Keeping America Great Together: $50,000 to the ACLU

Over the last week, millions of Americans have been inspired to, in their own way, celebrate and defend what they believe makes our country so…American. I declared that I’d give a dollar to the ACLU for every dollar spent at on Inauguration Day. A thousand of you responded. And today, I wrote a check to the ACLU for $50,000. Thanks!

$50,000 check to ACLU

On Inauguration Day, we had eight times the normal traffic on our website, as our travelers purchased 305 bags, 901 accessories, 573 books, and 161 DVDs, spending a total of $42,962. (Many more wrote that they were donating directly to the ACLU in response to my challenge.) As promised, I’m matching your collective shopping spree. And, further inspired by the last three days of presidential news, I’m upping it to an even $50,000. Thinking about how the ACLU will use this money to help good people in important ways brings me — and should bring all of us — real joy.

Those of us with passports and who are wealthy enough to travel a lot — especially white, straight, Christian males like me — don’t often think a lot about civil liberties…at least, not in an immediate or personal way. Civil liberties just aren’t an issue for most of us. If a wealthy person is in trouble with the law, he can hire a good lawyer. It’s the poor who are filling our prisons. If I want to smoke pot, no one’s going to arrest me. It’s poor and black people who get arrested, and then disenfranchised. I have a voice because I fit societal norms and I have money. In these greed-is-good days, it’s the poor who have to struggle most for their civil liberties.

Watching our new president declare, “only America first!” — and then thinking about all my friends in Europe who were also watching — perplexed me. (Dutch comedians are joking that they’d be happy to be “The Netherlands second.”) But the next day, seeing the streets of America filled with people in solidarity, all exercising their right to free expression, inspired me.

Thanks again to all who joined us in making this collective statement. And let’s remember that for those who believe in civil liberties, the ACLU is not a charity…it’s a service. It’s doing our work, and it deserves our support.


36 Replies to “Keeping America Great Together: $50,000 to the ACLU”

  1. Our next trip is with you Steve. Thanks for all you are doing…it is noticed and appreciated.

  2. Rick,

    You may not be arrested, but if you are breaking the law, you should be held to account as well. We should work harder at enforcing the law equally and fairly, and not trying to find ways to minimize or eliminate the laws. The same applies to immigration. It’s broken, because in recent years it hasn’t been enforced, not because the law is unfair to those breaking it.

  3. Rick,

    You are amazing!

    Thank you for being such a caring person.

    Thanks also to my fellow travelers who bought travel goodies from Rick’s store!

    I’m looking forward to Trump’s impeachment proceedings. The sooner, the better.

    Jeff Doppelganger

  4. This is so great!! And yes, this has so much power:

    “Those of us with passports and who are wealthy enough to travel a lot — especially white, straight, Christian males like me — don’t often think a lot about civil liberties…at least, not in an immediate or personal way. Civil liberties just aren’t an issue for most of us. If a wealthy person is in trouble with the law, he can hire a good lawyer. It’s the poor who are filling our prisons. If I want to smoke pot, no one’s going to arrest me. It’s poor and black people who get arrested, and then disenfranchised. I have a voice because I fit societal norms and I have money. ”

    Can’t wait to use your books when I travel to England. Thank you for being a voice!!

  5. Thank you, Rick, for standing up for the very American values of free speech epitomized by this post and others like it.
    We have stood by far too long whilst those with un-American values spew their hatred of America and its freeedoms.
    Let these hateful close-minded people find another guide. Ciao!

  6. As a fellow Christian straight white guy from Edmonds, I applaud you. The world needs more Rick Steves. Keep on travelin!

  7. Our dollars at work per the ACLU’s website … “The American Civil Liberties Union has taken legal action seeking documents on conflicts of interest and violations of the Constitution and federal law posed by President Trump’s and his family’s business interests. The organization also released a Seven-Point Plan laying out how it intends to challenge other Trump policies and protect the Constitution. The efforts are made possible by the organization’s new Constitution Defense Fund, which was established following the election. ” Rick, thanks for helping all of us fund this!

  8. Rick,
    I am a big fan of your TV shows (I own the whole collection) and books. But what biblical interpretation does a “Christian male like [you]” adhere to when you support the ACLU? The ACLU will use your money to stymie the spread of the Gospel and defend abortion. If this advocacy brings you “real joy” may God have mercy on your soul. I pray that you will repent of your financial support to this organization. There are other charities providing services to the “disenfranchised” more worthy of your well-earned resources. Keep on Traveling.
    Respectively, Aric

  9. Thank you for doing this. It gives me hope. I fear there could be a day when people are too afraid to speak up because they are punished for doing so.

  10. I saw Rick Steves once while standing in front of the White House years ago. He looked really upset and sad as he stared through the metal bars. I can see now what he must have been feeling at the time. Rock on Rick you show the world that there is kindness out in the world through your travels.

  11. I’m also mystified at where specifically Rick said or did anything that indicated he “hated” anyone. Someone simply disagreeing with you does indicate that person hates you. Now, if Rick had referred to people as “rapists” or “murderers” based on their ethnicity or affiliations, or supported others with those opinions, then sure, you could make an argument. But that’s a completely fabricated and unrealistic example, so it’s probably not worth discussing.

    My wife and I intend to book a tour this year. We’re not quite ready to do that yet, but my hope would be that we can make up for a couple people who drop out after apparently confusing disagreement with disparagement.

    Specifically to Tom – I appreciate the gist of what you’re saying here, though the insults and assumptions are unnecessary. I’m identifiably Mexican in ethnicity but third generation American. Why is it incumbent on me to start this conversation with the things that were said about me and my family members during the campaign?

    Unlike the poster above, I have no problem with disagreement, but I do have a problem with disparagement and I can make a real argument about hate, and by proxy, the people who voted for it.

    I’m willing to have a conversation, but it needs to start with dropping the insults, and acknowledging my status as a human being, requiring a level of fundamental dignity and respect that have been missing from politics over the last 18 months.

    If you want to talk to me, *you* start by treating me like a person, since you voted otherwise.

    I absolutely appreciate all of the amazing, helpful people who post comments here that help those of us who care broaden our life experiences through travel. I also appreciate Rick’s principled, thoughtful posts (even on European nudity!) whether I happen to agree with them or not.

  12. Whew!!! ??? How many more “JayZ” comments until Godwin’s Law or Theory is fulfilled? Thanks for your comments, Carl.

  13. Carl’s comment is one of the most intelligent and insightful comments I have read in the last 18 months of divisiveness. I want to thank him for his clarity. Insults have certainly gotten in the way of intelligent dialogue.
    Inauguration night we had Mexican food for dinner.

  14. Rick – I am very proud of your donation to ACLU but more important I am proud of the message you convey with every TV program, blog and book: “Travel, learn, enlarge your mind and your heart.” I am grateful that I can afford to see the world. I am grateful that I will be joining my very first Rick Steves tour in June 2017. Your business ethics are inspiring.

  15. Thank you, Rick, for supporting ACLU in spite of the potential financial backlash to yourself. And thank you for supporting cannabis legalization, too!

  16. Thank you Rick for your donation and more importantly for using your celebrity to get your message out to the wide range of people who like to watch you travel and interact with the world. If more people had the opportunity or desire to leave the confines of our Motherland, perhaps they would feel differently about extreme nationalism. Keep on travelin’!

  17. The ACLU is putting the contribution to good use, This Saturday it was in federal court against Donald Trumpery’s executive order against refugees and against immigrants from 7 Muslim-majority countries (none of which he has major investments in), not including Saudi Arabia – where Bin Laden and the majority of the 9/11 terrorists came from.

  18. Bless you Rick
    Thank you for having not only the forethought
    but the mindset and heart in the time where it
    is needed most.

  19. Not to worry Tom!

    The Dept. of Homeland Security is in new hands now and doing its job, namely ignoring activists judges, and upholding immigration law!

    The activist mainstream media is shellshocked that activist judges don’t quite have the same impact they did a week ago.

  20. Rick,

    THANK YOU for stepping up. I admire you as a businessman and as a man with courage. One only needs to spend a few hours in the Shoah Museum in Paris to know what we are up against here.

    I will send a contribution to ACLU and The Blue Card, an organization assisting remaining elderly Holocaust survivors. Top rated on Charity Navigator.

  21. I have spoken to Trump supporters. My sister-in-law and my best friend both voted for him. I still don’t understand how voting for an immature narcissist liar is going to help our country. Be that as it may, hopefully the ACLU can at least keep a leash on him so he doesn’t do too much damage. They are the true defenders of our Constitution.

  22. Hi Rick,
    Thank you so much for being a true patriot. As a white, Christian male, you will hurt the least from this new administration. But unfortunately, one day soon, we will all hurt from undemocratic rulings of an authoritarian leader and the future of our children will be compromised. Thank you for having the courage to stand up for civil liberties for all Americans. Please know that for every Tom or Mike you lose, you will gain the respect and business from people like me and my family.
    P.S.: and thank you, Carl, for your eloquence.

  23. I’ve always been a fan of Rick Steve’s, even watch reruns of his Paris shows every time they come on, and this support of the ACLU makes him just golden in my view.
    Thank you, Rick!

  24. Thank you so much, Rick. Because of you, I also made a donation to the ACLU today. I love traveling with you.

  25. I appreciate the comments by Mike & Tom above. We should be helping Americans first, as our President is stating, then we can assist those in other countries. We have enjoyed Rick’s books, DVD’s and good advice when we travel, but political opinions shouldn’t be part of his travel suggestions. I’m sure there is a huge Rick Steve’s following that are Republicans. Not so good for business.
    You can bet other countries prioritize their country needs first why shouldn’t America?!

  26. To those who think ACLU is a liberal or progressive or even a political organization, please note that is is none of the above. Its purpose is to protect the rule of law of this great country for everyone, not just the impoverished, minorities, or liberals or whatever class of people you think is getting the advantage of ACLU’s protection . You are getting the benefit of it, too. It does not discriminate.

  27. Rick,

    Your show on PBS is wonderful, but I have not taken a trip with you or purchased anything from your site. I wish I had heard about your generous offer on Inauguration Day, but I was busy in transit for a March.

    I am distressed by the hate and anger that I see above. I rarely agree with Senator McCain, but I called last week to thank him for standing up to the new president. Many times I wondered what President Bush was thinking, but I never hated him or his supporters. I am saddened by out inability to disagree and see the other side. I am saddened by fake news. I am saddened by the new president’s actions that have freed people to make hateful comments and scare others when they would have known it is civility, not political correctness, that makes us not yell at others due to what one believes is their race, ethnicity, or religion.

    The day after the election, I asked friends for organizations that I should support. I added the ACLU to my list. I have politely told customer service desks at various stores that I will not shop there as long as the carry Trump products. I have redoubled my efforts to shop at local stores. I will wear my pink pussy hat until spring arrives. I will add your website as a place to shop and look for tours. I thank you both for your donation and for speaking out.

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