'The World Cannot Say It Didn't Know'
They sat in rows — hundreds of them — heads freshly shaved. The men are blindfolded and hunched over, their hands tied tightly behind their backs. Close to tears, Omerbek Bikali looks at the footage — shot at a train station during another Uyghur round-up — and becomes overwhelmed. “That used to be me,” he says quietly. “I cannot forget.”
He is one of the fortunate ones. Of course, there was probably a time when Omerbek wouldn’t have considered months of torture, suffering, and uncertainty “fortunate.” But in China, where electric fences and high walls hide a world of pain, the saying goes, “If you enter a camp, you never come out.” Amanzhan Seiit did. But watching the video, shot by a drone over the Xinjiang province, he shudders. “I know what the prisoners are thinking," he says — because he was one of them. "They don’t know where they’re being taken or if they’ll be shot dead. It’s terrifying.”
For the millions of Uyghurs in China’s concentration camps, being kidnapped, having hoods put over their heads, and being driven hours away from their families was just the first clue that their world was about to change. The interrogations, beatings, gang rapes, electrocutions, drug injections, and organ harvestings were the other.
Thousands of miles away, the case that’s been building after months of surveillance videos, survivor testimonies, drone pictures, and leaked Chinese documents has reached its boiling point. “This is not a ‘terrible secret,’” the Washington Post insists, like how little the West knew about the Final Solution when it occurred. The world cannot say it didn’t know. And in the U.S., it cannot say it didn’t act.
Tuesday, the House, in almost complete unanimity, sent a powerful message to China that America will not stand idly by while the regime brutalizes and exterminates its own people. By a 407-1 vote, both parties stood in solidarity with the millions of Uyghurs and other religious minorities forced to walk China’s blood-soaked trail of genocide. Under the act, the monsters responsible for these camps would be sanctioned and new bans on the sale of U.S.-made goods to state agents would inflict fresh pain on the country’s economy.
“It’s important to give the administration tools to hold Beijing accountable for what it’s doing,” Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) told listeners on “Washington Watch.” “The bill in the House and the Senate version would give the administration the ability to stand up to this. And it also expresses the sense that the United States Congress [refuses to allow this] to happen.” It all goes hand-in-hand, he explains, with the pushback America’s led on Hong Kong. “[I]t’s vital to say to Beijing that oppressing your own people, that stamping out faith, that going after [religious] people and ethnic minorities is not permissible. We won’t allow it… And China’s desire to dominate the world is not something we’re going to stand by and watch happen.”
Even President Trump, who’s knee-deep in trade talks, knows that protecting innocent people is more important than negotiating better tariffs with the devil. “It’s great,” Senator Hawley agreed, “to have an administration that is willing to confront China and… actually stand up and say, ‘We are not going to allow you to continue to take our jobs, to steal our property, and run roughshod over the things we value most like religious freedom, like freedom of the press, freedom of assembly’ — things that they want to deny Hong Kong, for instance…”
Despite China’s threat that America will “pay” for interfering, the president continues to keep human rights and religious freedom issues at the forefront. And for once, the House is standing with him.
“Beijing is always threatening. They’re always saber rattling. But the truth is,” Hawley reminds everyone, “we’re the ones in the driver’s seat. China needs our supply chains. They need our investment. They need our trade. They are not in a position ultimately to stand up to us. Now… Beijing wants to dominate the Asian region [first], and then they want to dominate the whole world…. And we’ve given too much ground over the years. This is part of why we need to stand up now. But we should not listen to a thing that Beijing says. We need to go forward and stand up for our principles and keep the pressure on China.”
Make no mistake, Senator Hawley said, “We’re in for a long struggle here with China. We need to be realistic. They are a threat to us… [But] we’re starting here finally to show some strength — and we’ve got to keep it up.”
Originally published here.
Army Tags Scripture as Offensive
“It’s not a piece of metal on a chain. It’s honor and dignity and glory.” — Kenneth Davis, veteran
Nothing can ever bring back Cheryl Spivey’s son. After three tours, he had the chance to stay home. But the dad of three and combat medic reenlisted anyway, because “he could help.” On his fourth deployment, Tony died helping. Now, a group of angry activists want to take away one of the few comforts Cheryl has left: a set of dog tags reminding her to be strong.
“It blew my mind.” That’s the only thing Kenny Vaughan could say about it. When the Army’s trademark office contacted him and ordered him to stop printing Bible verses on his products, he couldn’t believe it. “They had asked us to do it,” Kenny explained. For years, his company, Shields of Strength (SoS), had a good relationship with the Army — and every service branch. Going back to Operation Iraqi Freedom, troops wore the special dog tags he made — with the military’s blessing. They were so meaningful to people like Army Ranger Russell Rippetoe that when he died, President George W. Bush even mentioned them at his funeral.
“Aside from the official insignias they wear,” historian Stephen Mansfield points out, “a [the SoS dog tag] is the emblem most often carried by members of the military in Afghanistan and Iraq.” Now, 20 years and five million dog tags later, the Army’s suddenly decided it has a problem with the idea. Citing a complaint from the bitter secularists over at the Military Freedom from Religion Foundation, Paul Jensen, Director of the Army Trademark Licensing Program sent an email to Vaughn insisting on a dramatic change of course. “You are not authorized to put biblical verses on your Army products. For example Joshua 1:9. Please remove ALL biblical references from all of your Army products.”
Now, to be clear: this is not being paid for by the government. This is not government money. It’s simply a nonprofit using the trademark license approval it’s been granted to print the Army emblem. So what grounds does MFRF have to say these can’t be produced and voluntarily worn by our military? According to First Liberty Institute's Michael Berry, none.
“These are just uplifting, encouraging, inspirational verses,” he told listeners on “Washington Watch.” But he points out, Weinstein is “perpetually offended.” Even though Kenny Vaughn makes and distributes a lot of these (more than two million, to be exact) out of his own pocket. “But apparently, according to Mikey [Weinstein], no good deed goes unpunished. And… Weinstein seems to think — wrongly — but [he] seems to think that it violates the Constitution, and that the Army should sue or take legal action…”
It’s nothing more than a “publicity stunt,” Berry argued. “Well, I guess it’s more than a publicity stunt. It’s a cowardly act, because Kenny Vaughn and I have met many service members — and in many instances, gold star families who have lost loved ones in combat… And to them, these small tokens of faith and military service mean the world. And to deprive them or other families of the ability to have a small token of military service is just the deepest insult you can imagine.”
Not to mention unconstitutional. In a letter to Jensen, First Liberty warns that if they press the issue they’ll lose. “Clearly their motivation,” Mike explained to me, “…was simply the fact that Mikey had generated some negative publicity and a little bit of heat on the Army. And they immediately raised the white flag and capitulated to that bully. And… enough is enough. When are people in the Department of Defense going to realize that the Constitution, the First Amendment, and federal law like the Religious Freedom Restoration Act have to mean something? Those don’t stop at the Pentagon’s front door.”
Berry and the rest of First Liberty will do anything it takes to remind them. “We won’t stop until they’re allowed…” After all, Kenny points out, “the very freedom our soldiers fight for is at stake.”
Originally published here.
Impeachment: The Genuine Articles
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was right about one thing in her morning press conference: “Our democracy is at stake.” The liberal leader, who announced the House is officially filing articles of impeachment, proved just how little she understands about the Republic she claims to be saving. “If the House proceeds,” constitutional expert Jonathan Turley warned, “this impeachment would stand out… as the shortest proceeding, with the thinnest evidentiary record, and the narrowest grounds ever used to impeach a president.” But at this point, most people would agree, it’s all the Democrats have.
Donald Trump, like everyone else in America, has seen this coming for three years. “If you are going to impeach me,” he fired back, “do it now, fast, so we can have a fair trial in the Senate, and so that our Country can get back to business.” Not that America’s business was ever something Pelosi worried about. Congressman Warren Davidson (R-Ohio) brought up that glaring failure on “Washington Watch.”
“While Democrats will say, ‘Well, we passed this [or that], they’re passing the most partisan bills in the world — knowing there’s zero chance the Senate is going to take those versions up. They’re not even pretending to work… It’s all messaging stuff, and it’s all positioning to try to win the big race in 2020. That’s all this is about for Democrats — and it’s all that the House floor is about as well. There is not a serious effort to legislate or solve problems. And it’s frustrating, frankly, to some of my Democratic colleagues, but that doesn’t change how they’re voting.”
The average American, he pointed out — especially in swing states like his — are fed up with the whole thing. “And I think probably ratings say that… They want to know: when is the country going to move forward and get on with governing?” Not for awhile, it seems. That’s bad news for the Left’s 2020 chances, Davidson warns. While they pursue this obsession, “think of all that’s failing to get done! Fund and equip our military, fix our broken immigration system, make healthcare more affordable, [and] balance the budget,” he urged.
As for the prospects of actually removing Trump, Davidson and his colleagues aren’t overly concerned. “We have the facts on our side,” Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) insisted. “All they have is hatred of President Trump. All they have is not liking a man who came to office to do what he said he was going to do, and he’s actually doing it. When you got facts on your side, truths on your side, it will win every time.”
Originally published here.
This is a publication of the Family Research Council. Mr. Perkins is president of FRC.