Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Profiles in courage

From today's NYT:
One morning two months ago, Shamsia Husseini and her sister were walking through the muddy streets to the local girls school when a man pulled alongside them on a motorcycle and posed what seemed like an ordinary question.
“Are you going to school?”

Then the man pulled Shamsia’s burqa from her head and sprayed her face with burning acid. Scars, jagged and discolored, now spread across Shamsia’s eyelids and most of her left cheek. These days, her vision goes blurry, making it hard for her to read.

But if the acid attack against Shamsia and 14 others — students and teachers — was meant to terrorize the girls into staying home, it appears to have completely failed.

Today, nearly all of the wounded girls are back at the Mirwais School for Girls, including even Shamsia, whose face was so badly burned that she had to be sent abroad for treatment. Perhaps even more remarkable, nearly every other female student in this deeply conservative community has returned as well — about 1,300 in all.
Read the rest of the story, which includes a photograph of Shamsia.

Some people have said that I showed courage years ago when I started my own law practice, and for taking on large companies in court and the US government in representing a couple of Guantanamo detainees. Nothing I have done is worth a fig compared to the daily bravery of those school girls and their families in a remote Afghan village--and of thousands of others prepared to resist the forces of ignorance and hate.

This page has criticized President-elect Obama's announced policy on Afghanistan, but let's all be clear that the goal of helping Afghans to move their nation out of the twelfth century--not to our vision of the twenty-first, but to theirs--remains worthwhile, even necessary. The debate ought to be about how we can do it.

1 comment:

Leanderthal, Lighthouse Keeper said...

Why isn't there a Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Humans,
an SPCH? Probably because it couldn't raise enough money to support its goals. Human beings delude themselves into thinking that's what euphemistic "Defense" Departments are for. In America it used to be called the War Department, a more honest label.