Saturday, August 22, 2009

Something to Read and Ponder on a Saturday Night

Afghan girls in school
Afghan Girl, burned by acid attack.

The Women and Children of My Lai

My Lai, Vietnam March 16, 1968

Two reads to inflate and deflate your feelings. The first, will inflate then deflate your confidence that our best intentions will ever find purchase in the last medieval place on earth.

Nicholas D. Kristof gets a sharp hat/tip for sharing this article in the New York Times Magazine by Dexter Filkins.

Filkins begins:

EVEN BEFORE THE men with acid came, the Mirwais Mena School for Girls was surrounded by enemies. It stood on the outskirts of Kandahar, barely 20 miles from the hometown of Mullah Muhammad Omar, the Taliban’s founder. Just down the road from the school, in an area known as Old Town, residents had built a shrine to Mullah Dadullah, the Taliban commander with the fiercest reputation, who made his name by massacring members of the Hazara minority. He was killed in an American-led operation in 2007. Also nearby sat the Sarposa Prison, where, in June 2008, Taliban fighters and suicide bombers attacked, freeing more than a thousand criminals and comrades. The area around the Mirwais Mena School is the Taliban heartland. Teaching girls to read was not something that would escape their notice. Across the country, the Taliban have made the destruction of schools, particularly schools for girls, a hallmark of their war.

Read More: Pay particular attention to the final page as the best hopes disolve into the quicksand of tradition and the self-interet of the patriarch, that has ruled this part of the world since before the time of Alexander.

Filkin's article is part of a special issue entitled Saving the World's Women. The lead off article in this 12 part series introduces the reader to Why Women's Rights Are the Cause of Our Time.

IN THE 19TH CENTURY, the paramount moral challenge was slavery. In the 20th century, it was totalitarianism. In this century, it is the brutality inflicted on so many women and girls around the globe: sex trafficking, acid attacks, bride burnings and mass rape.

Yet if the injustices that women in poor countries suffer are of paramount importance, in an economic and geopolitical sense the opportunity they represent is even greater. “Women hold up half the sky,” in the words of a Chinese saying, yet that’s mostly an aspiration: in a large slice of the world, girls are uneducated and women marginalized, and it’s not an accident that those same countries are disproportionately mired in poverty and riven by fundamentalism and chaos. There’s a growing recognition among everyone from the World Bank to the U.S. military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff to aid organizations like CARE that focusing on women and girls is the most effective way to fight global poverty and extremism. That’s why foreign aid is increasingly directed to women. The world is awakening to a powerful truth: Women and girls aren’t the problem; they’re the solution.

Read more:

This next piece, gave this old Vietnam Veteran a WTF moment; it only goes to illustrate that mass murderers have gotten off before.

"There is not a day that goes by that I do not feel remorse for what happened that day in My Lai," William L. Calley told members of a local Kiwanis Club, the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer reported Friday. "I feel remorse for the Vietnamese who were killed, for their families, for the American soldiers involved and their families. I am very sorry."

William L. Calley

If you look above you will see two photos of that day, the first a group of women and children seconds before they became the objects of the final photo. As a fellow soldier and a human, I will never forgive Calley or anyone who killed women and children, regardless of "following orders." Shame on us for not hanging him and his immediate superiors.

Read more: Ex-Army soldier involved in massacre apologizes

Then read this: My Lai Massacre

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