I know that many leftists who actively opposed the US-UK ouster of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan believed they were acting in the best interests of the Afghan people. But I hope even they will concede that the invasion had at least one good result: it enabled hundreds of thousands of girls to go to school for the first time in their lives, something impossible under the old regime.
Now it seems that remnants of the Taliban or other Islamic fundamentalists are trying to snuff out the hopes of these girls and their parents and teachers.
Recounting the torching of one school near Kabul, Washington Post reporter Pamela Constable wrote:
Now the doors have been padlocked, the teacher says he is too scared to return, and the former students are back to their customary chores — pumping water at the village well, weeding onion fields and carrying loads of animal fodder on their heads.
That may be exactly what the unknown assailants had in mind when they broke into the shed late at night 10 days ago, doused the classrooms with fuel and set them afire, leaving behind leaflets in the Dari language warning that girls should not go to school and that teachers should not teach them.
“When I was walking home today, the little girls followed me and asked when they could go back to school. But I am not ready to teach them again because I am afraid for my own safety,” confided Fazel Ahmed, 39, the school’s only teacher. “I’m very upset. These students will make the future of our community and our country.”
The attack was followed two days later by the midnight burning of three tents used as classrooms outside another school in Logar province. According to officials of UNICEF, which is helping to revive the country’s long-neglected education system, there have been 18 incidents of school sabotage nationwide in the past 18 months, often accompanied by similar warnings.
It occurs to me that leftists scouring the world for humanitarian causes to support could do worse than volunteer to stand guard at Afghan girls’ schools. Maybe the International Solidarity Movement could spare a few of their people for the task. Maybe some of the former “human shields” in Iraq are looking for a new cause.
Or would such a mission lack the necessary frisson of hostility to Israel and America?