The Intellectual Defense of Liberty
“We will never ‘win’… not in as much as we define winning as a long term prospect, for our enemy is entropy. We mow the grass and put away the lawn mower, but as soon as the blades stop spinning, the grass begins to grow anew. We may weed our garden, but the weeds must always be kept at bay. We never ‘win’ a fight for freedom… we hold tyranny back for a little while longer. We are, as been said before… guardians of freedom, but despotism is only a generation away.”
Bill Whittle, conservative blogger and speaker, Antonia Okafor, NRA contributor and the founder of campuscarry.org, and James O’Keefe, investigative journalist graciously gave their time to Artemis staff and friends this last Friday for a brief Q&A.
Mr. Whittle’s assistant Karla had called into Artemis the week before and spoke to Sandy. The three of them were going to be in Southern California and wanted to come into Artemis for some training. Sandy asked her if she thought the three would be willing to have a “sit down” with some of our members and guests… all thought it would be a wonderful idea.
I acted as the moderator… and since I had the power of the lectern, I threw out the first question.
“How do you define freedom? Is freedom the ability to live your life as you see fit, or is freedom the state of being devoid of economic requirements… comfortable in the knowledge that all of your “needs” have been satisfied by a benevolent power.”
The answers were interesting…
(If you are coming from the Newsletter, begin reading here)
A strong Libertarian theme permeated all of the answers, with Whittle offering one of the most interesting lines of the afternoon. “Freedom is not attained through slavery.”
Antonia was more circumspect. “God grants dignity through work, our work is what makes us who we are.”
James O’Keefe, the consummate journalist acknowledged the debate as to how we define freedom but was more focused on those that would use power as a means of self advancement at the expense of the governed.
All were in agreement that the work that James does… exposing hypocrisy and corruption… is at the very core the defense against tyranny. One of my favorite examples of this is his undercover video regarding voter fraud. Within the District of Columbia, there has been a fight to prevent the necessity of an individual requirement to present a photo ID when getting their ballot at a polling place. The rational behind those who feel it unnecessary is that it is an unconstitutional burden on the fundamental right to vote. In reality their motivation is more nefarious. Not requiring a photo ID allows for voter fraud. The beneficiaries of that fraud tend to be those that have established institutional power.
James tested the system by reporting to former Attorney Generals Eric Holder’s polling location and asked for Eric Holder’s ballot. He was offered General Holder’s ballot without verification that he was in fact Eric Holder. Before accepting it, James suggested it might be a good idea for him to provide photo ID anyway. The polling worker was insistent that that was not necessary. James, said he would feel more comfortable if he did, and that his license was back in his car. The polling worker shrugged her shoulders, and James headed out to his car, ostensibly to retrieve his ID. His parting words as he left were “I’ll be right back, faster than you can say furious.”
When asked how we, as individuals could defend against tyranny, Whittle picked up his phone and showed it to the group.
“There have been three transformational events in human history. The agrarian revolution, the industrial revolution, and now the technological revolution. Unfortunately the structures of power were built during the last eon. They no longer serve us, nor do they make rational sense. Yet those that benefit from this institutional power will fight to the death to preserve it. Just as they did when we went from agriculture to industrial. Today anyone can order steel from China right from your phone and have it arrive directly to your factory. There is no central planning, there is no necessity for a bureaucracy. This phone, your laptop, your IPad… it represents an existential threat to the power structure.”
James went further.
“That phone has something on it that is the single greatest weapon against the tyrant… a camera. There is a saying, if there is no video, it never happened. Just as the government sees the edifices of power jeopardized by this new eon, so do those who for decades provided us our edited journalism.”
He has a point. CNN has during its best times an audience of around a million viewers. Many viral videos that expose hypocrisy or corruption are viewed millions of times… essentially bypassing the media completely.
As such the media,.. and those that they protect, are less than thrilled about this development.
Dale Terrien asked a poignant question of Antonia, “… colleges have become incubators of liberalism, to the point that if you do not actively support a liberal cause you are by default opposed to it. With that in mind, how do you provide a forum for competitive ideology?”
Antonia’s response was also interesting. “Through emotion.”
Antonia pointed out that most conservatives tend to argue through a paradigm of logic. She grew up though as a devout liberal, as such her emotional side tends to be far more developed. She argued that a message that exclusively relies on logic will be lost on a generation that exists solely in an emotive form. “You need to appeal to their emotions first and logic second.”
So what are we in the end to do?
All the panelists agreed that we must embrace technology. The cameras on our phones and our computers are by far the most effective defenses against tyranny. So are our associations. Strength comes first through the passionate defense of liberty. Strength is multiplied and becomes insurmountable when we channel that support through structure. Join the NRA, Join the CRPA, take online courses at Hillsdale College,… train, train, train. Train not just your body but your mind. Question assumptions and the edicts of the powerful. When intellectually sound, support them… when dubious or unconstitutional, fight them… when corrupt, expose them!
Finally,… support those that are in the fight with us. Seek out those that are on the front lines of freedom and give them aid and support. Look for bloggers, Youtubers, and pundits, and follow them… donate to them… forward their writings to friends. Start with these three… Bill Whittle, James O’Keefe and Antonia Okafor.
Remember, each generation has a unique responsibility to ensure that our freedoms and liberty are handed off to the next. The forces of tyranny always wait for an opportunity to oppress… NEVER NEVER NEVER give them that opening.