Yesterday marked 16 years since the al-Qaeda sucker-punch known as “9/11” reached our shores. We are now far enough out that, if you were to survey high school seniors, very few of them would be able to speak of memories of that day. In a way, that’s a good thing - even adults have trouble processing evil of that magnitude. In a way, though, that means that they’ve grown up with an ever-present threat of terrorism within our homeland; we have always been at war in the Middle East, and getting on an airplane has always been a tedious process.
As we observe this particular anniversary, we are a few days past the 12th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina’s landfall; we are watching Texas’s recovery from Hurricane Harvey last month; and we are watching Hurricane Irma thrash through Florida up into Georgia, having devastated several islands in the Caribbean on her way up. Katrina was blamed for 1,833 deaths, while Harvey currently stands at 70, and Irma is at 26. Of course, these numbers are adjusted when emergency workers are able to fully assess the aftermath; but both Harvey and Irma will have U.S. death tolls less than 10% of Katrina, despite Harvey bringing (unexpectedly) more water and Irma bringing way more wind. These lower death tolls are not just dumb luck. We have poured lots of resources into identifying the threats these hurricanes pose to our mainland and territories, and we can give warnings far further in advance than we could 12 years ago. We evacuate people in harm’s way, and we provide a strong law enforcement presence to protect the homes of those who evacuated.
What does that have to do with terrorism? The goal is the same - preservation of the lives of our citizens. To do that, we rely on intelligence to give us as much advanced warning as possible. We warn our citizens of danger, and we do our best to mitigate its effects. Unlike weather, we do have the capability to eliminate this threat before it makes landfall; however, like weather, sometimes unexpected shifts occur. In these intervening 16 years, we have had occasional attacks that have been carried out, but we’ve had others that have been thwarted before they could be. As this post-9/11 effort continues, approaching the 20-year mark, let’s continue to pray for those who are defending us. Pray for their success, for their safety, and for them to complete this mission honorably.
There is one other way in which terrorism and the 2017 hurricane season are similar. I think I speak for all of us when I say “No way, José…”
Who would have thought that a beauty pageant would bring rape to the forefront of American conversation? Yet, this year’s Miss USA pageant has done just that, in two different aspects. As you may have already surmised, this post will deal with rape by name, but in the abstract. You have been warned.
First up is the winner, Nia Sanchez. She entered the competition as Miss Nevada, and it is her interview answer that’s getting the attention. She was asked about the spike in rapes on college campuses, and she replied:
“I believe that some colleges may potentially be afraid of having a bad reputation, and that would be a reason it could be swept under the rug, because they don’t want that to come out into the public. But I think more awareness is very important so women can learn how to protect themselves. Myself, as a fourth-degree black-belt, I learned from a young age you need to be confident and be able to defend yourself, and I think that is something we should start to implement for a lot of women.”
Now, you may be reading that thinking, “OK, where’s the controversy?” The backlash has been mostly from leftist feminists, with a common response being “Instead of telling women to defend themselves and victim-blaming, why don’t we tell men not to rape?”
Now, I’m going to set this off in a larger font, in bold, all-capital letters, so that if any of these lunkheads venture over here, it’ll stand out, and maybe they’ll get the point.
ADVOCATING SMART SELF-DEFENSE IS NOT VICTIM BLAMING!
See, you can tell men all you want not to rape, and the vast majority of them will get it. In actuality, the vast majority aren’t rapists to begin with, contrary the leftist feminist talking points. A large number of victims does not equate to a large number of perpetrators. So, by all means, educate. The men who grew up raping in video games or watching rape fantasy pornography may have their minds reoriented, and not become perpetrators.
That leaves us with the men who will not alter their behavior, and continue to think it’s OK for them to do that. Why in the world would you get onto someone for advocating that women learn how to defend themselves? I’ve been around a while, and this tip-toeing around the defense issue has done nothing but make the numbers of victims skyrocket. Punch, kick, shoot - whatever it takes, learn the skills to give yourself the greatest chance to not become a victim.
Let me take a quick minute to address the “victim blaming” charge. There are people who do this; however, there are people who would categorize what I’ve written above, particularly that last sentence, as victim blaming. Those people are just as useless as actual victim blamers. Yes, a woman should be able to do whatever she wants and maintain a reasonable expectation that no one will take from her what she has not offered. But, we don’t live in a “should” world, we live in an “is” world. An “after-action analysis” type of look at these events can yield information that could make this less likely. We have no trouble telling women to walk to their cars in pairs, and to park under a light, to avoid getting mugged. But, if we make that same situation as a smart way to reduce your risk for rape, now we’re victim blaming? Now, if you take that analysis and start saying, “Well, you knew you couldn’t hold your liquor, and you had 7 drinks” to imply that the woman had a hand in it, you’re venturing into victim blaming territory.
To take this thought one step further - let’s say that we can eliminate all rape in the next 15 years through education. Are they really arguing that it’s smart for women to leave themselves more vulnerable for the next 15 years? If so, I would put these leftist feminists into the “rape culture enablers” camp. A good self-defense class takes a couple of weeks to complete. If the men won’t get educated, let’s make sure they get hurt.
On a much more positive note, we have Valerie Gatto, Miss Pennsylvania. After the competition, she revealed that she was conceived during a rape. (See, Todd Akin? You moron…) That part isn’t good, but what is good is what happened after that. Her mother was going to give her up for adoption, but decided to keep her, and worked to raise her in a loving home. Now, she is using her platform to support those who have gone through similar situations. Who knows, maybe she can be the poster child for the people the “rape exception” abortion people want to keep from being able to draw breath.
236 years ago today, the United States of America became a nation, kicking off one of the most successful experiments in self-governance recorded to date. As we enjoy today’s festivities, we should remember a few things. First, we should remember that our freedom was both gained and preserved at a high cost; over a million individuals have lost their lives in US military conflict. Second, we should remember that this freedom has no lasting ties here; we are not immune to the human lust for power that has created so many dictatorships and totalitarian regimes. If our freedom is to be preserved, it must be defended from “all enemies, foreign and domestic” (to borrow a phrase some of you may recognize).
So, on our nation’s birthday, reflect on the great sacrifice that has been made for us to be able to live in this great nation. Tomorrow, get back to the work of defending this freedom, so that our children and grandchildren can enjoy the same freedom we have enjoyed.