Culture Wars/Current Controversies

Is Traditional Liberalism Vanishing?

By Matt Taibbi

“Mighty Ira,” a documentary about legendary former ACLU chief Ira Glasser, is simultaneously inspiring and unnerving.

There’s a scene at the beginning of Mighty Ira, an elegant and thought-provoking documentary about longtime ACLU director Ira Glasser, where the movie’s eponymous hero walks along the grounds of Ebbets Field Apartments, home of the old Brooklyn Dodgers. Glasser was obsessed with the Dodgers as a kid, becoming a fan at the age of 9, in 1947, when Jackie Robinson joined the team. He describes cheering in the stands next to 35- and 40-year-old black men, an experience white children could not have anywhere else in America at the time.

As Glasser puts it, the stands at Ebbets field were probably the “only fully integrated public accommodation in the country,” and would forever be a symbol to him of what America could be and was supposed to be, at its best. But the team was disappeared, “kidnapped” to Los Angeles by owner Walter O’Malley, described by Glasser as one of history’s three great villains, the other two being Hitler and Genghis Khan (“I’ve always rooted for the San Andreas Fault to take care of the Dodgers in Los Angeles ever since,” Glasser quips). He describes driving past as the baseball cathedral was torn down in 1960 and seizing up with horror, an experience like “losing a parent.”

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