Naomi Wolf on Censorship, Vaccine Passports, and the Reversal of ‘My Body, My Choice’

BY ZACHARY STIEBER and JAN JEKIELEK (For Epoch Times) - July 30, 2021

The growing number of people banned from Big Tech platforms is leading to a wave of self-censorship, journalist Naomi Wolf says.

Wolf was banned by Twitter last month for allegedly sharing misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines.

Wolf told The Epoch Times that her account was frozen after she posted a video of her husband reading the resume of Dr. Ralph Baric, who received U.S. government funding to conduct gain of function research. She was banned after uploading a press release from Oregon Sen. Kim Thatcher’s bill that would ban vaccine passports and mask mandates.

“To me, if we’ve gotten to a point where a giant tech company, or even a little company, is silencing people who are providing first-hand sourcing for major, major news stories, or reading press releases from elected officials, that’s like not America anymore,” Wolf said on The Epoch Times’ “American Thought Leaders,” adding that she believes she broke no rules.

Twitter’s statement that the ban stemmed from spreading misinformation is damaging to Wolf’s career and she accused the company of “singling out citizens and smearing them baselessly.”

Wolf joined former President Donald Trump’s lawsuit against Big Tech companies earlier this month.

Further, Wolf, a former adviser to ex-President Bill Clinton, believes the ongoing purge of voices that dissent from the dominant form of thought on COVID-19 and other issues, and the warnings some users receive before getting banned, is resulting in a climate of self-censorship and is reminiscent of emerging totalitarian societies.

“I’m Jewish, I’m allowed to say this, they totally did things like this in Germany, when it was still a fragile democracy. Like creating very vague laws, that if you broke the rules, you were in big trouble. But you could never really know what was going to trigger that breaking of the rules,” she said.

Wolf said the “chilling effect” her ban has had on other journalists is evident because some have reached out to her about it.

“I’ve gotten so many emails from other reporters saying, ‘I really admire you, I’m so sorry you were de-platformed.’ And when I would say ‘well, can you say that publicly?’ They universally said ‘I would, but I’m really afraid of being de-platformed.’ And I’ve seen the self censorship that has gone on in the wake of some high-profile de-platforming of journalists,” she said.

“I want us to remember what it means to be American. In America, right, there is no policeman telling you what feelings are appropriate or not appropriate. And I fear—yes, they’re a private platform, they can do what they want—but when the government uses our tax dollars to send a message that these tech companies will do their bidding and will target their enemies or their critics, in a way that chills debate. They’ve got around the First Amendment, and they’ve gotten around the Constitution, and that’s what we should look at.”

Below is the transcript of the Interview with Naomi Wolf:

“I can’t believe that the left, with its long tradition of fighting for free speech” is “just giving [that] up,” says feminist author and journalist Naomi Wolf.

Wolf, a longtime liberal and former adviser to the political campaigns of both Bill Clinton and Al Gore, breaks down the dangers she sees inherent to vaccine passports and a “scary marriage” of government, big pharma, and Big Tech censorship. “We’ve reached a kind of digital Stalinism,” Wolf says.

Wolf is the founder and CEO of DailyClout.io, a platform helping people engage in the democratic process. This episode was filmed at the FreedomFest conference in South Dakota.

Jan Jekielek: Naomi Wolf, such a pleasure to have you on American Thought Leaders.

Naomi Wolf: I’m so happy to be speaking to you. I’ve been an admirer of The Epoch Times for a long time.

Mr. Jekielek: Thank you for that. Our audience has definitely been growing, and it’s quite a diverse audience actually. We recently covered you joining this class action lawsuit with former President Trump, against broadly speaking Big Tech. Tell me a bit about this.

Mrs. Wolf: I should note that it’s actually thousands of people who are part of this class action lawsuit, and he’s certainly the best known. I should also note that I didn’t vote for him. He’s not my guy. I don’t agree with him about a lot of things, but I do agree that Big Tech should not be censoring private individuals and that it’s a huge blow to civic discourse that they would go as far as to censor a former United States president.

It’s a lawsuit that America First has put together. I’m not yet formally admitted to it, though. I just got the documents to sign. So I believe I’ll be part of it.

It’s a pretty compelling lawsuit, because I think a lot of people are aware that Big Tech has started to purge, like in a Stalinist way, to go after—first it was the conservatives. And at first it was marginal people. At first it was people inciting violence, which is never good, and is not First Amendment protected speech.

But then it was me, and the reason I was deplatformed by Twitter, about five weeks ago, and my 146,000 followers can no longer find me there is I posted a video of my husband, a PI, reading Dr. Ralph Baric’s CV, which clearly identifies gain-of-function research and NIH funding for his research. That got 74,000 views before my account was frozen.

The second thing I want to note is I was deplatformed a day later, as I was trying to upload a press release verbatim that I was reading, that I’d read verbatim, of a sitting United States Senator Kim Thatcher of Oregon, about her bill SB 872 to ban vaccine passports and mask mandates.

To me, if we’ve gotten to a point where a giant tech company or even a little company is silencing people who are providing first hand sourcing for major, major news stories or reading press releases from elected officials, that’s like not America anymore.

The last thing I wanna say about that is that the Twitter spokesperson told a lot of news outlets that I was deplatformed, and told them the reason was vaccine misinformation, which is very damaging. I’m a reporter and I have 35 years of extremely solid reporting and eight bestselling nonfiction books. That’s scary too, that Big Tech is kind of singling out citizens and smearing them baselessly.

And now we’ve seen it last week just to move from myself to a much more general situation. When Jen Psaki at the White House, the White House spokeswoman, identified 12 private citizens who were expressing their opinions and at the level of the White House told Big Tech go after these people. It’s a scary marriage of government and technology in censoring open debate.

Mr. Jekielek: It sounds to me like you’re saying that you don’t believe you broke any rules here even?

Mrs. Wolf: I guess first of all, I would challenge that phrasing “broken the rules.” Every private company, and I’m a CEO of tech. I have my own platform. We have terms of service. Twitter has terms of service. Every private company is entitled to say: if you violate our terms of service, you can be deplatformed, but nowhere in the fine print, and I read terms of service, as a CEO of tech, I read theirs.

It didn’t say we’re going to go to your employers and tell them you’re not credible. If I had seen that, I would have built up 12 years of Intellectual Capital on another platform. And also those terms of service change all the time. The last time I read the terms of service, pretty recently, they said don’t harass, no threats of violence, no advertising.

That’s all completely legitimate, but they didn’t say don’t post the CV of a grant recipient of the NIH. And they didn’t say don’t post any communications from elected United States government officials.

Mr. Jekielek: And you’re also saying that no one actually communicated with you directly. I can say, just some of our unfortunate experience with a number of big tech companies, that seems to be the MO.

Mrs. Wolf: Yes. Again, I keep thinking of training, like obedience training, because I had been briefly deplatformed before. And when I was raising my kids in the nineties, there was this very popular book called “123 Timeout.” You’re supposed to read that’s one, that’s two, and the third time they go to their room. That’s discipline, and that’s appropriate for a toddler.

It’s not appropriate for a 58-year-old journalist and an author or anyone because that’s really conditioning. It was like: first strike, don’t do this again. Second strike. Third time’s going to end in suspension. But there’s no communication like “This is off limits” or “Don’t go near vaccine information” or “Don’t post the Moderna website.”

Again, nothing I did violated the terms of service, the last time I had read them, and nothing in the communication was the kind of way you would communicate to a customer about breaking the rules. And this is very characteristic of a bigger picture of closing democracies or emerging totalitarian societies.

I’m Jewish, so I’m allowed to say this. They totally did things like this in Germany when it was still a fragile democracy, like creating very vague laws that if you broke the rules, you were in big trouble, but you could never really know what was gonna trigger that breaking of the rules. And it could be for very trivial things like listening to BBC radio or making fun of the fuhrer. But that might trigger a very harsh penalty.

I’m not saying it’s the same thing, but I’m saying you do see in closing democracies this kind of training that: “Oh, if you go too far, but we won’t tell you exactly what that is, something terrible will happen to you.” Certainly, I do think, to give interviews, which the Twitter spokesperson did with every major news outlet in North America and Britain, many of which I write for like The Guardian, calling me not credible was very much a gut kind of demonstration to other journalists of what could happen to you.

I’ve obviously survived that. That’s not the worst thing in the world, but what’s really scary is the ripple effect. It has the chilling effect on other journalists, because I’ve gotten so many emails from other reporters saying, “I really admire you. I’m so sorry you were deplatformed.” And when I would say, “Well, can you say that publicly?” They universally said, “I would, but I’m really afraid of being deplatformed.” And I’ve seen the self-censorship that has gone on in the wake of some high-profile deplatforming of journalists.

Also the last thing I want to say is your wonderful journalist, [Ivan] Pentchoukov, asked me something like, “Do you feel what you said is appropriate?” or something like that. I don’t want to mischaracterize what he said, but I want us to remember what it means to be American in America.

There is no policemen telling you what feelings are appropriate or not appropriate. Yes, they’re a private platform. They can do what they want, but when the government uses our tax dollars to send a message that these tech companies will do their bidding and will target their enemies or their critics in a way that chills debate, they’ve got around the First Amendment, and they’ve gotten around the constitution. That’s what we should look at.

Mr. Jekielek: One of the reasons we started Epoch TV, our own platform, is for example, on American Thought Leaders, I was discussing with our producer: “Should we have this person on?” And we were asking, “Hey, maybe, maybe we’ll get deplatformed. Maybe they will delete this video. Is it even worth it?”

I was like, “My goodness, what am I thinking? This is not the types of things that I should be thinking.” What’s the important story? Who is the thought leader that I want to speak with? Thank goodness, because right now I think someone was deplatformed because they did an interview with you. …

Mrs. Wolf: I just found that out. My Yale classmate, Eric Metaxas, who’s a well-known conservative podcaster and a beautiful writer just told me right before I came to you that YouTube had frozen him. The reason they gave him was an interview he did with me some months ago about vaccine passports. And I have to say, I am seeing a pattern: when it’s about vaccine passports.

Then YouTube froze us for uploading a video about a citizen in Oregon, who is explaining how you can lobby your state representative. The example she gave was she successfully lobbied against vaccine passports, and YouTube froze us.

So I am seeing these two no-go areas, but I was astonished that Eric Metaxas, who has hundreds of thousands of subscribers and is on, I think, 30 channels got frozen and wonderful content.

They’re shooting their own business model in the foot, but he got frozen because of a video in which every single thing I said was absolutely factual.

No one has ever contradicted what I had to say about the danger of vaccine passports, because I’m CEO of a tech company, and I understand the danger of vaccine passports. It’s not difficult to understand what is involved when vaccine passports are made a matter of law.

So yes, I’m shocked, and I’m starting to feel a little bit like journalism’s Typhoid Mary, but he said it was a compliment that now he’s joining me and the voices that are being singled out for telling the truth,

Mr. Jekielek: It’s fascinating because just this term “misinformation,” now it’s almost gotten to the point where it’s kind of lost meaning. Misinformation is just whatever a given group doesn’t like. It’s almost like you can’t even use the word anymore.

Mrs. Wolf:
Yes, I’m really glad you’re looking at that word because like “incitement,” “misinformation” is a word that can close down a democracy. “Misinformation” presumes that some information is allowed and other information is not allowed.

Whereas in America, free speech means people are free to say really stupid things or wrong things or things that don’t bear scrutiny, but that’s how we get smarter and smarter is that we have open debate, and we see where stupid ideas fall apart.

And we are exposed to different points of view, and people can criticize or question the experts. What’s really scary and fascistic about the word “misinformation,” the tech companies, and now the Biden administration, are constructing it this way.

There’s this layer of professional experts who are blessed by the administration or by Big Tech or by Pharma or all three. And you can listen to them. You have to listen to them and [no one can question]—no matter how credentialed. This ranges from Peter McCullough, who was deplatformed for a while—he’s had 500 academic citations—ranging to, well, me, having written in every major news outlet for 35 years, to the president of the United States.

We could go on and on. Anyone who’s critical, or a man or woman in the street, who has every right, every bit as much value in his or her opinion as anyone else, they’re not allowed to question. If you go against the priestly knowledge cast, then bad things can happen to you.

In my own experience, and now in Eric’s experience and for many people who are being deplatformed, it’s not just reputational percussions, it’s major business repercussions. When AWS [Amazon Web Services], which is a server, tells conservative platforms that they will not host their platforms or payment processors and say: we’re not gonna process payments to you—and these are not terrorist organizations—then we’ve reached a kind of digital Stalinism.

Mr. Jekielek:
You describe yourself as a distressed liberal.

Mrs. Wolf: Yes.

Mr. Jekielek: That’s an interesting formulation to me. I could see many layers there potentially.

Mrs. Wolf: Oh, you’re going to make me cry. What can I say? It’s not a secret anymore. I think many people from the pure left—and I see myself as a classical liberal, left liberal.

Something’s wrong. I worked really hard to elect Joe Biden. I campaigned for him. We ran campaigns for his policies. I worked really hard using my voice to defeat President Trump. I think there are a lot of things wrong with conservatism that we can talk about if you like, but classical liberalism, individual rights, freedom of speech, my body, my choice, equality.

Equality of opportunity has been almost be smirked. And what has arisen really quickly in its place—and it really got consolidated since November—is a kind of very totalitarian CCP-style or fascistic ideological rigidity that I don’t recognize.

I knew we were in trouble when a bunch of conservatives were deplatformed, and left wing friends and allies and colleagues on social media were cheering. There’s no one who reads history thinks that’s good. No one who reads history thinks they’ll stop with the other side. They never stop with the other side.

I am not an anti-vaxxer. I want to make that really clear. That’s been part of the baseless and wrong attacks on me to discredit what I think is some very important journalism around Ralph Baric and gain-of-function and around other things involving criticisms of the lockdown and so on.

But I don’t believe in medical coercion. And I know that totalitarian states, like I read history, and I wrote in “The End of America,” your body is where to tell a tyrannism takes place. There are reasons that in a free society, there are laws saying you can’t see my medical records. You can’t force me to take a medical procedure. You can’t force me to have an abortion. You can’t force me to have a child.

Maybe as a woman, I understand the danger of the state invading the body more than people who don’t think about gender and feminism, but the history of totalitarianism is the state saying, “You will do this with your body, whether you want to or not.” Because once the state can do that, there’s no resistance. You can’t push back after that.

And so when I see The Left embracing a kind of cult around medical coercion and a cult around not asking questions and kind of rolling back the enlightenment, like literally left-wing friends of mine and loved ones have said, “Don’t send me peer reviewed studies, because I don’t want to know that you’ve got evidence that contradicts the comforting layer of very expensive propaganda at the top. I don’t wanna see it.”

These are sophisticated educated people. Some of them are journalists. Don’t send me peer reviewed, published studies that will show that these guys are wrong. Don’t send me information about the CDC having a foundation that gets $12 million a year from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and from pharmaceutical companies. Don’t tell me there’s something wrong with what has become a kind of pantheon of gods who are unquestionable

That’s not the left. That’s not the left I respect. That’s not the noble tradition. Especially since I’m Jewish, the Jewish liberal tradition back to the 19th century. And before that, critical thinking, questioning authority, aggressive skepticism about the priest class and experts. We’re the people who kept asking questions; many other people did as well.

But I can’t believe that the left, with its long tradition of fighting for free speech, Ginsburg, the Howell Trials, the Lady Chatterley Trials, the whole movement of literacy and education of working people and public education, free public libraries.

Those are should be our legacy as well as everyone else’s. And we’re just giving it up and saying, you know what? We wanna join this cult because it’s in power and not joining it is scary. It’s terrifying.

Mr. Jekielek: And of course whatever the truth of the day is it can change. We saw that, for example, with this lab leak theory hypothesis. We were heavily censored for writing about that. This is a reasonable thing to consider, not saying this is the answer.

But it took another year, and somehow the consensus changed, at least somewhat, maybe not completely. That to me highlights just how incredibly disturbing this kind of reality is because that truth can change. History rewritten—these are the kinds of things I’m asking myself.

Mrs. Wolf: Well, you should be. First of all, I keep saying, let’s look at the frame that’s been imposed on us. There is such thing now as the consensus, and that’s toxic. There used to be points of view. In the heyday of journalism in the 19th century, there were scores of newspapers in New York city alone.

You know, when immigrants became literate, all they wanted to do was read a paper and debate or argue in the barbershop or on the street, over the push carts, different points of view. That was America.

And the fact that there is a consensus and that if you are asking questions—as you rightly did prior to the consensus, which by the way is what good journalists are supposed to do. They’re supposed to break news and not wait for there to be some consensus in which they’re allowed to issue a press release—that’s very scary.

And then what is also scary is I’m seeing respected news outlets, when someone does break news like yours or asked good questions, or even ask questions, they’ll say that’s a conspiracy theory or that’s a Trump supporter or that’s right-wing nonsense. And they don’t engage with the question.

For instance, I have on my phone 10 citations of gain-of-function research from Ralph Baric’s lab. It’s public. It’s MIT technology review, vanity fair, you know, his own CV, etc. And yet when Rand Paul said you’ve done gain-of-function research, Dr. Fauci said, “No, I haven’t.”

I watched CNN, MSNBC, all these mainstream slash left news outlets, interview him and say: wow, that Rand Paul was really out there. But they didn’t say: we looked at your record of funding on your website. Or we looked at Ralph Baric’s research, which is published. Or we looked at EcoHealth Alliance has research, which is published, or the WuHan lab’s research is published. It’s in Nature.

No one anymore looked and said, “Here’s this peer reviewed published article.” Here is what happened to make it more infectious, make this pathogen more infectious. Why is that not gain-of-function? Or why is that gain-of-function? Or why is it not in your view? That’s journalism, and I don’t see that happening anymore.

This consensus is working to silence debate, and it’s working to protect the powerful. And what’s very disturbing to me is very quickly in American society, the powerful are turning out to be three or four big entities.

Mr. Jekielek: Three or four big entities. But you’re kinda saying they’re working together.

Mrs. Wolf: No. This is one of those moments where if I hadn’t been a political consultant to a president’s campaign and to a vice president, I wouldn’t say things that lead critics to say: she’s a conspiracy theorist. But when you’ve been in those rooms, they’re the rooms where the highest level of decision making happens, a lot of interests can align, and there won’t be a press release.

In fact, the goal is to not have fingerprints and not have a press release. That’s what the lawyers are for. And there can be, the highest level of politics is entities working together and sometimes at cross purposes. That’s why we have the policies that we have.

So when you see Mark Zuckerberg emailing the highest medical official in the United States government, and it’s a private email rather than in some public disclosable transparent setting, you shouldn’t need a foyer to know that communication had happened.

That communication belongs to the American people. And by law, it’s supposed to be disclosed, but those were private emails, not shared with the American people in which a gigantic company with influence over all of our lives and through which the media now flows, Facebook, is aligning with the guy who distributes all this scientific research money in the United States. That’s a corrupt situation in my view, and it’s corrupt on many levels.

What is important about that communication is that in the wake of the pandemic and the way pandemic policies have unfolded, Big Tech is up double digit billions in revenue. China is up about 32 percent, as I understand, in revenue. Pharma, of course, the CEO of one of the vaccine companies just became a billionaire. I read their white paper on their website for investors.

They’re projecting COVID through 2023. And I would ask, how do they know? But that’s what they’re offering their investors. And Pharma has a gigantic payday.

Digital education, which we never used to need: hundreds of millions of dollars, distance learning. So there are some real winners out of the way these policies played out. And that takes some, I wouldn’t say coordination in a creepy way, but at that level, all it takes is a pretty casual conversation. It takes an email or a phone call.

And the policies that played out turned out not to be based on science. States that locked down didn’t do better than states that were open. The jury’s out on masks. There’s as many peer-reviewed studies that say they’re useless as that they’re useful. The data in that children are being harmed through their socialization language skills with masks. That’s still looming in the fall.

So many policies that serve to enrich Big Tech, to drive us all onto our platforms instead of human interaction, like this space, which is better for Big Tech. If we’re doing everything through their platforms, it’s more profitable, fantastic for Pfizer and Moderna.

If there’s alignment with our government, that’s not unusual. The Republicans have their own fossil fuels and Raytheon. Each side has their giant funders, but what’s happened is that the pandemic allowed these interests to align so much that they’re really dictating policy, excluding us and our well being.

Mr. Jekielek: What you’re seeing is there’s this kind of push to get people into the digital world as much as possible.

Mrs. Wolf: Absolutely, and I can tell you exactly why. Distance learning. I’m not minimizing COVID, but the data is in. Children are not at great risk from coronavirus. And yet they’ve lost a year of schooling and were harmed in extraordinary ways. Pediatricians are talking about spikes in child suicidality, which is a phrase I’d never heard before.

I’m CEO of a tech company. It’s not a gigantic Facebook-type tech company, but my business model is the same as Facebook or YouTube or any of these tech companies, which is there two ways to make money in technology. If you’re a platform is there are eyeballs and there is advertising.

When human beings gather in a space like this, it’s a lost opportunity from a digital platforms perspective, unless there are streaming licensing rights, because we’re all communicating, we’re generating content, by just hanging out with each other.

When children are in a school room, when people worship in a church or a synagogue or a mosque, when people gather in a protest, when they gather to hear a symphony or to go to a Broadway, play, all these things human beings do that are the essence of human culture and human acculturation, when they pass each other in the street and smile and fall in love, those are lost opportunities from a CEO of a tech company’s point of view.

You want to create a digital alternative that’s more attractive than human interaction. Humans are your competition. Before the pandemic, no one could drive people out of churches and synagogues onto digital streaming services.

Before the pandemic, no one could drive children out of a classroom and all the things they get like socialization, friendships, learning how to put on their coat or tie their shoes, onto being alone in a room staring at a little screen. There was no way we would have tolerated that.

But every minute people are online, your child’s is online, or you’re online on a Zoom call, that’s minting money for whoever has that platform. And they’re also gathering your data of course. They’re gathering what else you look at. While you take a break, they’re there. They’re finding out all about you. And they can’t do that when you’re just worshiping with loved ones in a church or synagogue.

So this was a fantastic opportunity to kill off human community. I’m sure they didn’t think of it that way, but when a pandemic hit, they have an obligation to their shareholders. Let’s create policies that digitize everything and call that reinventing education, reinventing cities, reinventing work. There are other places we can talk about, like real estate. But that one was a huge driver.

Let’s make it so uncomfortable. Wearing a mask is not a small thing. I have medical conditions hard for me to wear a mask. And it’s so uncomfortable that you can’t wait to go inside and get on your device and get on Zoom, because you can breathe.

These mask mandates—the longer you force people to be uncomfortable, struggling to breathe, not able to read each other’s expressions, the more ready they’re gonna be to run inside and see their friends online, where they can laugh with each other. It is kind of a war on humanity.

Mr. Jekielek: Fascinating. And frankly, disturbing and something I need to think a bit more about.

Mrs. Wolf: I don’t blame you it’s it is very disturbing.

Mr. Jekielek: As we finish up, I want to talk a little bit about, we had talked offline a little bit, about this idea that Peter Boghossian floated in an interview we did a while ago, which is just this idea that the left-right spectrum is no longer indicative. A more interesting spectrum is one of cognitive liberty on one side, and actually, I still don’t know exactly what’s on the other side, but it is probably nothing good…

There’s a whole new grouping of people that are emerging that isn’t along traditional conservative-liberal or left-right lines. It’s something along the lines of whether you believe that someone else should be able to believe whatever they want to. And likewise, in the other direction.

Mrs. Wolf: I do see a realignment taking place. And honestly, it’s a race against time. The realignment has to happen faster. There won’t be an America to save, essentially, the way it was when we were growing up or a Canada saved the way it was when you were growing up.

What I see is that left and right are increasingly meaningless terms under this crisis. When I say the crisis, the pandemic was a crisis. The reaction to the pandemic is the crisis to which I’m referring now, the establishment of kind of tyranny in the west and all over the world in places that had not been under tyranny.

I see people realizing that even if we disagree on issues like abortion rights or green energy or gun ownership, that there’s a much bigger fight we have to unite for. I’m talking about at the grassroots level. What unites us is that we care about liberty and human rights and the individual and the legacy of the west, which is a beautiful legacy.

You don’t have to be a westerner to care about the enlightenment and to want democracy. Those are global aspirations, but we’re in danger of losing that. Above us, I see a set of alliances that again, transcend left and right. Although sadly, right now it is the Biden administration aligned with Big Tech doing a lot of the damage.

They are interested in establishing policies that do strip us of freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, property rights, our right to our bodies, bodily autonomy, and these policies violate the constitution. Of course, they’re illegal. The vaccine discrimination in this hotel that I’m staying at is completely illegal. And there are many lawsuits pushing back against that kind of discrimination.

But what I’m seeing is that those of us here are joining forces more and more. And this is a great example. We’re here at Freedom Fest in South Dakota and realizing we can save the fight about the less important things for another day. Urgently, we need to save our Republic.

Mr. Jekielek: I just want to push back a little bit on this tyranny of the west. I look in communist China, look at North Korea, look at a few other places in the world. I see tyranny. What we have here, you can’t quite call it tyranny, or what do you mean when you say that? I guess that’s what I’m asking.

Mrs. Wolf: I will push back in turn because I wrote a book called “The End of America” that predicted a lot of where we are now. I didn’t predict how it would unfold, but I predicted that if we don’t pull back, we would be in a very authoritarian America in the near future.

Tyranny and freedom are not black and white. They’re not a dichotomy. Any one who studies history, I’m sure you’d agree, knows that there are shades and shades and shades. And that often there’s kind of an essential authoritarian state, but it has cosmetic overlays of a judiciary or a press or certain gestural freedoms.

Obviously we’re not North Korea and we’re not China, but we’re also not the United States of the pre-pandemic. We’re closer to North Korea and China than we were in 2019, maybe a step or two closer, but we’re further from the American ideal than we were. And it’s in some very dramatic ways that I would not belittle, and I would caution you not to belittle, because a student of history also knows that.

You know very well from knowing about Germany, it took six months in 1933 to go from being a fragile democracy in Germany until they completely locked down civil society, and that was through an elected process. It doesn’t take long. Crackdowns don’t take long when the underlying structures have been dismantled and that’s what’s happened now.

In 47 states, we’re still under emergency law in the United States of America. That is a very big deal. I live in New York state. The pandemic ended in my county. I mean, numerically. But Governor Cuomo announced that he’s extending the state of emergency because of gun violence. We are never going like it.

I don’t see the end to emergency law in New York State. History shows autocrats never give up power unless they’re forced to. I have a campaign on our website called The Five Freedoms Campaign to bring back freedom of assembly, open schools now, no mask mandates, no vaccine passports, and to end emergency law. It has been very successful.

But I’ve been to four states where the state houses are closed. Citizens can’t watch their legislators and the legislation, if it happens at all, is on Zoom, which is not a secure platform or in a civic center like this, which is private. The people can’t see their laws being passed anymore. That’s a huge change in the United States of America.

Legislatures in America are in many states, built with a gallery so that citizens can just walk in and watch their elected officials who work for them debating and discussing the laws that will govern them. That’s that’s rule of the people by the people for the people.

That’s gone in America, and it’s gonna be a fight to get it back. Michigan just rolled back emergency law, but that was a fight. I went to Michigan. I met those state legislators. State legislators in state after state are battling to end emergency law and to do very basic things like make sure that people’s property rights aren’t suspended again.

A hundred thousand restaurants closed in the lockdown. How do we know it won’t happen again, going into the fall? I believe Mitch McConnell mentioned that there might be lockdown in the fall with emergency law or an authoritarian regime. It can happen at any time. And then we can be like Canada, which is much worse off than we are. Like Britain. People are rioting in France because of the severity of the lockdowns and the vaccine passports.

I would not minimize what we’re facing here in the United States. It’s terrifying to me to that in my lifetime, 47 states in America are under emergency law and the state houses are closed.

Mr. Jekielek: Well, Naomi, any final, quick thoughts as we finish up?

Mrs. Wolf: Sure. I don’t mean to depress you. On a happier note, history also shows that when people gathered together and insisted on their rights courageously, which is what’s called for now, no power on earth can stop them. So I hope we will all join together and save not only our country, but all the countries that are under threat.

Mr. Jekielek: Naomi Wolf, it’s such a pleasure to have you on.

Mrs. Wolf: Thank you so much. Thanks for having me.

Mr. Jekielek: Our team reached out to Twitter to ask about Naomi Wolf’s account suspension, but we did not immediately receive a response.

This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.

(Watch the interview video )


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