Discover more from The Freedom Academy with Asha Rangappa
Happy Birthday to The Freedom Academy!
It's been a great year, thanks to you.
When my finger hovered over the “publish” button a year ago to send my first post about The Freedom Academy into the world, my heart was beating furiously. I was so nervous. What if people thought the name was dumb? What if no one subscribed? What if I had a typo? Although I had written for many publications in the past, this was the first time it was only me — no editors, no copywriters, no one to pitch ideas for me to write about.
Since then, this Substack has evolved so much and has become something that feels truly authentic to me and what I care about. Over the last year I have published 45 posts, many of which are unique pieces that just wouldn’t have found a home anywhere else because they didn’t fit the mold of what the traditional news cycle cares about. Some of my favorite pieces over the last year include:
My analysis of the Netflix docuseries about the British royal family in my post about What Harry and and Megan Can Teach Us About Information Warfare
My deep dive (and I mean DEEP dive into a rabbit hole I almost didn’t escape from) into what, exactly, the Hunter Biden’s Laptop “scandal” is about, in Framing Hunter Biden — my top performing post!
My examination of the parallels between the movement to remove history curricula across the country with a similar effort following the Civil War, in Erasing Memory
And, of course, as Trump’s legal woes mounted, I added a new section to this Substack, “Indictment Watch,” with weekly roundups on latest hot topics, links to my podcast It’s Complicated, my latest articles and news clips, and occasional video commentary.
Along the way, many of you became paid subscribers, which enrolled you in my course, “Democracy in the (Dis)Information Age,” where we covered why the U.S. is so bad at information warfare, a history of active measures, and how disinformation distorts our electoral process. Although I focused on the OG of disinformation, Russia, there were a lot of parallels with and thru lines to domestic actors — and we are starting to see many of these same themes and tactics resurface as we head into 2024. (For real, I wrote about Jill Stein in my last class post, thinking it was a closed chapter, only to see her announce that she was running on the
Putin Green Party ticket AGAIN the very next day.) Some of the posts that generated the most discussion were:
How Russia uses reflexive control, a tactic that Trump mirrors
Our guest speaker, Professor Jennifer Mercieca, who explained Trump’s dark arts of communication
My quick primer on election interference, a.k.a. Election Meddling 101
Looking ahead, I am so excited to expand on what we have built together so far. There will, of course, be much more to come on the Trump and election front — stay tuned for an upcoming piece on Trump’s personal style of “hybrid warfare.” And for those of you enrolled in the course, we will be changing gears after the New Year and looking at how, exactly, we (yes, all of us!) have been complicit in making our society ripe for demagogues and would-be authoritarians, the role of social media in exacerbating those vulnerabilities, and what we can do about it. Folks, we are at Defcon 1!
Thank you again for joining me on this journey, for reading The Freedom Academy, and for your support, thoughtful comments, and shared commitment to democracy. I can’t wait to continue it with you.
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