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Phil Griffin: Threats to freedom ... in America

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An Associated Press account of Hong Kong residents being forcibly kept from their annual Tiananmen Square commemorative vigil in Sunday’s News & Record shows how China, in spite of its size and economic power, has chosen to suppress, rather than profit from, the creativity of a free people.

America grows stronger when Chinese refugees find freedom here, and bless us with their intelligence and hard work.

But another story in the same edition (“To ban it or not?” Ideas) revealed forces in our own community that would, if they could, impose authoritarian controls on Americans. A Northern Guilford High School teacher, Holly Weaver, told her story of defending her right to teach, and more importantly, her students’ right to learn, from an attempt to ban a book she used in her English class. Ms. Weaver’s efforts prevailed, and thanks to her, our freedoms are a little more secure.

In 1838, a young Abraham Lincoln noted the extent of America’s territory, and the liberty of her people, to argue that our freedom could never be threatened by outside forces. Rather, for any threat to our liberty to “ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. ... As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.”

In present-day America, threats to our freedom seem to spring up daily. We can only protect ourselves by recognizing that attempts to muzzle teachers, or weaponize homophobia through legislation, or curtail the freedom of women through the courts, or terrorize African Americans with racist murders, are all threats to the liberty of each of us.

Thank you to Ms. Weaver, and to all who champion American freedom.

The writer lives in Greensboro.


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