When the history of this period is written, it will include people who resorted to violence when nonviolence would have moved mountains; people who resorted to lies when they had the truth on their side; people who watched silently when their bravery was needed.
No progress ever stems from lies, violence and cowardice.
During the summer of 2020, as riots and gratuitous violence were taking over the streets of New York City, as the media and politicians on the left spouted lie after lie after lie, as evil was being called good and good being called evil, I came across a quote from Sophie Scholl: “Stand up for what you believe in even if you’re standing alone.”
Scholl was part of an intellectual resistance group at the University of Munich in 1942 called Weisse Rose (White Rose). With the aim of exposing the crimes of the Nazis, the group sent letters around the world, dropped leaflets throughout Germany and graffitied “Freedom” on walls all over Munich.
Most were fairly religious Christians who believed that they could not continue in good conscience knowing about the Third Reich’s barbaric atrocities.
Their leaflets quoted from the Bible, Aristotle and Goethe. A white rose was chosen to represent purity. The group knew that in a society where thoughts and words were banned, they could face death as a result of disseminating the truth. But they felt they could not remain silent.
Within days of being caught distributing leaflets, they underwent “trials” and three — including Sophie and her brother, Hans — were executed by guillotine. Sophie’s father, who previously had been arrested for calling Hitler the “scourge of God,” told her how proud he was of them. Han’s last words were “Es lebe die freiheit!” Let freedom live!
In 1997, after the publication of my book “The Lipstick Proviso: Women, Sex & Power in the Real World,” I was hit with stage 1 of cancel culture. I was verbally bludgeoned by women’s studies professors for daring to voice two truths: biological differences between the sexes exist, and feminism only means freedom, not a laundry list of political opinions. They slammed me for heresy in print, on radio shows, in phone calls in the middle of the night. It was my first encounter with today’s thought police.
In 2014, the terrorist group Hamas captured and murdered three Israeli teens. On Facebook, I waited for my political friends to post something. To my astonishment, those in the art world took Hamas’ side. To my even greater astonishment, friends I had worked with at the New York Times, the Washington Post, the New Republic — liberal Jewish friends — posted nothing.
“Oh,” a longtime friend told me, “you can’t defend Israel publicly.” Why not? “You just can’t. And if you do, I can’t be friends with you.”
I’ve never taken orders from friends and wasn’t about to start. I began to defend Israel, hoping it would encourage my Jewish liberal friends to do the same. It didn’t. A few even unfriended me, and the partners of two of my best friends blocked me.
All because I dared to tell the truth.
Since then, I’ve defended not only Israel but also classical liberal values. As Maajid Nawaz, the founder of the think tank Quilliam, realized when he was being attacked for denouncing terrorism, the left was no longer liberal. It had become, in his words, “regressive leftist.”
As a columnist for the L.A.-based Jewish Journal, I tried to show how leftism was illiberal. But nothing mattered. It kept getting worse. Mob justice ruled, forcing cancellations and firings; anti-journalism (aka propaganda) replaced journalism; neo-racism emerged as a state religion.
It also got personal: Because of Covid, I was able to hear millennial teachers try to indoctrinate my 11-year-old, just as they had been indoctrinated in college.
Last year, I began to look deeper into what WeiBe Rose stood for and accomplished. What was needed, I thought, was a new magazine rooted in the bravery and moral clarity of those German students.
A publication independent of both parties and thus able to engage in real journalism: reporting the truth and calling out whichever side went off the extremist edge. One that would reteach the values of classical liberalism — individualism, heterodoxy, liberty, ethics — because no knowledge of those values can be found in newsrooms, classrooms, even the halls of Congress. A magazine that would state unequivocally that liberalism rests on a foundation of objective truth, objective morality and a pluralism of opinion.
A publication that shows why culture in general and art in particular must be depoliticized (depoliticized art has the greatest ability to elevate and unite — precisely what is needed right now). A publication that would show how the principles of liberalism and aesthetics align.
Our goal is to honor the students of White Rose, and to make them proud. Our clarion call is the same: no more silence. You’re either calling out the illiberalism or covering it up. Working to liberate or to suppress. Standing up for true liberalism or bowing down to fascism. It’s well past time to revive the bravery of Martin Luther King Jr., John F. Kennedy and Golda Meir.
It’s well past time for the rebellion of freedom.