In a long life of 91 years, R.C. Hoiles saw it all. From the “rugged individualism” that still marked America at the time of his birth on Nov. 24, 1878, to the rise of socialist and communist ideas and policies in the 1920s and 1930s – especially in Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia – to the “planned” economies of the 1940s to the 1960s, through the beginnings of the resurgence of free-market economics just before his death in 1970.
So we mark the 128th anniversary of the birth of Hoiles, the founder of Freedom Communications Inc., this newspaper’s parent company. Freedom publishes 30 daily and 40 weekly newspapers and broadcasts from eight TV stations, nationwide. It also has an expanding Internet presence.
What set Hoiles apart from most newspaper owners was his deep and abiding interest in advancing human freedom, even during some of its darkest hours. His faith never flagged that humans, left free, could reach remarkable levels of achievement.
“I have faith that in free enterprise the gain or profit of one is the gain of all,” he wrote in a personal credo published on Nov. 24, 1953, “A Few of the Things I Have Faith In.” “I have faith that competition will create both material and spiritual development. … I have faith in work. … I have faith that it is more blessed to give than to receive.”
Hoiles is still remembered as a nice older gentleman who loved to discuss the philosophy of liberty – such as his belief that “the government schools,” as he called them, should be made private, or government should be run through voluntary contributions rather than taxes forcibly taken from citizens. He always had a pamphlet or two to press into a person’s hands.
Perhaps his finest hour came during World War II, when he defended the 110,000 Japanese-Americans who had been taken from their homes – even though there was no evidence to show they were anything other than loyal Americans – and sent to relocation camps in America’s interior. Freedom newspapers were among the very few that defended the Japanese-Americans’ constitutional rights.
“Few, if any, people ever believed that evacuation of the Japanese was constitutional,” he wrote in an editorial published Oct. 14, 1942. “It was a result of emotion and fright rather than being in harmony with the Constitution and the inherent rights that belong to all citizens.”
Of course, today the injustice done to the Japanese-Americans is recognized everywhere, and in 1988 the federal government made reparations. But at the time, Hoiles’ was one of the few, lonely voices defending the defenseless.
Hoiles’ descendants still control Freedom Communications and remain dedicated to the “freedom philosophy,” as it’s called around the company.
Hoiles’ legacy endures through the journalism of Freedom newspapers, TV stations and Web sites.