Dorothy Thompson as a model to resist tyranny

The intrepid journalist laughed at Nazis. Could Americans emulate her boldness to defend liberty today? Photo: Dorothy Thompson

WASHINGTON, DC, January 23, 2013 — Dorothy Thompson knew how to oppose tyranny.

As a correspondent in Europe in the 1920s and 1930s, Thompson witnessed Adolph Hitler’s rise to power, his dismantling of civil liberties, and his transformation of Germany into a dictatorship. In 1934, Thompson was the first correspondent expelled from Nazi Germany for her writing.

On Feb. 20, 1939, Nazi sympathizers called the German-American Bund rallied 22,000 people at Madison Square Garden. By then, Thompson was a columnist for the New York Herald Tribune. On her way to a speaking engagement, she decided to stop briefly at the Bund rally. In American Cassandra: The Life of Dorothy Thompson, Peter Kurth describes what happened next:

“She took her seat in the front row of the press gallery and commenced to interrupt the speakers with strident gales of raucous laughter, humiliating and infuriating the pride of American Nazism so deeply that after about ten minutes of this, while the Bundists shouted ‘Throw her out!,’ she was actually surrounded by a unit of Fritz Kuhn’s ‘Storm Troopers’ and muscled out the door.

“‘Bunk!’ cried Dorothy as she left the auditorium. ‘Bunk, bunk, bunk! Mein Kampf, word for word!’”

Thompson went on to her engagement that night and on to fight fascism throughout her career.

Using Thompson’s example, could modern Americans learn to resist tyranny in their own country consistently and boldly?

Today’s tyrants are in both parties, and they routinely pass or uphold laws that infringe on Constitutional rights. Here are a few examples of how your “leaders” have undermined the Bill of Rights:

The TSA’s trashing of the Fourth Amendment continues at the nation’s airports, with no terrorists caught yet.

The Patriot Act expanded the government’s ability to spy on anyone by removing the Fourth Amendment’s requirements for probable cause and search warrants. It was signed by President Bush, and its most controversial provisions were extended by President Obama.

The detention provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act 2012 (NDAA) subvert the Fifth and Sixth Amendments by providing the framework for the military to indefinitely detain anyone without a trial, including American citizens on American soil.

Congress regularly introduces cybersecurity bills that threaten the First and Fourth Amendments, and Obama says he may “secure” the Internet by executive order.

Now the Second Amendment is under attack, and people are justifiably upset. But where is the sustained opposition to all these infringements? Shouldn’t we be concerned about the entire Bill of Rights? Why would one or two rights stand if the rest fall?

In the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson said that rights don’t come from the government, but rather the government exists to protect our God-given freedoms.

Those who hold the Declaration’s truths to be self-evident need to reclaim them and awaken the rest of the nation. To oppose tyranny, millions of citizens, regardless of political party, must learn about liberty and confidently defend it.

Here are some specific ideas:

Question everything the government and the media say.

Stop expecting the government, especially the federal government, to intervene in people’s personal lives.

Attend a modest college, or work your way through. Stay out of debt. Build up your local community by attending church, keeping your family strong, mentoring at-risk kids, doing yard work for single moms or volunteering at food banks.

Read our country’s founding documents and books about the Founding Fathers. Read and discuss history books with your children. Watch “Liberty’s Kids” DVDs. Take history and economics courses at Tom Woods’ Liberty Classroom.

Send letters to the editor, call radio shows, or make YouTube videos explaining the government’s unconstitutional actions.

Ask your U.S. senators and representative: Why are you letting the president maintain a kill list? When are you going to repeal the NDAA detention provisions? Most importantly, do not vote to re-elect anybody who voted away your rights. Work to elect candidates who respect the Constitution and personal freedom.

Finally, using Dorothy Thompson’s example, look for unexpected ways to resist tyranny. A sit-in? A laugh-in? A neighborhood birthday party for the Bill of Rights on Dec. 15? It all depends on the situation and your imagination. But I hope that citizens will devise acts of civil disobedience and peaceful resistance heretofore unimagined in order to raise awareness of our natural rights.

In 1937, Thompson described how compliant citizens unwittingly usher in tyranny. Her admonition seems as timely now as ever:

“No people ever recognize their dictator in advance. He never stands for election on the platform of dictatorship. He always represents himself as the instrument for expressing the Incorporated National Will. … When our dictator turns up you can depend on it that he will be one of the boys, and he will stand for everything traditionally American. … And nobody will ever say ‘Heil’ to him. … But they will greet him with one great big, universal, democratic, sheeplike bleat of ‘O.K., Chief! Fix it like you wanna, Chief! Oh Kaaaay!’”


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Andreatta Geerdes


Andreatta Geerdes is a Ron Paul Republican who enjoys reading, politicking  and spending time with her family. She believes that only informed citizens can restore the American Republic.

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