By Tony Perkins
Not a day goes by that our staff doesn’t pass by the bullet holes in the FRC lobby and thank God for Leo Johnson’s courage. His heroism was on display that tragic August 2012 morning at FRC — and now, it’s literally on display at a special exhibit of the National Museum of Crime and Punishment. Just blocks from the office Floyd Corkins, an LGBT activist, entered with plans to “kill as many people as (he) could,” the gun, backpack, and other pieces of evidence from the thwarted shooting are being featured as a new “Domestic Terrorism and Hate Crimes” exhibit.
Last Wednesday, the museum officially opened the display, which tells the story of Corkins’s mass murder plot and Leo’s bravery in stopping it. For the next five years, the FBI is loaning the materials to the museum for an exhibit that is not only a testament to Leo’s sacrifice, but to the dedication of law enforcement officers — and most importantly, the Lord’s protection.
FRC’s story is told alongside other incidents of domestic terror, including 9-11, the Boston Marathon attack, the Unabomber, and Ku Klux Klan lynchings. The goal, said a museum spokesman, is to challenge people “to reexamine their beliefs on what constitutes a hate crime, how history has been documented, and how prejudices have changed.” In just two and a half years, the attack at FRC has had a major impact on the local community. While one of our staffers was at the exhibit last week, a group of police cadets came by and explained that how Leo handled the incident is now taught to all of the cadets.
On a national scale, the message is just as powerful — that those who want to intimidate by engaging in violence or reckless labeling are the real extremists. During Corkins’s trial, prosecutors revealed in federal court the link between SPLC — the supposed authority on all things “hateful” — and this act of domestic terrorism. Three years later, despite the evidence, many in the media refuse to admit what the Southern Poverty Law Center really is: an organization that inspires hatred through its effort to marginalize and silence those they disagree with on biblical morality and public policy. As August 15th made painfully clear, this is more than dangerous; it threatens our very system of government.
This exhibit stands as a reminder that in a civil society, we must never allow free and open debate to be shut down through acts of terrorism. As Americans we will have our disagreements, but we must all boldly stand up for the freedom to debate these issues without giving into fear and intimidation.
Tony Perkins is president of the Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council. He is a former member of the Louisiana legislature where he served for eight years, and he is recognized as a legislative pioneer for authoring measures like the nation’s first Covenant Marriage law.
(Via FRC’s Washington Update. Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.)
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