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Tuesday: Practicing politics to get to poetry

About a week ago, the NYTimes had a moving video about the recent resurgence of the Taliban in the Swat Valley of Pakistan.  The first thing the Taliban targets when it moves into an area is education for girls.  In this video, a pretty brave little 11 year old Pakistani girl tells what it is like to go to school when the Taliban return.  Her father owns his own school and has seen matriculation and tuition decrease since the fundamentalists have moved in.  Parents are afraid to send their children to school and his own life is on the line for social activism.

His love for his daughter is evident.  But what I find most poignant is his goal for her.  She wants to be a doctor but he tells her she must be brave and become a politician and lead people to reject fundamentalism.  It is both bold and visionary and an amazing testament to his confidence in her.  I hope they both come out of this alive.

See the video here: Class Dismissed in Swat Valley

Yesterday, there was a related article about women’s shelters in Afghanistan.  A few years ago, women who were sold into marriage and abuse in Afghanistan had few options to escape it, the most effective being suicide.  Now, there are a number of shelters opening up that offer a little bit of hope for women fleeing oppressive marriages and culture while their personal situations are sorted out.  It might seem like a little thing but the choice to control one’s life is the first step to political self-determination.

32 Responses

  1. I am very encouraged there are women shelters in Afghanistan! I think that’s a huge step and I pray they will remain open….since they like the schools : a place where the female of the population can begin to realize another possibility.

  2. For the life of me I can’t understand why people would want to live in the 14th century.

    Actually, they want modern technology (especially the weapons) but 14th centrury culture.

  3. PS when the New York Times notices women’s plight in Afghanistan, I think that’s a good indication we are ramping up there…as we know we are. They notice when the powers that be need a cause

  4. Other religions (Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism) came out of their black periods (literal interpretation of religous text) by letting in fresh air, new thinking, rationalist thought, edcation, and reinterpretation. Socieities were liberated from the iron hand of religion. Unfortunately, Some Islamic countries never went through that phase. Too late for now.

    Muslims in India and in Indonesia to some extent have made that transformation though. So we can’t say it can’t be done.

  5. That video is so sad. My heart breaks for the girls and women who must survive this horror. But I admire their courage.

    • I am not sure that I would be as brave as the father in the video. If I had the means, I would leave and educate my children in safety. I hope that he is brave and not just naive.

    • The video evoked a lot of emotion in me. Here I am, 45+, just graduated with a PhD, that I was able to rather leisurely obtain. I can do more or less what I want, and although my PhD was not welcomed by most of my family (very strict religionists) it was by my parents and surprisingly, my Uncle.

      And yet that little girl and her father have to fight for their lives for her education. What a gift an education is! How lucky we are to have them. I hope she and her father and family do well, and can take back their beloved Swat.

  6. OT, but worth a read: Obama is being cast as a liberal by the now disappointed David Brooks: http://www.commentarymagazine.com/blogs/index.php/rubin/57011.

    • Well, when Jim Cramer starts talking publicly about “Obama proofing your portfolio”, you know we are up a creek without a paddle..possible without the canoe as well. I found this article a good summation of Cramer’s stance. Cramer was a big Hillary Clinton supporter and I think mainly because he felt she knew what she was doing and had a sound economic understanding. “Amateur Hour”….that is exactly right. But of course, all us wall street types are evil evil evil…and in case you forget that, mr. obama and his adminstration will gladly remind you again and again. Oh where will his relection $$$ come from in 2011?

      http://www.businessandmedia.org/articles/2009/20090303083226.aspx

      • i saw him last night send out an sos to Obama to stop destroying people’ssavings, ti was amazing

        • Wow. Just rad the clip from ainnj. I agree with her assessment of Cramer on Clinton during the election season. With Obama we have a person who never clearly stated his principles; with very little experience governing; who needs/wants the financiers’ money to finance the remainder of his career (assume he wins a second term: he’ll need a high paying job after that – too young to retire); and thus has every reason to kowtow to them, and plan on pulling another P.R./cheat job to get votes.

      • I just put up a thread with a utube link to the rant

  7. Honora, I thought the same thing–his incredible principles, yet might he be sacrificing his daughters life for them? I do admire the courage, but yes–fleeing (if I could) would be my instinct–coward that I am.

    When people are afraid, they need the simplicity of strict controls. But 14th century controls? It is amazing. What could be the payoff for those how make that choice?

    • Joaniebone and Honora,

      Yes, I’m very worried for the daughter; and I wonder why he doesn’t get her out of there and to a place where she can go to school safely.

  8. I don’t understand why women’s groups back in the 1980s and 1990s were ignored when they tried to draw attention to Afghanistan, but I am glad that finally there is some recognition. There are Christian groups that want to go back in time, to the 1st century, or the 17th century, or whenever they think there was some better, more pure religion. I don’t think it is limited to Islam, except that lately the news focuses on the “backwardness” of Islam.

  9. http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/03/03/cafferty.first.lady/index.html

    perhaps after reading this article by Jack Cafferty, you can suggest Michelle Obama go to Afghanistan as Laura Bush did on Women’s Rights…instead of visiting all the state departments in Washington DC,
    maybe she should try a little of her “fame” and being such an outstanding mother, on women who need help.

  10. OT: If you don’t want to start your morning off angry, don’t listen to this podcast. But I think it’s a great example of journalists last year who saw things completely different from the rest of us. Unfortunately, most of the press is much like the jerk/editor from Newsweek who was on NoQuarter radio last night.
    http://www.noquarterusa.net/blog/2009/03/02/in-15-minutes-evan-thomas-newsweeks-editor-at-large-guest-on-paula-abeles-sins-of-omission-9-pm-et/

  11. I’m sure Paper Doll is right, they are trying to get ‘average Americans’ ready to support more troops in Afghanistan.

  12. Oh, but maybe they are pointing out how bad women have it in Afghanistan so we will feel liberated here. Look how good “you” have it in comparison, what are “you” whining about?

    • I agree with this assessment — it is truly horrible how women are treated in Afghanistan, but the fact is we are treated only marginally better here. Ever seen what happens to a woman who accuses a man of rape in this country? How about what happened to Palin & Clinton during the election? We are not even mentioned in the Constitution save for the 19th amendment (right to vote).

      Funny how no one seems to care that Obama’s giving of millions directly to Hamas to “rebuild Gaza” is helping misogyny thrive in the middle east either. They pretend that the two things aren’t related.

  13. Where is that Obama “bounce”? I thought that meant a bounce up. I had no idea the bounce was down the stairs, into the alley and rolling along the gutter. I told you that bowling score was the big “tell all”.

  14. “where will his relection $$$ come from in 2011?”

    I think it may very well still come from Wall Street. It all depends on the alternatives. I saw an article a while ago where some trader shrugged off Obama’s rhetoric: “Well, Obama is just saying what he has to, he’s a politician.” I suspect that’s not a unique thought on Wall Street. As long as they get what they want from Obama, he can say whatever the hell he wants. And he talks a lot!

  15. Thanks RD. I learn as always on TC.

    It is religious tyranny, as an antidote to anarchy. All religions are capable of it and have histories of it (yes, even some Buddists). A thousand years ago, the Islamic world was arguably the most scientific, enlightened, and civilized in the world. In our lifetime, Bhutto has been President of Pakistan, Megawati of Indonesia.

    The Taliban are atrocious, to be kind. But they were the only group that ended the perpetual civil wars and implosion of Afghan society after the Soviets (and Americans) left a vacuum in 1989. The Taliban are the Mujahideen that the US armed then abandoned in the 80s. Just for perspective (though a weak example), they used to have European style fashion runway shows in Kabul during the 1970s. Before geopolitical pressures became too much. Similar backlash happened in Iran. Kabul and Tehran are not London or Moscow, but the superpowers wanted to believe they could be.

    There are today Taliban like oppression of women’s rights and human rights in many places in the world, in the name of religion or just plain patriarchal tyranny. The whole continent of Africa is an emergency. Wherever there is such oppression, light needs to be shone, pressure needs to be brought to bear. No one in their right (secular) mind can excuse the Taliban for their horrors. Still, how much more do we focus on the plight of Afghan women over those in Uzbekistan or Sudan or dozens of other countries. Is it because the abuses are so much worse or because we see it up close, with our troops. The two cups of tea guy shone some light, but did he himself affect a change. I grew up in various countries with missionaries all around me. Almost always, they meant well, they brought help in some instances, they proselytized, and they were patronizing. Strangely, it’s the memory of that last bit that lingers most.

    We’ve been policing the world for well over half a century now, in many cases where no one else had the guts or interest. It makes us different and in some ways great as a people. But it is also helpful to understand where to draw the line on intervention, whether it’s politics, religion, or anything else. If the Russian army showed up one day, plopped down 20 divisions somewhere in Virginia, took over the WH and began telling us how to save the economy, clean up our society, punish our criminals, I could only take so much.

    I’d like to believe it’s possible to bring social change where needed in the world that is not on the backs of a religious or military mission. Again, the internet can be a powerful tool across borders. And any censorship of that ought to be called out and challenged vehemently.

    • It is NOT a problem with religion. Religion is only a tool. It is plain old male fear of women and a need to find an excuse to dominate them.

  16. Read this post, then try to imagine a current correlary to the Jewish state. If this is to be a year of our bringing equality for women to the forefront, and fighting to abolish violence and disregard for women, then we will all have to come to grips with the fact that you can’t back Hamas and not erode the possibility of strenghening women’s rights in that region. Women and children are truly physical pawns to a very violent men’s political assault in the middle east and beyond.

  17. We need the SoS over there ASAP. Here’s Hillary doing what she does best, working towards a solution.

  18. Great that there are shelters, that is a step in the right direction. But I have to wonder how long women will accept the victim role here and around the world. Here we accept when a nomination is stolen and we vote for the guy despite rampant sexism in his campaign and the press.
    In Afghanistan women go to a shelter to protect themselves from death and abuse… why do we as women not fight back directly? Why do we not say..”hell no, it is my life or yours”?

    We STILL accept that we should wait for equality rather than fight for it in any sort of way that punishes those that deny it to us.

  19. Thanks for the link to the video RD.
    I cried to see that brave father and daughter, smiling through their pain,
    believing they can fight the madness.
    I find it so hard to understand why the government of Pakistan capitulated to the Taliban in Swat. I hope they never succeed in taking over the whole country-
    with it’s nuclear weapons it would be devastating.

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