Opinion

MALALA’S LESSONS FOR PAKISTAN — AND FOR US

By Chris Powell

Malala Yousufzai

Horrifying as the Taliban’s shooting of Malala Yousufzai, the 14-year-old girls education activist, and her two classmates in Pakistan was, nothing less horrifying could have shaken her country into facing its choice between civilization and barbarism.
Malala — brilliant, beautiful, and fearless or foolhardy — now lies unconscious and possibly brain-damaged in a British hospital, having become the daughter of her nation, the embodiment of its vast potential and its tortured present. Indeed, Malala may become the daughter of all nations infected with the medieval gangster sect of Islam represented by the Taliban, the mullahs of Iran, the clerical police of Saudi Arabia, and such, a sect for which oppression of women is the highest religious doctrine.
Even as the Taliban were trying to assassinate Malala for “Western thinking” and “promoting secularism,” a 20-year-old woman living in darkest Afghanistan was beheaded by a group of men for refusing to submit to prostitution. Now the Taliban are threatening Pakistani news organizations that publicize their crimes. This sort of religious gangsterism is common only in the Islamic world, where most decent people have not yet found the courage of that teenage Pakistani martyr to stand up to it.
The West is rightly sickened by all this but it is not for the West to intervene militarily to overthrow it, as the West has intervened militarily in Afghanistan. Such intervention only changes the subject to colonialism and makes the religious gangsters look like patriots. The West can agitate, hector, condemn, and ridicule in support of human rights in the benighted Islamic world and encourage the people there to wage their own struggle for decent civilization.
After all, Malala became prominent at age 11 by writing daily commentaries for the Urdu-language section of the British Broadcasting Corp.’s Internet site, claiming her right and the right of all Pakistani girls to education, which the Taliban seeks to deny them. By 14 Malala had become a mortal threat to them.
Imagine the mortal threats to religious gangsterism that could be nurtured by ringing the benighted Islamic world with liberation-minded television and radio stations and Internet sites celebrating the dignity of the individual and encouraging the oppressed to seize their rights. Imagine the mortal threats to religious gangsterism that could be nurtured by arming liberation movements to fight their own battles. Imagine if the U.S. government vigorously disputed instead of coddled Islamic rioters demanding censorship of “blasphemous” expressions.
Then religious fanatics might be confronted by democracy fanatics. The people of those backward countries would learn from it. That learning might be violent occasionally, but as the attack on Malala shows, it already is. Freedom isn’t free.
But the West also has something to learn from the attack on Malala: that the core Western values of human rights are superior and must be defended here as well against the muddleheadedness of “multiculturalism,” the belief that one culture is as good as another, moral relativism.
Because of its policy of uncontrolled immigration, Europe is sinking under millions of immigrants from the benighted Islamic world who have refused to assimilate into pluralistic and democratic culture and to give their allegiance to their new countries.
The United States lately also has had a policy of uncontrolled immigration. Fortunately geography has put the United States farther away from the benighted Islamic world, and many immigrants to the United States want to assimilate, some of them desperately so. But some don’t, and in time more may not want to.
That cultural threat is far more serious than the threat of terrorism about which the government is always trying to scare the public, from the futile war of nation building in Afghanistan to the constant FBI sting operations concocting terrorist plots here at home.
Chris Powell is managing editor of the Journal Inquirer in Manchester.

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