Malala Yousafzai: still a hero!, by Bill Weinberg
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Malala Yousafzai is still taking abuse even amid the adulation accompanying her American tour last week. Upon her shooting one year ago, her Taliban would-be assassins claimed she had praised Obama and expressed support for "Western culture." This was quickly exposed as nonsense, as it became clear that Malala was a sympathizer of a Marxist tendency that was fighting for secularism in the mullah-dominated Swat Valley! However, some voices on the "left" continued to diss her in self-righteous terms, even engaging in lugubrious conspiracy-mongering that the whole affair had been set up as a propaganda job. So what are we to make now that Malala has spoken before the United Nations, appeared on Jon Stewart, and met with Obama in the White House? Are the cynics vindicated? Has Malala now, finally, been co-opted?
No. Malala saves herself. She used her audience with Obama not as an excuse to bask in accolades, but an opportunity to speak truth to power—by protesting the incessant US drone strikes on Pakistan. As she said in a press statement released after the meeting: "I thanked President Obama for the United States' work in supporting education in Pakistan and Afghanistan and for Syrian refugees. I also expressed my concerns that drone attacks are fueling terrorism. Innocent victims are killed in these acts, and they lead to resentment among the Pakistani people. If we refocus efforts on education it will make a big impact." (McClatchy, Oct. 11)
We do hope that after this, Malala's sanctimonious critics will learn some humility.
Like the heroic peasant pacifists of Colombia, who are taking a nonviolent stand in the face of paramilitary terror, Malala has faced down evil, in real life and up close. Nothing could be further from the hypocritical stance of too many Western pacifists, who, with bewildering arrogance, preach nonviolence to the oppressed of Pakistan or Syria from the comfort of New York or London.
Malala Yousafzai has clearly not been co-opted, even now, and she owes this to her life experience of real immersion in real struggle, at real sacrifice. She is a hero still.