It is often remarked that Texas is the greatest place in America for freedom. Talk to any fourth- or fifth-generation Texan long enough, and you’ll soon hear anecdotes and folk legends about how the state’s history is virtually written in the blood of gallant men and women who overcame the merciless American frontier, overthrew a repressive government, and established a republic where an empire once held sway.
2020, however, has had a way of subverting our expectations, often in the worst ways possible. What happened to Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) this week was no exception.
As more than 1,400 YAL students and 100 elected officials prepared to gather in Dallas on Monday for YAL’s premier event, the organization received word that the city had issued a “force majeure” order canceling it “to limit the spread of COVID-19.” This happened a mere three days before the event was scheduled to kick off — and in spite of several months of caffeinated workdays registering attendees, booking flights, and coordinating with investors. YAL even had its staging, banners, and audio/video equipment waiting in the parking lot of the venue.
Make no mistake: This was never about safety. With tyrants, it never is.
The City of Dallas is playing political favorites. Millions of Americans have taken to the streets to protest, riot, loot, and vandalize over the last two months, often failing to wear masks or abide by basic social-distancing guidelines. In Dallas, protests have continued for more than 40 consecutive days, in many cases amounting to thousands of protesters in the streets at any given time. In fact, just last month, the city’s “leadership” — if we can even call them that — lifted curfew restrictions on protesters after they had filled the streets for nine straight days. Yet the city has made zero interventions against these people on the basis of “public health.”
The city’s problem is not that 1,000 socially distanced students would have been in the same room with masks and temperature checks. It is not that city officials had the best interests of their people at heart as they made this decision. It is not even that they are trying to curb the spread of COVID-19. It is that YAL was there to teach young people how to fight the very kind of tyranny the city relishes.
Perhaps if this event were named “Mobilize Black Lives Matter,” it would not have been canceled. Who knows, maybe YAL could have even gotten CNN or MSNBC to issue a glowing story about it, calling attendees “mostly peaceful protesters.” Perhaps the organization could have even established an autonomous zone so Democratic mayors such as Jenny Durham and Ted Wheeler could praise it. It could be called the “Summer of Love.”
Some critics have said YAL should have known this would happen. The organization scheduled this months ago, however, and YAL had been in close contact with local officials to ensure the organization followed all protocols. The city demanded YAL have only boxed meals, and YAL obeyed. The city demanded YAL keep groups who traveled with one another together at the event, and YAL obeyed. The city demanded all seating be arranged according to social-distancing requirements, and YAL obeyed.
YAL played the city’s game, and it changed the rules when it was too late to adapt. This was a deliberate and politicized move to crush a liberty-aligned organization’s ability to gather and express its First Amendment rights.
One canceled convention and one organization’s troubles are not the biggest problem. The problem is the greater outpouring of tyranny that has spread across this country like a corrosive acid, slowly dissolving our constitutional liberties one mask mandate, one shelter-in-place order, one bankrupted business, and one canceled event at a time.
If we are to save our country from little dictators like the local mafia-style overlords running Dallas, the time for playing nice is over. We will never get a fair fight or an equal playing field, no matter how far we bend or how much we compromise. The time to meet these tyrants head-on is now.