Remarks: Kimberley Strassel
Editor’s note: The following is a transcript of Kimberley Strassel’s remarks upon receiving the Barbara K. Olson Woman of Valor Award, delivered at the 2022 Annual Awards Gala.
Heather Higgins: This has been a tremendous evening. It’s not over yet. More still to come, but we are now at the award that sort of started it all. Since 2004, the Barbara K. Olson Woman of Valor Award has been bestowed upon some of the most influential female leaders in the country. It recognizes extraordinary women who have demonstrated a firm commitment to fearlessly standing for what is right, women whose work has helped make significant improvements in the lives of women and those that they love. The 17 past honorees include, most recently, Janice Dean of Fox News, Maria Bartiromo, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, Ambassador Nikki Haley, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, among many other outstanding women who are listed in your dinner program. As someone who was required, starting at the age of 12, to read The Wall Street Journal editorial page every single day, and someone who eventually became Bob Bartley’s first intern, there were two of us, Gordon Crovitz and I were his first year attempting to have interns, it is particularly pleasing to me and we are so proud to honor The Wall Street Journal’s intrepid and entertaining Kim Strassel as our Woman of Valor.
Kim’s Potomac Watch column, which appears every Friday, and which somehow manages to be – I’m going to get in trouble for saying this, but even better than when Paul was writing it – is simply – and I think actually Paul would agree with me, in fact, I know he does because we talked about it – is simply a must-read column. Kim tackles the hardest issues, calls out political corruption, and increasingly media corruption, and lays out stakes for the American people. Why is Kim so effective? Well, as somebody who knew Bob Bartley in the early days of The Wall Street Journal, I think that some of the characteristics that he embodied that made it so different from other papers and so worth reading was a certain midwestern ethos. He had a clear-eyed appreciation for, and affection for, the ordinary American, never condescending. He was fearless in his skewering of pomposity and hypocrisy, and you always read that paper and its thoughtful analysis and felt that you were learning something. Kim, more than anyone else at The Wall Street Journal, embodies that Bartley ethos. Her most recent book, Resistance (At All Costs): How Trump Haters Are Breaking America, was published in 2019 and was just another example of how she consistently calls balls and strikes against Republicans and Democrats alike. When making one of her frequent TV appearances, Kim is principled and devastating and must-watch TV because she’s also always funny and fair. I’m grateful to be able to call Kim a friend as well as an ally. Kim, please join me on stage to accept the Barbara K. Olson Award for the Woman of Valor.
Kimberley Strassel: Wow. It is truly such an honor to be up here and to be bestowed such an award, although I have to tell you a funny story: when IWF let me know that they were going to do this, I was so chuffed that I went out and told my children. We were having dinner, and my youngest child said, “What’s a Woman of Valor Award?” And her older sibling helpfully supplied, and I quote, “It’s kind of like being Wonder Woman, but in mom’s case without the bracelets, or the lasso, or the shield, or the body, or the outfit, or the superpowers, or pretty much anything that made Wonder Woman cool.” So, my youngest child said, “So, being a woman of valor is kind of like being an uncool Wonder Woman?” And that’s what I was left with. So, yeah, you gotta love children. They keep you centered, right? No, but it really is such an honor, and it’s an even greater honor to call Heather and so many of you in this room, friends, allies, partners in this very vital mission. And that is even more important right now because if you look around, just on the face of it, it would be so easy to be demoralized.
We just today got another indication inflation is going up. People are struggling to be able to find groceries, to be able to buy gas. They are watching their retirements and their kids’ 529s go down the toilet. The economy is in serious trouble, millions are pouring unchecked over our border at the moment, violent crime is spiraling, we are watching an epidemic of drug and overdoses. You can’t swing a cat anymore anywhere in the whole country, and that’s one of the most remarkable things, without hitting a woke mob at our universities, and our media, in our expert class, in our corporations, even in our elementary schools. Public faith in our institutions, whether it be the FBI, Congress, our doctors, the media is at an all-time low, and understandably so, by the way. Overseas, we see instability in the absence of U.S. power, authoritarians on the rise. We are currently watching the largest conventional land war in Europe since World War II. And yet I remain entirely optimistic. And that is because I believe in the American people. And those American people are waking up and they are saying no. Everywhere you look, they are saying no. We are seeing parents who are challenging school boards over gender and race indoctrination and walking with their feet and demanding choice. We’re seeing Americans of every stripe refusing to submit to political intimidation, or to corporations peddling their ideology, or to the defund the police agenda, or to green propaganda. We have a new generation of leaders who are rejecting cancel culture, standing up for freedom over wokeness. Folks, Vivek Ramaswamy, where is he? He’s gone. Tulsi Gabbard. Riley, the younger generation, and we have groups like the Independent Women’s Forum, which every day stands up for women and for common sense. The Left wants to stereotype every single woman who is in this room. Well, unless it actually comes to the question of gender, in which case you’re allowed to be whatever you want. But in anything else, they want to stereotype you. IWF defies that stereotyping at every turn, and in doing so, it every day shows that you absolutely can be strong, a strong advocate for women, even as you remain what the Left is not, which is respectful and inclusive. We need to be inclusive.
I’m old enough to remember the day when it was the Left that claimed to believe in women’s independence, their equality of opportunity, and by the way, not equity, equality of opportunity, in advocating for issues that were specific to women. Where is the National Organization of Women now, as the Left seeks to shut down any woman who does not conform with that ideology? Where’s the National Women’s Sports Foundation as the Left seeks to force our young women and our young girls to turn over their lockers to biological men? They have abandoned women. But in that there is also hope. There is also optimism. Because in doing so, they have provided all of us an enormous opportunity. For those of us who believe in freedom, it is a chance for us to bring so many more of those people over to our cause. So, the actual definition of valor, and I looked it up, I felt the great need to let the youngest child know that it was something more important than just being an uncool Wonder Woman, it’s a person whose strength of mind or spirit enables them to encounter danger or threats with great resolve. That is the definition of the Independent Women’s Forum, and that is the definition of everyone who is sitting in this room, and I applaud you all. I, myself, I simply consider myself a woman of great fortune, a woman who has been fortunate enough to be guided by and supported by and surrounded by women like all of those here who come from every background and every age group, every geography, who are united in their belief in America’s founding principles and its commitment to economic liberty and to limited government, and who are, minute by minute, ready to do battle in the arena of ideas, Wonder Woman powers or not. That, meaning all of you, is what is behind my optimism. I thank you again. It’s an enormous honor. I congratulate IWF on its 30th anniversary, and I can’t wait to see all of you in these endeavors ahead. Thank you so much.