While I may not agree with every issue the American Civil Liberties Union defends, what I know about the organization proves one thing: consistency. I can always figure out their positions on various subjects and the reasons behind them. The documentary Mighty Ira, directed by Nico Perrino, Aaron Reese, and Chris Maltby, tells the story of one of the ACLU’s most prominent leader in the 1970s and 80s and his most controversial case in Skokie. That man is Ira Glasser.
Glasser was born in Brooklyn, New York. His love of baseball, notably Jackie Robinson and the Brooklyn Dodgers, is peppered throughout the film. When Robinson broke into major league baseball, he was inspired to enter civil rights activism, which led him to the doorstep of the ACLU.
“…focused on Glasser and the ACLU’s involvement in the 1977 neo-Nazi demonstration in Skokie, Illinois…”
The documentary is primarily about his 23-year career with the ACLU. When he joined, it was a small organization on the verge of bankruptcy. As ACLU Executive Director, he would eventually oversee its eventual presence in every state of the union.
The majority of the film focuses on Glasser and the ACLU’s involvement in the 1977 neo-Nazi demonstration in Skokie, Illinois. Led by Frank Collin, he would take his white supremacist message through the streets and neighborhoods of Holocaust survivors. Skokie was one of the few cities in Chicago that would allow such a rally. Still, as the heat of controversy grew, the town, with its Jewish citizens’ backing, began pulling permits and charging exorbitant city fees to prevent the rally from happening. Glasser’s ACLU stepped in to defend the rights of Collin and his gang to march in protest unfettered.
"…takes us back to when opposing politicos and media talking-heads actually got along…"