Students and guests met in the IUPUI Campus Center last Wednesday to hear P.J. O'Rourke speak on the topic of freedom. It was a discussion that can be best described by the event's title: "Future of Freedom: Why Global Democracy Matters." O'Rourke is a journalist, political satirist, an author of four best-sellers and a frequent panelist on the game show Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me produced by National Public Radio.
Accompanying O'Rourke was Arch Puddington, the director of research from Freedom House. Freedom House is a nonprofit organization that was established in 1941when America was dealing with issues of McCarthyism and racial segregation. Its main goal is to work as an advocate for freedom in this country and others.
O'Rourke is worried about freedom and where it is heading in the United States. "I am a bit concerned at the moment that the fundamental idea of freedom may be in retreat," said O'Rourke.
He explained this by talking about the recent Senate approval of Hillary Rodham Clinton as secretary of state and her total lack of mentioning freedom and democracy in her acceptance speech.
O'Rourke mentioned freedom as a national effort. "Every time we have failed, we as a nation have failed, to actively engage ourselves on the side of freedom it has come around and bit us in the ass."
Freedom House does a lot of work outside the country. There are some Americans that believe that other countries really hate the United States. This is only partly true. As O'Rourke explains, "There's this idea that America is loathed and detested. There's some truth in that, more than a little truth, but America is also a sort of beacon. Two ideas can exist simultaneously."
Americans are so accustom to the freedoms in this country. What's that old motto, that Americans are governed by the people and for the people? It's hard to understand oppression and exploitation when there is so much protection. Freedom then is hard to describe. O'Rourke said it best, "You can't exactly, of course, define freedom because every body's idea of freedom is different. There are however objective measures that you can measure oppression. While you can't measure freedom exactly, you can measure its absence."
This final note is motivation enough to engage people in O'Rourke and Puddington's fight for freedom. That fight is a foreign action and a one that is still being fought for some Americans right here in the land of the free.