The Taliban regime and its treatment of women
As the war against terrorism continues and the memories of the horror of September 11th begin to fade, the ardor of some Americans will flag. Those not directly affected by the murders will be the first to question the exposure of our military to hostile fire or to question what it will cost to purchase “freedom from fear.”
Historically, we Americans are not very good at fighting wars of attrition – long, drawn-out wars in which victory comes in slow increments -- if at all. The Vietnam War is an excellent example. We are much better at fighting wars of annihilation. The American Civil War, World Wars I and II and the Gulf War are examples of all-out, fight-to-the-death wars of annihilation. A good text book on this subject is Russell Weigley’s The American Way of War.
During what is likely to be a long, long struggle, it is important to our ability to endure that we understand the stakes involved in this struggle and what it is about. The stakes are our national security and the continuation of our way of life. But terms such as “national security” and “way of life” are soon overused and lose their impact.
Many of us relate better to human-interest stories involving oppression and unfairness. Historically, we have responded to the suffering of others and have been willing to risk our own lives and treasure to come to the rescue of the oppressed and downtrodden.
While it is important that our war against terrorism not be cast as a war by western civilization against Islam. The treatment of women by the Taliban is, by any standard, abominable and ought to provide additional motivation to stay the course.
The author of what follows is unknown to me; however, it is a brilliant comparison of the opportunities afforded to American women with the absolute lack of opportunity which is the plight of women under the rule of the Taliban. Edited mostly for length and slightly for clarity, here it is:
”Miss America…is hoping to earn a Master’s degree in Bioethics. Miss Afghanistan is forbidden from receiving any education at all, and cannot read or write.
“Miss America…worked as a lab assistant. Miss Afghanistan is forbidden from working.
“Miss America’s father is an engineer. Her mother is a teacher. A gang of Taliban militants shot Miss Afghanistan’s father. Her mother begs for bread scraps since she cannot work or remarry.
“Miss America will be traveling…during her reign. Miss Afghanistan cannot leave her house without a male family member, cannot drive, and cannot be out after dark.
“Miss America is a breast cancer research advocate. Miss Afghanistan cannot be treated by a male doctor and, for all practical purposes, has no access to medical treatment of any kind.
“Miss America can date, marry or divorce anyone she chooses. Miss Afghanistan will be stoned to death if caught in the company of a male outside her family. She is likely to be sold into an arranged marriage to a man who already has two wives.
“Miss America wears sunscreen on the beach to keep from burning. Miss Afghanistan cannot live in a house with windows unless they are painted black. Since she must wear a burqua outside, her pale, translucent skin has not seen a ray of sunlight in years.
“Miss Afghanistan will be pregnant three to four times more often than Miss America and her babies are 25 times more likely to die in the first year.
“Miss American is majoring in speech communications. Miss Afghanistan is forbidden from speaking in public.
“Miss America’s life expectancy is 90 years. The life expectancy for an Afghan woman is 43 years. (Afghanistan is one of the only countries in the world in which women have a shorter life expectancy than men.)”
For those who need something with a more human dimension than fighting for “national security,” stopping the Taliban from inflicting this abuse on womankind may provide a compelling motivation.
William Hamilton is a nationally syndicated columnist and is the co-author of The Grand Conspiracy by William Penn – a novel about foreign terrorism directed against the United States.
©2001. William Hamilton