Welcome to From the Dissident's Desk, a Human Events' weekly reflection piece wherein various events and goings-on in the news will be examined by embracing the spirit of the Eastern European dissidents who fought so long for freedom from behind the Iron Curtain. Of late, Americans who hold fast to the ideals codified in our Constitution have found themselves under attack not just from government, but also from big tech censorship, teachers, employers, family, and friends.
This space, where news and opinion converge, will attempt to shine light on the efforts of those American dissidents, whether they are well-known or operate anonymously, who are willing to stand up, speak up, and fight back against oppression.
Last week I had the opportunity to speak in person at the prestigious Liberty Forum in Silicon Valley. It was the first in-person event they have held since the onset of the Chinese coronavirus pandemic. It was a privilege to address a packed house of attendees and however many other people might have been viewing on the live stream. The content can be found here.
The title of the talk was The Dissident’s Fight for Freedom in 21st Century America, and it was a synthesis of a couple of essays I published back in January. One was on the topic of political ethics and the other specifically about being an American dissident. The presentation was very well received, drawing two humbling standing ovations at the conclusion.
I ended by sharing a story from a patriotic dissident event that took place over the Fourth of July weekend in South Dakota. That event, which was covered in the run-up to it by Human Events because of the aggressive suppression and censorship it faced on social media, was a microcosm of the challenges we face as we struggle against the ever-strengthening forces of collectivism.
The actual, and slightly allegorical, story was that of the event organizer, known to attendees as Felisa@PatriotParty.Rocks, having to literally run barefoot over gravel, and at full speed, while chasing down an automobile filled with a family who had just been turned away at the event gate. They were told they "were not on the list.” The family was, in fact, “on the list” and were being denied entrance in what can only be considered a deliberate act of sabotage. It is exactly the sort of thing that we dissidents need to expect and be prepared to deal with as we continue our fight to alter the current trajectory of America.
Felisa caught the family, got them admitted into the event, and tore up both feet in the process. In the moment, she thought there was nothing significant about what she had done. Later that day when she shared what had happened, someone asked her why she did what she did, run across gravel barefoot to chase down a car while showing no regard for her own personal well-being. She simply responded, “What else was I supposed to do? They are patriots. I had to do something.”
The metaphor from the story was clear. Given the current state of our country, for those who wish to join in the struggle to restore individual liberty, we are going to have to be willing to take off our shoes and run on the rocks. We are going to have to take risks. We are going to have to expose ourselves to the potential to suffer both personal pain and loss.
For this dissident, who was fortunate enough to be a featured speaker on the main stage Saturday evening, the South Dakota event was an almost Homeric experience. Along the way, we encountered heroes, villains, unexpected adversity, uplifting moments, grotesque oddities, and pleasant wonders. There were people who abandoned commitments, people who rose above and beyond, people who sabotaged, and people who did exactly what they were supposed to do. By Sunday, in its final manifestation, it had become an almost spiritual gathering of like-minded, patriotic souls who were able to feel safe and share in a common experience free of the judgment, ridicule, and shame they encounter in the outside world from family, friends, and coworkers.
The South Dakota event became like a 12-Step meeting for recovering Americans. Or, perhaps, for Americans trying to recover. There is more than just safety in numbers, there is also strength and inspiration to be found. As we look to the recent history of Eastern Europe and the various dissident movements that ultimately prevailed through perseverance, the unity found in group activity is a critical element for success. Dissidents need one another not just for efficacy, but for their very sanity.
In this space each week we will attempt to shine a light on issues and activities that are in support of what is a very necessary dissident movement in today’s United States. We will highlight struggles, acknowledge martyrs, and recommend actions. This is consistent with the day-in, day-out approach at Human Events News where our emphasis has been and will remain, bringing stories to our readers that expose the struggle taking place in real time and across our country between American individualism and global collectivism.
In the meantime, if you believe in liberty and if you are inclined to join in with the active dissident movement in this country, please, take off your shoes. Run on the rocks. We will not gain as a dissident movement without experiencing some degree of pain.