Dr. Naomi Wolf is a bestselling author, columnist, and professor; she is a graduate of Yale University and received a doctorate from Oxford. She is cofounder and CEO of DailyClout.io, a successful civic tech company.
Some people who love me advised me not to write this essay, and not to use its current title. “Take the high road,” I was advised.
Usually that is a good idea, but not in this case — not at this moment. In this essay I need to talk about some people — mainly privileged people, people who could make a difference in areas where most can’t — who are trying to justify their monumental, world-changing cowardice, at a time when we all need to be at least somewhat brave.
I am done with tolerating this quietly.
For a year and a half now, after it became clear that this crisis was never about “the virus” but rather about a global bid to kill off our free world and suppress all of our freedoms — since I and many others have been publicly vocal about this danger and doing all we can to alert our community — that is to say, humanity — I’ve been getting direct messages (“DMs”). And they are all kind of similar. And they gross me out. Here’s why.
In the DMs, people whom I know socially or professionally — people from journalism, from politics, from medicine, from science (most of them upper-middle- class ‘men in suits’) — say something like: “Naomi, I really respect your actions right now. I totally agree with what you are saying. But of course I can’t say anything publicly because [fill in the nonsensical, craven reason].”
The nonsensical and craven reason that follows this shameful message is typically something along the lines of, “My boss will get mad at me” or “My professional peers will have a problem with my speaking up.” It’s never even, “I have bills to pay.”
Your boss will get mad at you, O you who DM?
Do you understand what is at stake? If you continue to comply and collude with what has become a tyrannical oligopoly, your kids will live as slaves and as serfs forever.
The DMs insist that I am “brave.” But I am not “brave”; you’re just a p—-y.
Don’t get me wrong. I know the gender politics around ever using the epithet above. Everyone who has read my work knows that, being a woman, I have great respect for women, and for their bodies, and I understand that one does not throw around this epithet lightly or ignorantly or in a misogynist way.
But truly in such a moment of historic-level cowardice among some privileged and influential people, no other epithet will do.
I was initially baffled by these messages. Why would I be getting these? What do these people want? Why do they think I need their excuses? So I asked other, braver people WTF this was.
They laughed and said, “They want you to tell them that it is ok.”
So I am saying publicly: this is not ok.
I am exasperated by those who stay in the shadows, agreeing with the risktaking of others, who talk about their “courage.” I feel that this is a form of othering that dehumanizes and exploits those speaking out.
It casts the people who do take risks for the wellbeing of others, as being somehow naturally better-fitted for this difficult job than is the speaker. It’s a form of offloading one’s own responsibility guiltlessly onto a subgroup which is assigned the status of somehow liking the battle, or somehow fitted better for combat, by nature, than is the speaker himself.
It’s like all those guys I knew in college who never did the dishes after dinner, because they said they were really bad at it.
I don’t know anyone truly heroic who likes the current battle. But I think that most could not live with themselves if they walked away from doing what they know they can do to help — in a moment in which obvious right and wrong have not been clearer since 1941.
Dr Patrick Phillips — a Canadian ER doctor who spoke out early against the harms of “lockdowns,” when many fellow doctors were silent — said something like, “I realized that many of my peers were silent because they were worried about their careers. But I also realized that if I didn‘t speak out, soon I would have no career worth saving.” And Dr Jay Bhattacharya said, last night on Fox, when he was asked about the Great Barrington signatories having been vilified, smeared, attacked and hounded professionally for 18 months — for having been right about the harms of “lockdowns” — something like: “If I did not speak out, what was the point of my career in public health?”
Dr Peter McCullough, who, in the middle of fighting for everyone, took time to text me a way to help my loved ones who had COVID, said on television something like, “They can arrest me for saying this. Just don’t give these MRNA vaccines to your child.” He also wryly commented at another time that those opposed to his message were trying to erase the professional credentials after his name, one by one. But those dangers and those forms of bullying did not stop him.
Last night I interviewed Edward Dowd, an investor who is formerly a portfolio manager at BlackRock. He is warning the world about Pfizer fraud, and for sure, going against “principalities and powers.” He is cautioning his peers in the investment community that betting on the Pfizers of the world is a bet against freedom forever. I asked him from where he got his personal courage. He said something like, “I will keep going til we either win our freedoms back, or I am in a Gulag.”
It is truly a time in history now that is hammering out heroes and heroines in the forge of crisis.
And it is also a time of unprecedented cowardice, when those who choose collusion, when they know better, are allowing their souls to shrivel in that same heat.
There is no room left to equivocate; there is no room left to moon about in the middle.
At this point, there is no middle.
I have seen the bravest men and women of our time forced to hurtle into battle. The women leaders in this movement are certainly as courageous as men (though they get less air time): I watched Jenin Younes, of NCRA, realize she had to speak up publicly against unlawful “lockdowns”, even though she would endure professional opposition. Leslie Manookian of HFDF, early on, sued coercive governors and governments, and she won. I followed Tiffany Justice of Moms4Liberty as she was shadowed and faced down by a security guard, when she insisted on accompanying her maskless child, into a context of school bullying and mask coercion. This intimidation did not stop her; it made her more determined to protect the kids — all of our kids. Lori Roman, of the ACRU, takes every single email I forward from desperate parents trying to protect a young adult daughter or son, often a soldier, or a pregnant government employee, or a student, from forced MRNA vaccination.
I saw the warrior queens Stephanie Locricchio and Aimee Villella of Children’s Health Defense rally thousands of moms and dads to confront their abusive governors, and the cruel, forced-masking, forced-vaccinating schools; these parents put their bodies between middle schoolers and vans that were parked in the schoolyards — vans seeking to inject minors against their parents’ wishes with an experimental product, that turns out to have been generated via fraud and via the concealment of serious harms.
But that is exactly where parents’ bodies should be, in such a dangerous situation for the minors.
The real question is not, What drives such parents to put their bodies between the van and the kids?
But rather – Where the heck are all the other parents?
I watched Dr Paul Alexander race into the thick of a peaceful trucker protest in Canada that was being targeted by Canadian authorities, and send back defiant — peaceful — dispatches from the front; I listened as he spoke up on stage and in press conferences in support of the truckers’ lawful rights to freedoms of speech. I read his accounts when the brutal regime in Canada floated frightening rumors of an arrest warrant being issued for him in an attempt to intimidate him. He did not stop. Now he is with the American truckers.
I watched Dr Martin Kulldorff, Dr Sunetra Gupta, and Jeffrey Tucker, along with Dr Bhattacharya, tell the truth about “lockdowns” early and consistently in the face of continual whirlwinds of institutional and media blowback. Dr Harvey Risch dared to say that we had attained herd immunity — at a time when people were being professionally ostracized for doing so.
The reporters who showed courage — I can count them on two hands. Steven K Bannon kept producing reports on the advances of attacks on liberty in the face of government legal scrutiny. Natalie Winters and The National Pulse team reported on government malfeasance regarding COVID when the President was saber-rattling personally and scarily against purveyors of “misinformation”. Non-reporters were doing the jobs of AWOL or cowering reporters — Dr Henry Ealy and two state senators, Sen Dennis Linthicum and Sen Kim Thatcher, broke a massive story of CDC malfeasance regarding government data.
These heroines and heroes did not take these actions because it was fun or easy, or because they were already warriors for liberty as career choices. These are not entertaining, lucrative, status-filled paths.
Most such heroes and heroines, and other less-known peaceful warriors aligned with liberties right now, would no doubt rather be back in the classroom, or polishing essays on any number of other subjects, or in the lab, or enjoying their families, free of the need to face down bullies and stand up to security guards.
But unlike most of us, they understood that they were called to rise to this moment.
The thing is — we all are called, exactly similarly.
This is why you always hear heroes, when questioned about their heroism, saying “I had no choice” or “I was just doing my job.” Heroes and heroines are right. They are just doing their jobs. They are doing their jobs as human beings with responsibilities to others.
In my view, the cowardly, affluent men who Dm me for my exoneration (it is pretty much always men; I think women are more aware of when they have chosen silence, and don’t try to justify it) make the lives of all of the heroes and heroines of this moment, named and unnamed, harder.
The work of heroes and heroines is more difficult, the more that others seek to stay in the comfortable shadows, and eventually, when it is safe, ride out on the wave of change that was painfully generated by those out front.
The problem is that we are now in a time when it really matters if a lot of people resist all at once. This decision whether or not to speak up makes the difference, when it scales, between freedom or servitude forever.
Tyrannies only fall when there is mass resistance.
History is clear on this. When it is just a few — well, they are marginalized, silenced, smeared or, when things go far enough, arrested.
So, to you who DM me: thanks.
The Democrats in power recently received a political consultant’s memo that told them that a majority of voters now is sick of “restrictions,” and that the opposition’s message of restoring freedom is a winning message. This memo caused the nauseating, immediate volte-face on “restrictions” — attributed of course to “the data” and not to the obvious politics — that we are seeing now.
Well, it took the voices of dozens and hundreds of brave folks, speaking at first contrary to a mass of propaganda, and facing deplatforming, professional cancellation, and worse, to change that cultural atmosphere.
Watching these brave people made me braver than I would have been myself.
Two days ago I was in NYC. I could no longer bear the fact that my hotel, the Walker Hotel Tribeca, had a cafe and a restaurant in the lobby with signs stating that these facilities were for “vaccinated only.” I am unvaccinated, for reasons that are, of course, no one’s business but my own.
So on Day 3 of my stay, I politely informed the staff at the Blue Bottle Cafe that I was unvaccinated, and that I would now take my small coffee and my overnight oats to the forbidden lunch counter, and I would sit there peacefully, but that I would not comply with the NYC directive for the cafe to discriminate against me.
The staff informed me stertorously — doing their job – that my doing so was against NYC “mandate.” I said that I understood, but that I was nonetheless choosing not to comply. They warned that they would call the manager. I said that I understood.
I then sat down at the illegal lunch counter, texted my lawyer to be on standby, posted publicly to Gov Hochul and to Mayor Adams that I was currently intentionally violating the discriminatory NYC mandate that prevented unvaccinated people from being seated in cafes and restaurants, and that I was at the Walker Hotel Tribeca cafe lunch counter at that very moment if they wished to arrest me.
Then I waited for an hour, heart pounding, to be arrested.
Do you know what happened?
Later that day I was at Grand Central Station. Almost all of the lower level food court was roped off for the vaccinated, and there was nowhere for an unvaccinated New Yorker to sit down, let alone to eat lunch. In a restricted seating area, a heavyset bouncer in a mask was demanding people’s digital vaccinated cards along with – unprecedented in my experience — their IDs, just to enter.
I explained that I wished to enter, and that I was unvaccinated and had no “Key to NYC” pass.
Two cops appeared at once. Look at the other seating area (over there, far away) saved for the unvaccinated, they said nicely. I explained that the strength of New York City, and of America for that matter, was its diversity and its equal treatment of all, and that if people had refused to comply with other forms of discrimination and forced separate accommodations, discriminatory rules would have ended sooner. I stated for the second time that day I intended peacefully not to comply.
A third police officer, their senior, appeared. He explained that I would be given a summons for trespassing.
The cop with the notebook that contained the summons form took as long as he possibly could to write it out. No one wanted to arrest me or to give me a summons.
Finally the three cops surrounded me and firmly escorted me to the upper level. I was quite scared, but I told myself not to give in.
On the upper level, I waited to be arrested. I was braced for the handcuffs again. Once again my heart was racing. I have been arrested before in NYC, and it is frightening and uncomfortable.
But when I asked if I could now walk away and take my train — no one stopped me.
The takeaway? When I refused to comply with these unlawful “mandates” that have burnt out the soul of a once-great city, nothing happened.
The bullies, Gov Hochul and Mayor Adams, who put these scary-sounding, Dear Leader-esque, “edicts” in place, and forced free people to act against their wishes like petty tyrants, were all bluster, like the Great and Mighty Oz.
When the city and state leaders were called on it, there was nothing there.
It turned out the police were not instructed to press the law against resisters to “the mandates” – because the law would be unsustainable.
But it took those awful, frightening moments of pressing against those terrifying-sounding “mandates” to prove, at least to myself, that they were meaningless.
Other people’s courage builds possibilities in this world.
The heroes and heroines whom I know, gave me the courage to prove, that day, something that I believed was important for me to take a risk to demonstrate. I would not have known how to be brave without having witnessed their greater bravery.
There is also an ugly class divide emerging in terms of who is showing real, scaled-up courage in the face of tyranny right now.
Who are the majority of those standing up, speaking out and taking risks against tyranny?
Overwhelmingly, it is not the “Zoom class,” for all of their virtue-signaling about social justice.
It is working people. It is truckers. Moms. Firefighters and cops.
When I spoke at a rally against forcing injections on first responders in NYC, the audience was made up mostly of working people. The people who march for every other cause in NYC — my affluent, liberal “tribe” – sat that one out.
The first responders put their bodies in harm’s way for the safety of my colleagues and acquaintances; but the “Zoom class” did not reciprocate with courage of their own, to protect the bodies of first responders from coercion and from harm.
We are not all being equally brave right now, to say the least.
An old friend – an affluent, educated man – who works at the Pasteur Institute, has been trolling me relentlessly on social media for the duration of the pandemic, to assail me for my warnings about harms from MRNA vaccines.
Since the news has emerged of fraud in Pfizer’s internal trials, and the suppression of news of more deaths in the vaccinated group than the control, his trolling has abruptly ceased.
Recently, on Facebook, he sent me news of his admittedly very pretty golden retriever.
In the runup to the First World War, women handed out, to healthy young men who had not enlisted in the war effort, white feathers.
There is a metaphorical white feather to be given these days, to those who try to change the subject from the damage done by their “side” to the bodies of children — to evidence of the charm of their golden retrievers.
To end on a less furious note, I hope and trust that all people will rethink our remaining silences — we all have them — and look at ourselves, in this moment, before it is too late for all of us.
One of my favorite quotations is this, from the late poet Audre Lorde:
“My silences had not protected me. Your silence will not protect you.”
It is more true now than ever.
This is a dangerous moment indeed.
But it could also become a moment of profound blessing.
Danger, if we meet it, also gives each of us a God-given opportunity to serve our kind. In the process we become immeasurably more than we had been before.
Maybe in the course of forcing ourselves to act bravely, we actually do become brave.
Someday all of our kids and grandkids will ask each of us directly: why did you stand by? Why did you not help me?
I could not breathe. Or, God forbid: Now I have these health problems.
Or else they will say: Thank you so much for speaking for me, when I was too little to speak.
Dad, Mom – Grandma, Grandpa — they will ask: What did you do in the war?
Well, let me leave you with this question:
What did you do?