Northeast Syria: A Beacon of Religious Freedom that Deserves Our Protection
October 07, 2019
By Travis Weber and Arielle Del Turco
Turkey just announced its plan to attack one of the few oases of religious freedom in the Middle East -- and it is doing so after President Trump began withdrawing U.S. troops from a part of northeast Syria.
Yet backing out of Northeast Syria is a betrayal of our friends and allies, a disavowal of our values, and will work against our long-term interests in the region. It could also lead to the death and displacement of thousands of religious minorities who have found protection under the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria.
It is an oft-overlooked story that in the wake of ISIS's genocide, the Kurdish-led SDF established a semi-autonomous area in Northeast Syria in which religious freedom flourished and religious minorities were protected. Pluralism thrived and democracy began to gain a foothold. This area stood in stark contrast to the surrounding countries where religious persecution is rampant. This beacon of freedom had the additional effect of serving as a bulwark against Iran, which would otherwise seek to gain influence in Syria, expanding its regional power and threatening Israel and the United States' allies in the Gulf.
With Turkish President Erdogan's announcement of his pending invasion, all of this is now at risk. Though the Kurdish forces in Northeast Syria have long been a trustworthy American ally, Turkey accuses them of being a terrorist group. But this excuse by Erdogan only serves to hide the fact that Turkey has a long history of attacking Kurds and is unhappy to see them develop a successful semi-autonomous region in Syria, although this area poses no threat to Turkey.
Erdogan has previously made threats against northeast Syria. Several months ago, the U.S. agreed to a "safe zone" in Syria along the Turkish border to act as a buffer between Turkey and the Kurdish-controlled area of Syria. However, the U.S. wasn't moving fast enough for Erdogan. This past weekend, he threatened to take matters into his own hands. On Sunday night, President Trump had a phone call with Erdogan that proved to be the deciding factor. The president agreed to withdraw U.S. troops from the safe zone.
Our Kurdish allies were devastated by the news. They understandably feel betrayed, and it's hard to interpret these U.S. military actions any other way. Kurdish fighters fought and died alongside U.S. troops to defeat ISIS. In the aftermath, they have acted responsibly and detained a number of former fighters. On top of that, they were building their own version of democracy which is truly pluralistic and protected religious freedom. They didn't ask us to do the work. The SDF and their co-laborers did it all themselves; they just wanted our support. The U.S. had promised to keep just 1,000 troops in Syria, to ward off any ideas of attack from Turkey, or anyone else.
Where religious freedom and human rights flourish -- especially in such a hostile environment -- it warrants U.S. support. Especially when those who have established a society with these features have been such close and faithful U.S. allies.
Yet now, in spite of all our allies have done, we've endorsed a Turkish military operation against them. It is understandable that this would cause doubts in the minds of others who might work with us.
President Trump is trying to look out for America's interest, but he's making a mistake here. Maintaining a free and secure Northeast Syria and preventing a Turkish attack is in America's interest.
The SDF will go to war if Turkey invades, and this would wreak havoc in a region that the U.S. has invested a great deal in. A Turkish military operation in Northeast Syria may lead to the death and displacement of thousands of religious minorities who lived out their faith freely in Northeast Syria. In such an environment, the resurgence of ISIS is more likely, not less.
The absence of any U.S. troops will also only embolden Iran. Once the SDF are cleared out of northeast Syria, Iran would come in, paving the way for it to project power all the way to Israel's border. In addition to constituting a serious threat to Israel, Iranian expansion in Turkey would threaten other U.S. allies in the Gulf.
President Trump has acknowledged the need to pursue America's interests in foreign policy, and that's good. But the United States' interest in the region is closely tied to the future of northeast Syria. The president needs to realize that and reverse course -- before it's too late.
Mapped-out: Where It's Dangerous in America to Be Born Alive
October 07, 2019
When New York and Illinois each passed abortion expansion laws earlier this year that repealed explicit state protections for infants who survive abortion, it provoked the question: "Are infants who survive abortion in the U.S. protected?" Many pro-abortion activists contend there are already sufficient laws in place to protect such infants. Yet as Family Research Council shows in a new set of maps detailing born-alive protections and the status of later term abortion across the country, this is simply not true.
In 2002, President George W. Bush did sign the Born-Alive Infants Protection Actinto law, which clarified that any infant born alive during an abortion procedure is a full person under the law. However, it did not include any provision ensuring proper medical care would be given to infants who survive abortion. Because the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act lacked adequate legal protections, many states passed their own "born-alive laws" in the ensuing years. As of 2019, 34 states have at least some explicit protections for infants who survive abortion. However, as our research for our new maps found, only 15 states have strong born-alive protections, and only eight require reporting on infants who survive abortion. Sixteen states have no laws protecting born-alive abortion survivors. Indeed, much work remains to be done.
Because the level of protection varies greatly from state to state, there can be confusion as to what protections exist for abortions survivors. With these new maps, we hope to bring clarity to this question, further the conversation, and see more protections put in place for babies who need them.
In the map, all 34 states with born-alive protections are given a ranking of "weak," "strong," or "best" based on elements of born-alive protections currently in their law. The 15 states with strong born-alive laws meet the elements of protection set forth in the federal Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, currently pending in the House of Representatives (H.R.962) and the Senate (S.130). Shockingly, 20 of the 22 states that allow abortion through all nine months of pregnancy -- as shown in our later term abortion map -- also have some of the weakest born-alive protections in the country. States like New Mexico, Oregon, New Jersey, and Vermont allow abortion up to the moment of birth and provide no legal protections for infants who survive abortion.
Minnesota is an anomaly when it comes to born-alive laws. It allows abortion at any point during pregnancy yet has some of the best born-alive protections in the country. Minnesota is also one of only eight states that require reporting the number of infants who survive abortion. Since 2015, when the reporting law went into effect, Minnesota has had 11 cases of infants surviving abortion. Imagine the number of abortion survivors that would be reported if large states like California and New York that allow abortion up through birth had reporting requirements. Born-alive laws are not a solution in search of a problem, but rather a solution to what is likely a huge problem.
A survey of the born-alive laws currently in effect across the country reveals that while many states have some explicit legal definitions for born-alive infants, 35 do not require full medical care and legal protections for infants who survive abortion. This patchwork of state laws protecting abortion survivors will not suffice. That is why Congress must pass the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act. Republicans in both chambers have taken the lead in championing this bill, but due to Democrat obstruction, the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act cannot get a hearing let alone a vote in the House of Representatives. Now is the time for all elected officials to decide if they are going to stand up for the most vulnerable members of our society or else be complicit with infanticide.
As this issue continues to arise in the political arena and public conversation, hopefully our map can help shed light on what is hidden, and we can see more protections for babies who survive abortion.
To see what protections your state provides for born-alive abortion survivors, view the maps at: frc.org/prolifemap. To join the movement to protect born-alive abortion survivors, visit endbirthdayabortion.com.
Is This Subversive Program in Your Child's School?
October 07, 2019
Navigating our educational system is one of the biggest challenges facing families all across America. Today more than ever parents need to be intentional partners in children's education, whether public, private, or homeschool.
Family Research Council has produced a resource for parents to help identify and monitor a particular threat to our values and religious freedom: divisive identity politics in the form of radical "social justice education." The most flagrant purveyor of partisan ideas aimed at our nation's school children is the highly partisan and left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).
Parents know that teachers and students alike are often trapped in a system controlled by huge interest groups like the National Education Association (NEA). While claiming to represent teachers, the NEA really represents its own partisan and left-wing agenda to turn teachers and students into "social justice" activists and liberal voters. NEA partners with many leftwing interest groups, including the SPLC. SPLC's "Teaching Tolerance," a special division designed to flood schools with free resources, promotes a one-sided view of controversial issues too partisan for use in public school settings.
Teaching Tolerance's stated goal is to "eradicate intolerance." But what they really want is to eradicate dissent from their particular brand of identity politics. Teaching Tolerance pumps out highly partisan resources for schools like:
- Curriculum frameworks aligned to Common Core Standards
- Lesson plans and reading lists
- Social media supports
- Posters, films, and other classroom aids
- Professional development classes and webinars for teachers and administrators.
A Teaching Tolerance specialty is producing official sounding documents like "Social Justice Standards" or "LGBTQ Best Practices" or "Code of Conduct: A Guide to Responsive Discipline" which are shipped to schools all over the country and backed up by heavy handed threats of legal action against schools who do not adopt this liberal worldview.
Read more about Teaching Tolerance here, including tips for addressing concerns to school officials if you find this material being used in your local school.