Beginning with the very first article whose subject matter was Arizona Senator and former American POW John McCain, each of the entries has highlighted a hero from the American military. These were people who put their lives on the line, and in many instances laid down those lives, for their country. And except for McCain, every one of them was virtually anonymous outside of their own closest inner circle of family and friends.
But it is not just within the military that we can find individuals whose significant contributions have gone mostly unnoticed, and this article is going to begin the process of incorporating some of those civilian stories into the series as well. The story of Brandon Darby, a former radical leftist activist who openly called for the overthrow of the U.S. government turned Real American Hero, is a fitting one with which to begin.
Darby is a good ol' Texas boy who grew up to harbor and cultivate anti-government and anti-establishment feelings. He became an outspoken critic of fellow Texan George W. Bush during his presidency, in particular following Hurrican Katrina. It was in the relief response to the Katrina disaster in Louisiana that Darby began to come to some prominence.
As Matthew Vadum tells the story in Town Hall magazine, Darby used $50 of his own money to co-found the group 'Common Ground', a supposed relief agency that was in actuality a far-Left political activist organization that included a number of former Black Panther members. It was during and thanks to his experiences with this group that Darby's social and political viewpoint began to change and mature.
During the process of trying to restore some semblance of order and peace and rebuilding of lives in New Orleans, Darby met and began a relationship with an NOPD commander named Major John Bryson. At first completely distrustful of and at odds with one another, Darby and Bryson began to see as they worked both together and separately for the rebirth of the Crescent City that not only were each not the other's enemies, but they were indeed on the same side.
Then in 2006, Darby undertook a trip to Venezuela as part of a group seeking funding from the Marxist government of Hugo Chavez to keep Common Ground in operation. Chavez had been subverting American influence in the region by funneling discounted fuel oil through Congressman Joseph Kennedy of Massachuessettes, whose TV commercials painted Chavez as a friend to America's poor while portraying President Bush as disinterested at best.
When Darby arrived and began to meet with the Venezuelans it became obvious that helping New Orleans and Americans was the last thing on their minds. What they really wanted was to set up a terrorist network of guerrillas that would operate out of the swamps of Louisiana and begin work towards undermining the American government further.
As Vadum also reports, Darby was further alienated from his original Leftist beliefs when a long time friend from Texas, Riad Hamad, tried to hijack a new relief group that Darby was trying to start called 'Critical Response', which would have sent medics into Middle East and African war zones to help civilians who were caught there in cross-fire exchanges.
When Hamad began to suggest that the medics could be sent to Israel and put on motorcycles or in ambulances that could be fitted with bombs to kill Jews, Darby decided that law enforcement needed to be informed and approached the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force. This was a radical departure for the Lefty radical who previous to his relationship with Major Bryson in New Orleans would never have trusted law enforcement.
Darby was having the epiphany that many intelligent former Leftist and liberals have when they begin to wake up and realize that the world is not some utopian social experiment, but a real place where real people have to live out real lives, and where the worst power ever wielded has come from Marxist, Socialist and Communist governments. Darby began coming to an appreciation for the brilliance of the American system.
Without letting on to any of his many friends among the Leftist community, Darby began to work with the FBI as an informant in matters relating to these threats from Radical Islam and other segments of the violent underground community. It was here that Darby took the actions that completed his transformation from radical to right, from revolutionary to American hero.
At the request of the FBI, Darby infiltrated the Austin (Texas) Affinity Group, which had become allied with other radical organizations to form what had become known as the "RNC Welcoming Committee", a group that planned not to welcome but to completely disrput the Republican National Convention in Minnesota in 2008.
During his infiltration of the group, Darby met with and eventually informed on two individuals, David McKay and Bradley Crowder. These two had manufactured homemade riot shields for use in St. Paul to help radicals block the streets and keep GOP delegates from attending the convention. Their group also gathered gas masks, slingshots, helmets, knee pads, and even manufactured Molotov cocktails. Thanks to the cooperation of Darby, their plots to injure and possibly kill people at the convention were thwarted.
Darby could have continued to follow his original far-left impulses. He could have taken the Chavez regime money and fully funded his own organization and went along with plans to undermine America. He could have fully established his medic network in the Middle East and aided plans for attacks on Israel. He could have justified in his own head that somehow he was using the terrorist and Marxist groups himself to help needy people. Instead, Darby saw what was right. He saw that violence and power and hatred were what these organizations were truly about, not any kind of change in order to help real people. And as he truly compared these foreign groups and governments to his home, he awoke to the beauty of America.
Brandon Darby woke up in time to help save American lives and help keep the American system of peaceful political selection moving forward. As he said to Vadum: "I started to realize how brilliant and miraculous the American system of checks and balances was...that has been working since this nation was founded. I realized just how hard a task that is." He went on to state: "I'm proud of helping people, but I'm ashamed of what I used to believe. Thankfully, I had the honor of serving my country by working undercover with the FBI and participating in efforts to protect the safety and civil rights of others."
Clearly, Brandon Darby now gets it, finally. Having travelled the road of anti-establisment liberal to right-thinking American traditionalist myself, I can fully appreciate much of the journey that Darby has taken. You could have never told me that I would grow to become an American law enforcement officer, just as I'm sure you could not have told Darby that he would ever become an FBI informant. But in his willingness to do the right thing, and in his awakening to a full appreciation of the greatness of his nation, Brandon Darby certainly qualifies as a civilian Real American Hero.