Archive for Sunday, October 14, 2012

Opinion: Add teen girl to list of those who fought for truth

October 14, 2012

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“Truth crushed to earth will rise again.”

— Martin Luther King Jr. (quoting William Cullen Bryant)

Sometimes, oceans are not enough.

Usually, the fact that we are barricaded on both sides by great bodies of water gives us in this country a certain sense of remove from the awful things people with funny names do to one another in strange places on the far side of the globe. But once in awhile, the thing is awful enough that you can’t ignore it, or pretend that it is less real.

Such is the case with Malala Yousafzai, the 14-year-old Pakistani girl whose shooting last week on a school bus in the Swat Valley sparked headlines and outrage here and around the world. Yousafzai, who at this writing is in critical condition after emergency surgery, has been an Internet activist, agitating for women’s access to education

The Taliban considers that a capital crime. It claimed responsibility for the men who stopped the bus and boarded it, who asked for Malala by name and, when she was identified, shot her and fled. The group has said that if Malala survives, it will come for her again. It says her death is required under Islamic law.

But make no mistake: Islam is not their religion. It is their excuse.

There are two reasons this story crossed the ocean. The first is that it is appalling. Human garbage does not get much ranker than a man who boards a school bus to kill a child. The second is that it is recognizable, that we see in their mad religious and ideological fundamentalism ghostly shadows of our own.

Granted, the outspoken child in this country is not in particular danger of physical violence from religious or ideological zealots. But the abortion doctor is. The gay couple is. The Muslim-American is.

Fundamentalism is fundamentalism wherever it breeds, always the same dark stain of unbending literalism, always the same shrill claim that it guards the one true path to enlightenment, always the same crazed insistence that the one unforgivable crime against faith, the one inexcusable heresy of ideology, is to ask questions.

But where there are no questions, there can be no true answers. And where there is not freedom, there cannot be real faith. How real can faith be if it is not a thing freely held, if it is something required, coerced, enforced?

This is something fundamentalists never understand. They think people can be intimidated or mandated into silence. They think people can be shot or bombed into obedience.

Perhaps, for a while, they can.

But the great man was right: Truth crushed to earth will rise again. And he was right, too, when, in the same speech, he quoted the abolitionist Theodore Parker: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Because there are not bullets enough in all the world to gun down the human will to be free.

So eventually and inevitably, there will always be someone who can neither bend, nor pretend, someone compelled by conscience — and yes, sometimes, faith — to stand and resist. There will always be a Mohamed Bouazizi, immolating himself in Tunisia, a Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat in Alabama, a Paul Rusesabagina sheltering people from massacre in Rwanda, an Oskar Schindler hiding Jews from the Nazis in Poland, a nameless man standing before a tank in Tiananmen Square. And a Malala Yousafzai, age 14, defying the Taliban in Pakistan.

In taking their lonely stands, these people birth myths and memories that make us — and generations that come after us — braver than we actually are, or would otherwise be. In a word, they inspire. So the irony here is almost poetic. The Taliban was so threatened by the words of a little girl that they tried to kill her.

And in so doing, they ensured that she will never die.

— Leonard Pitts Jr., winner of the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for commentary, is a columnist for the Miami Herald.

Comments

Abdu Omar 2 years, 8 months ago

Pitts is right. This is not the face of Islam to kill children or adults for political means unless it is in self defence and cerainly the killing of a 14 year old girl is not self defence. Islam states clearly that women are equal to men but not the same. It says that education is vital and required to promote a community and the nation. Islam says that men have a degree of authority over women because women are to be placed above men when it comes to childbearing and rearing. All in all it all works to an equality and consequently an everlasting love between the genders. God is right in His requirments and the Taliban is 100% wrong. Killing of one person is the same (in punishment) as the killing of all mankind and saving one from death is the same ( in praise and good deeds from God ) as saving all of mankind. So the men who tried to kill this little girl has tried to kill all of mankind.

JackMcKee 2 years, 8 months ago

I thought this was going to be about #heblowsalot

Kathy Getto 2 years, 8 months ago

I am shocked that our own home- grown fundamentalists are abstaining from belittling Pitts thIs morning. "The second is that it is recognizable, that we see in their mad religious and ideological fundamentalism ghostly shadows of our own."

Maybe, just maybe, they saw their own reflection in thIs statement.

Flap Doodle 2 years, 8 months ago

Think of all the 14 year old girls shot for not following the religion of their parents by Presbyterians and Baptists in America this year..... Oh, wait, that doesn't seem to have happened. Can you say "false equivalence"?

deec 2 years, 8 months ago

How about doctors shot by Christian religious fundamentalists? Do they count?

Kathy Getto 2 years, 8 months ago

Look at child abuse stats, domestic abuse stats among the righteous fundamentalists. I won't bore you with the child porn addictions by christian fundamentalist clergy.

Thomas Bryce 2 years, 8 months ago

I lived with it(physical abuse of women and children) when I was young. I grew up in the Time of Corporal Punishment. The leaders of these families don't see it as abuse. They are simply "asserting their Authority" and they believe The Bible gives them this right.

Kathy Getto 2 years, 8 months ago

Yes, I suppose their belief that the bible is inerrant leads them to believe they have the right to do many things unlawful.

Thomas Bryce 2 years, 8 months ago

It is no wonder people see striking similarities between the two Religions.

Armstrong 2 years, 8 months ago

Wow deec what a trashy comment even for you.

deec 2 years, 8 months ago

In what way is it "trashy?" Christian fundamentalist zealots have shot doctors. Dr. Tiller was shot and killed by a religious extremist in a church.

Or is this just another example of a conservative commenter attacking the messenger rather than the post's contents?

voevoda 2 years, 8 months ago

What about those children rescued from their parents' van in the Walmart parking lot just a few weeks ago, snap? Not such as "false equivalence" after all; those things happen right here in Lawrence.

Liberty275 2 years, 8 months ago

Men tried to kill a 14 year old girl. Bickering about it is tasteless. With that, I'll sit this one out.

Thomas Bryce 2 years, 8 months ago

I am praying she lives. For people who Believe completely in "God's Will", That would,Hopefully, be a message that resonates across their land and forces them to take a look at what they are REALLY doing to themselves and their own people. Unfortunately, due to what we have seen in their actions of the past,I am afraid it will have little effect on the "Extremists". I can only hope the general population rises up against these tyrants and drives them from their Religion. God Help Them All.

tomatogrower 2 years, 8 months ago

I hope so too. The problem is these people have been intimidated for so long that they constantly live in fear. They don't think "Hey, I'm sick of this. I'd rather die that put up with this any longer." But they don't have the same history as we do.

Thomas Bryce 2 years, 8 months ago

Yes,They have lived like this for a couple thousand years. That is what makes Malala so special. This type of behavior is unheard of in their culture. Sometimes the actions of children can inspire us all. Just might be the spark that is needed to ignite the Flame.

Kathy Getto 2 years, 8 months ago

Because relgious fanaticism is wrong on any level. Why do you choose to ignore facts?

deec 2 years, 8 months ago

The Inquisition. The Crusades. Genocide of Indigenous people in the name of civilizing them.

Armstrong 2 years, 8 months ago

Pitts seems to have stirred the religious bigots and assorted trash today

Topple 2 years, 8 months ago

I'm not sure pointing out the historic cruelties of those acting in the name of their God is bigotry.

Cait McKnelly 2 years, 8 months ago

Why is it that people that don't believe as you do are automatically "atheists"? (i.e. "infidels") And you think there is no grounds for comparing US extremists to the ones in the Middle East? Yeah. Right. I'd say you just provided a very fine, illustrative example.

voevoda 2 years, 8 months ago

WristTwister, I guess you forgot the American who attacked the Sikh temple a couple of months ago. Is a comparison really so absurd? "Do not keep thinking how wise you are." (Romans 12:16)

deec 2 years, 8 months ago

I'm not sure the nation has evolved much when there are still politicians deemed to be credible who believe rape can't lead to pregnancy. We also have many Christian politicians who believe women are incapable of making their own decisions regarding reproduction. The positions conservatives take on most social issues fit rather nicely with those of conservatives in the Middle East.

deec 2 years, 8 months ago

Killing others because they don't hold the same opinions and beliefs is more of a regressive behavior. Kind of like conservatives who threaten to shoot people for stealing campaign signs, or doctors who perform procedures they find objectionable.

oldbaldguy 2 years, 8 months ago

time for the paks to say enough is enough. they won't, this will blow over. another day in paradise in the big sand pile.

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