U.S. Army veteran and political activist Rob Smith joined the Society of Skeptics on March 9 to discuss the use of voice in the fight for freedom. The event, moderated by history department chair and Skeptics coordinator Jason Beck, began at 7 p.m. To watch the presentation, please click below:
Mr. Smith served for five years in the U.S. Army, including two tours in the Middle East. During Operation Iraqi Freedom, he was awarded the Army Commendation Medal and the Combat Infantry Badge. An activist in the movement to repeal the “don’t ask, don’t tell” law, which barred open service by lesbian, gay and bisexual soldiers, he was the subject of a 2018 Daily Mail profile in which he came out as a conservative.
Based in Florida, Mr. Smith is a contributor for the nonprofit Turning Point USA (TPUSA), and he promotes TPUSA’s values of fiscal responsibility, free markets and limited government. As a political commentator, he has appeared on Fox News, NBC News, CNN, HLN and more. He has spoken about politics and current events at Yale University, Google, Deutsche Bank, Vanderbilt University, and dozens of other colleges, universities and companies across the country. He is also the author of the 2020 book Always a Soldier: Service, Sacrifice, and Coming Out as America's Favorite Black, Gay Republican. Mr. Smith holds a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University.
Mr. Smith’s talk centered on the new conservative movement and expansion of the Republican party. He believes that regardless of one’s background, all Americans deserve to have their voices heard. “For the movement to survive and evolve, we need to attract different groups,” he said. “We need to let people of different ages, races and backgrounds know that conservatism is for everyone.”
He hoped the audience took away a better understanding of what it means to be conservative in 2021, and that although forging your own path can be difficult at times, it's always worth it in the end.
History of Skeptics
The Society of Skeptics was established as a forum for students and faculty to discuss and debate important global issues; it has grown to become one of the premier high school lecture series in the United States. Each week, speakers from the political, social, scientific, economic and literary arenas share their unique perspectives with students, who are encouraged to engage with presenters, asking questions and debating points of view.
The program, which is funded in part by The Class of 1968 Society of Skeptics Endowment Fund, was an outgrowth of the Blair International Society, begun in 1937. Forty years later, former history department chair Elliott Trommald, PhD, Hon. ’65, established the modern Skeptics program as a regular forum for student discussion and debate; history teacher Martin Miller, PhD, took over in the mid-1980s and molded the program into a weekly lecture series, one that has since continued without interruption. Under the tutelage of Dr. Miller and his successor, history department chair Jason Beck, Skeptics has featured a wide variety of speakers who are engaging, accomplished in their respective fields and often controversial. For a listing of upcoming Skeptics programs, please click here.