Presentation of the Flame of Freedom

Remarks by David Nott, President, Reason Foundation

Reason’s 40th Anniversary Gala
Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel

So it is now my personal honor tonight to present the Flame of Freedom Award, and I would like to invite Jennifer Kambara to come to the stage to help me present this award.  Many of you know Jennifer—she’s managed the registrations for this conference behind the scenes, keeps everything running.  And so Jennifer is going to help me with this.

After Pearl Harbor, the United States turned against its own citizens and interned Americans of Japanese descent—uprooting families, taking property, and depriving the rights of 100,000 Americans—for the fact that they were of Japanese descent.

But it’s easy to forget the mood in the country at that time -- we were at war.  There was a crisis. The Pacific fleet had been all but wiped out, and nothing but water stood between Japanese and the West Coast of America. It was a time of peril, and it was a time of fear.

There was, however, one publisher who stood on principle.  R.C. Hoiles, founder of Freedom Communications, whose seven newspapers were guided by the belief that every man is born with certain inalienable rights.

He stood up, and he said it was wrong

And the Japanese American Citizens League thanked him for his stance, saying that Hoiles “was the only one with the courage of his convictions.”

Then, as now, the flagship of the Freedom empire was the Orange County Register, and we have many people from the Register with us. Alan Bock. Steve Greenhut. Tibor Machan. Frank Mickadeit. Mark Wels’s father was Managing Editor.

And this has been a courageous paper for some time.

So tonight I am deeply honored and pleased to present the Flame of Freedom to the families who have upheld the legacy of R.C. Hoiles. It’s my personal honor, and for Jennifer it is also personal.  Jennifer’s grandparents were imprisoned during World War II for no crime but their ancestry.

It is said of the Founding Fathers that they risked their lives and fortunes to promote freedom.  The same could be said for our Flame of Freedom recipients tonight. Dick and Pat Wallace and Dave and Judy Threshie have fought to defend the values you and I hold dear throughout their lives--respect for individual freedom, integrity, self-responsibility, community, and life-long learning—and in doing so, they have built a communications empire that successfully advances the ideas of individual liberty, rule of law, and free markets.

It has not always been easy. As R.C. himself wrote, “Too many newspapers are afraid of saying something of offending somebody and losing a dollar by taking an unpopular position. The result is that they cease to develop, cease to be of much use.”

Thanks to the influence of Dick and Pat and Dave and Judy, Freedom does not fear the wrath of its readers when principles are at stake. The Orange County Register is the largest newspaper in the country to have opposed the Iraq war from the beginning, and one of the few publications in the country that opposes laws about sex and drugs, advocates an end to the U.S. trade embargo of Cuba, and decries the suspension of habeus corpus after Sept. 11.

Seventy years after it’s founding, Freedom Communications remains a family-owned company that is true to the vision of its founder.  By holding their principles in highest esteem, Dick and Pat and Dave and Judy have shown that, in the words of Lord Acton, “liberty is not a means to a higher political end. It is the highest political end.”

Dick, Pat would you please come to the stage—and as they do, please join me in thanking them.

David Nott is President




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