THE RIGHTS OF FREE MEN: An Essential Guide to Civil Liberties by Alan Barth

THE RIGHTS OF FREE MEN: An Essential Guide to Civil Liberties

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

Joe McCarthy is long-dead, Southern lunch counters serve blacks, and accused indigents are now supplied with counsel--but Barth's writings on these and other national issues, from the 1940s to the early 1970s, have lost none of their pertinence. Author of The Loyalty of Free Men, and a strongly liberal editorial writer for the Washington Post, Barth (1906-1979) brought to his writing a depth of legal and moral analysis, and a historical perspective, that make this collection a valuable tool for analyzing civil liberties issues at large. Barth opposed the loyalty oaths and tests of the 1950s because he feared that disagreement with the government's policies might be confused with disloyalty to the country. He opposed the use of secret informants who accused people of being Communists, arguing that the real threat to American institutions was from government attempts to restrict the dissemination of ideas. He believed that wiretapping was unlawful whether performed by the FBI or by presidential order unless Fourth Amendment prohibitions against unreasonable searches were followed. Gun control, he maintained, was needed simply to save lives: after Robert Kennedy's death, Barth wrote an editorial supporting gun control almost every day for six months. These and others of the hundred or so editorials here--covering the Supreme Court decision overturning restrictive real-estate covenants, the separate but equal doctrine, the school desegregation cases, Martin Luther King's arrest in Georgia, James Meredith's attempt to enter the U. of Mississippi--attest to Barth's belief in the value of every life. Including speeches and articles, and ably assembled by another Post editorial writer: a Barth valedictory and a living example to concerned others.

Pub Date: Jan. 17th, 1983
Publisher: Knopf