Ethan Yang, a law student at George Mason University and a Local Coordinator for Students For Liberty (SFL), is a source of inspiration for his peers. Despite his young age, Ethan has written a book, worked at Google, and exposed the Biden administration’s influence on social media companies.
Ethan’s skepticism about big government and sensitivity to freedom issues were profoundly influenced by the horrifying stories of his parents, both of whom fled from different dictatorships, with his mother escaping the clutches of Cambodian communism and his seeking refuge from Taiwanese fascism.
As Ethan matured, he developed a strong commitment to defending liberty. With a keen eye for detail, he observed something intriguing. When the Great Barrington Declaration, a document crafted by prominent scientists from Harvard, Oxford, and Stanford, surfaced, proposing that COVID-19 lockdown policies were ineffective, it didn’t spark the engaging debate and thoughtful discussion one might expect. Instead, there was an unexpected and seemingly coordinated media backlash against the idea.
Dr. Fauci and others in the U.S. government, including the CDC and the National Institute for Infectious Diseases, weren’t just indifferent to these viewpoints; they actively engaged in slandering and attacking the scientists. Ethan reflects on this, saying,
“My colleagues and I found it peculiar. While we may not be scientists ourselves, the individuals we collaborate with are reputable, even award-winning, scientists from esteemed institutions. Why the reluctance to engage in a conversation? Why the administration’s steadfast support for lockdowns? And why is the media echoing these lines, appearing almost like an extension of the administration, endorsing partisan attacks? So, I, together with economic historian Phil Magness, took action and decided to file a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.”
The FOIA request enabled Ethan to access communications of public officials, including Dr. Fauci, Dr. Collins, and others at the CDC and other U.S. public health agencies. They aimed to investigate if the White House collaborated with private media companies to censor discussions on COVID-19 lockdowns, specifically targeting emails containing the term “Great Barrington Declaration.” The revelations from these emails were astonishing.
Immediately after the release of the Great Barrington Declaration, Dr. Collins expressed his disapproval to Dr. Fauci, inquiring about a potential response campaign. Dr. Collins then shared links to op-eds from mainstream media, not reputable medical journals, initiating a cascade of similar requests from other groups. These groups observed a coordinated effort to avoid engaging in a scientific debate with renowned scientists.
The subsequent FOIA requests, initiated by various groups, including law firms, unveiled a pattern that extended beyond the CDC to involve the White House, the State Department, the FBI, and the entire federal government, specifically the Biden administration. These agencies were not only meeting personally with representatives from Facebook, Google, and YouTube but were actively instructing them to de-platform certain individuals, control speech through hashtags, and manipulate content visibility. This orchestration ultimately led to the Missouri v. Biden lawsuit.
Independence Day 2023 witnessed a momentous victory for civil liberties as Federal Judge Terry A. Doughty issued a crucial preliminary injunction against the Biden administration. This injunction specifically prohibited them from engaging in meetings and communications with social media companies. Ethan’s steadfast dedication played a pivotal role in restraining the unwarranted influence wielded by prominent Biden administration officials, who had sought to pressure social media platforms into suppressing dissenting views on COVID-19 policies.
While that was indeed a monumental victory, Ethan’s determination to advance the cause of liberty remains unwavering. Just last year, Ethan hosted a remarkable 19 podcasts for the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER), where he serves as an Adjunct Fellow, and contributed to two episodes of the new SFL Banter Podcast. Additionally, he conducted eight interviews on NTD, amassing a total of over 100k views on YouTube and reaching an audience of tens of thousands on television.
Besides that, Ethan recently became a Google Public Policy Fellow and Law Clerk, attained full membership in the Journal of Law, Economics & Policy, and took on an internship role with a D.C. consultancy focused on the evolving political-economic trends in the Indo-Pacific Region.
Reflecting on his career path, Ethan expresses his gratitude to SFL for providing him with the essential tools and resources to achieve success. He emphasizes, “The most crucial aspect has been the leadership opportunities that allowed me to build a portfolio of experiences, enabling me to accomplish all that I have today. Whether it’s acquiring the necessary experience for my first job, which in turn led to the next one, creating a continuous chain of opportunities, or being put in leadership roles that really challenged me and pushed the limits of what I thought I was capable of.”
Over his five transformative years with SFL, Ethan took on diverse roles, starting as a Local Coordinator and eventually becoming the House Coordinator for Bastiat (Politics, Policy & Law). Under his leadership, a major gathering in Washington, D.C., united over 40 young interns and employees from pro-liberty organizations. This event now serves as a regular monthly meeting point, facilitating collaboration and synergy among allies under 30.
This year, Ethan co-authored a book with Ryan Yonk on U.S.-China relations, adopting a unique approach that focuses on understanding the institutions and individuals leading China rather than relying on traditional international relations analysis. The book delves into a wide range of topics, covering human rights, internal politics, economic policy, and antitrust enforcement, offering a comprehensive perspective on Chinese priorities.
Expressing gratitude in a LinkedIn post featuring his book, Ethan says, “I cannot thank Students For Liberty enough for providing me with an inspiring global network of scholars and activists who pushed me to never wait until I am “old enough” to apply my talents to solving the world’s problems.”
In the future, Ethan aspires to pursue a policy career in antitrust law with the goal of working at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), recognized as the world’s premier antitrust enforcer. Simultaneously, he remains committed to the realm of liberty, striving to contribute to making the world a freer place.
Written by Anastasiia Rusanova