9/11 at Seventeen
In the 17 years since 9/11, an entire generation of Americans has grown up without stories of where they were that day. These are the kids who experienced the tragedy through history books — pictures of the Statue of Liberty wreathed in smoke and stories of heroes racing into collapsing buildings to save people they’d never met. Online, they might have seen clips of the giant flag unfurling over the Pentagon, or the video of a president standing on a pile of rubble, vowing to make the terrorists pay.
These are the children who never knew the White House without barricades or got off an airplane into the outstretched arms of family waiting right at the gate. What they do know is life in a country that feels safe. The millions of us who watched planes erupt like fireballs in the twin towers wondered if that day would ever come again. Almost two decades into the new world that 9/11 built, we go about our days with so much certainty — even more so now, under an administration that rebuilt the military, drove back ISIS, and broadcast America’s resolve. Since President Trump, we haven’t seen the San Bernardinos, the Chattanoogas, homegrown attacks on U.S. soil.
Part of that, the Heritage Foundation explains, is because the U.S. dramatically changed the way it approached terrorism. “This system will not stop all terrorism,” David Inserra pointed out, “no system is or ever will be perfect — but it has stopped 87 out of 104 Islamist terror plots and made it much harder for terrorists to carry out large, complex attacks.” And the U.S. isn’t the only one making a more concerted effort to stop extremists. In 2017, the University of Maryland found, “global terror attacks and fatalities decreased [as much as] 24 percent.”
Under Trump, Americans are more reassured than ever. In a new Rasmussen poll, voters are “more confident than they have been in years that the country is safer today than it was before those attacks.” The survey found that 47 percent of likely voters think the U.S. is safer today than it was before the 9/11 terrorist attacks" — a 16-percent jump from last year, and “the highest level of confidence in the nation’s safety in six years.”
Of course, there is a danger in becoming complacent. We still have a porous border — and despite our best intentions, radicals are quietly making their way onto American soil. “Children are being used by some of the worst criminals on earth as a means to enter our country,” the president warned over the summer. “Has anyone been looking at the crime taking place south of the border? It is historic, with some countries the most dangerous places in the world.” Refugees streamed into America under Barack Obama, many without the simplest of background checks. Evil men still chant death to our country. The threats are as real as ever.
In an election year, when all eyes are on the future, it’s easy to overlook the past. But 9/11 is another reminder of how much is at stake this November. Our military families know it. The survivors of that horrible day know it. And the enemies of this nation know it. “The faith of our nation may have been tested in the avenues of New York City, on the shores of the Potomac, and in a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania,” the president said, “but our strength never faltered, and our resilience never wavered.” Seventeen years later, there’s no better way to honor the thousands of men and women who lost their lives for being American than protecting the principles that make our country great.
Originally published here.
Students School Leaders in Religious Liberty
The tide is turning, but the waves of opposition to religious freedom and the freedom of expression are still lapping up onto the public square. It’s a reminder that without vigilance and support from groups dedicated to protecting these First-Amendment rights, they will eventually be overcome by the aggressive, unrelenting attacks of those who despise America’s Christian heritage. The area most prone to the inundation of these attacks is our public schools, colleges, and universities.
Students for Life at Ball State University, for instance, were recently denied funding for an activity meant to provide educational resources to other students who were pregnant or parenting, solely because of what the organization stood for. The university, through the Student Activity Fee Committee, claimed that it had to deny funding requests for “[a]ny Organization which engages in activities, advocacy, or speech in order to advance a particular political interest, religious faith, or ideology.” But apparently that only applied to views the school didn’t agree with because the Committee awarded funds to other groups that advocated for abortion and abortifacients, hosted events like “God is Dead: Life without Religion,” and advocated “for the social affirmation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, and questioning lifestyles.” The students sued and the university ultimately agreed to a settlement requiring a change in the policy. I thank God for young people that are not afraid to stand firm for the truth. They’re an example of what boldness and courage produces — the freedom to believe!
Elsewhere, at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, a paralegal student filed suit against the college after security stopped her from handing out Valentine’s Day cards that contained comments like “Jesus loves you! Romans 5:8” and “You are special! 1 John 4:11.” The college justified its actions based on its Public Assembly Policy. She challenged the policy on the grounds that it violates her right to free speech. We will watch to see how this case plays out in the courts.
Back in my home state of Louisiana, Bossier Parish has been targeted again by the anti-Christian group, Americans United for Separation of Church and State. This time, they threatened Benton High School with a lawsuit for allowing a local Christian owned business to be a booster club sponsor and have their company name and logo on the football field. The issue was the name of the company: Christ Fit Gym. The company paid $3,500 to feature its advertisement, which displays its Christ-bearing name, its cross-bearing logo, and a citation to the Bible. Legal counsel for the school board advised that it had received a challenge to the logo for being an “improper endorsement of religion.” Christ Fit Gym, which has advertised its business at the high school for years, received a temporary restraining order to prevent the censoring of its advertisement. Unfortunately, school officials had already reacted to the threat and spray painted over the logo. Perhaps uncoincidentally, the threat by American’s United follows a separate lawsuit filed against Bossier Parish schools for unconstitutionally promoting religion.
Despite the game of whack-a-mole we seem to be playing with those who can’t stand the idea of religious expression in the public square, we should be heartened by the courage of those standing up for their rights in these lawsuits. The Benton High School football players instructed to paint over the company’s logo said it best. After the boys “just told the coaches we wouldn’t do it,” one took to social media and wrote that “You have to stand up for Christ no matter what.” Well said. The best defense is a good offense. If we want to defend our rights — free speech and religious freedom — then let’s use them!
Originally published here.
This is a publication of the Family Research Council. Mr. Perkins is president of FRC.