least the ACLU is admitting that the RBG tweet was a mistake, though the apology Romero offered was a weak one. He also told The New York Times' Michelle Goldberg that "having spent time with Justice Ginsburg, I would like to believe that if she were alive today, she would encourage us to evolve our language to encompass a broader vision of gender, identity and sexuality." In response, Goldberg quipped: "It's also the case that she spoke specifically about women for a reason." If even the "notorious" RBG isn't woke by today's standards, progressives might need a reality check.