Malala Yousafzai is the 14-year-old Pakistani schoolgirl who was shot in the head and neck by a Pakistani Taliban gunman.
Her “crime”? Campaigning for the right of girls and women to pursue an education in Pakistan.
The attack came on October 9 when a Taliban gunman forced his way into a van full of schoolgirls, asked for her by name, and opened fire.
The assault has provoked unprecedented levels of public outrage, both in Pakistan and Afghanistan—even among people who have in the past sympathized with the militants.
But the Taliban has a different outlook on it.
“For days and days, coverage of the Malala case has shown clearly that the Pakistani and international media are biased,” said a Pakistani Taliban commander in South Waziristan. “The Taliban cannot tolerate biased media.”
The commander, who called himself Jihad Yar, argued that death threats against the press are justified. “Ninety-nine percent” of the reporters on the story, he claimed, were only using the shooting as an excuse to attack the Taliban.
Leaders of the Islamic Taliban
Yar did not apologize for the attempt to assassinate the girl, who passionately opposed the Taliban’s efforts to close girls’ schools.
“We have no regrets about what happened to Malala,” he said. “She was going to become a symbol of Western ideas, and the decision to eliminate her was correct. If she was not important for the West’s agenda, why would a U.S. ambassador meet her?”
The Taliban has reportedly decided to suspend all its current operations and activities in Pakistan. And it has momentarily directed field commanders and fighters to target media organizations instead of the government and security forces.
According to unnamed sources, the militants dispatched 12 suicide bombers against the news media. They especially wanted to target the electronic media and some foreign media organizations and their workers.
The Taliban is particularly eager to target female journalists. Said Yar:
“They were at the U.S. Embassy party with wine glasses in their hands and wearing un-Islamic dress with Americans.”
But the Pakistani Taliban have no monopoly on hatred of a free press. The American Taliban equally shares their passion for going after “troublesome” journalists.
One of these is radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh–America’s successor to Senator “Tail Gunner” Joe McCarthy as a slander-monger.
Limbaugh is furious with Candy Crowley, the moderator of the second Presidential debate between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.
During that debate–held on October 16–Romney accused President Obama of not calling the September 11 attack on the American consulate in Libya a “terrorist attack.”
Crowley–CNN’s chief political correspondent–immediately pointed out that Obama had, in fact, referred to it as an “act of terror” just two days later in a White House Rose Garden speech.
The effect on Romney–caught flat-footed in yet another slander on the President–was that of a man caught with his zipper open.
For the American Taliban–as personified by Limbaugh–Crowley’s daring to point out yet another Romney lie was simply too much.
“She committed an act of journalistic terror last night,” Limbaugh said the day after the debate.
Rush Limbaugh, American Taliban leader
“If there were any journalistic standards,” said the man who regularly shuns both fairness and objectivity, “what she did last night would have been the equivalent of blowing up her career like a suicide bomber.
“But there aren’t any journalist standards anymore. And she’s going to be praised and celebrated, probably even get a raise, give her another half hour on that show she hosts.”
Nor was Limbaugh the only right-winger to be furious that Crowley had exposed Romney as a serial liar.
John Sununu, former New Hampshire governor and a Romney campaign co-chair, said Crowley was “terrible.”
“She had no business trying to be a fact-checker on the stage, because she was dead wrong,” Sununu said.
Of course, the fact that Sununu–a longtime specialist in political slander–said Crowley was wrong does not make it so. She wasn’t wrong.
There are some differences between the Islamic and American versions of the Taliban:
- The Islamic Taliban are followers of Muhammed.
- The American Taliban are (nominally) followers of Jesus Christ.
- The Islamic Taliban speak variations of Arabic.
- The Taliban in the United States speak English.
So much for some of the differences. Now for some of the similarities.
- Both Talibans want to control the most private aspects of a woman’s life.
- Both Talibans believe they have the right to hold absolute power over their fellow citizens.
- Both Talibans believe they have a God-given right to destroy anyone who dares to disagree with them.
Above all, both Talibans–American and Islamic–fear and hate being exposed for the despots they are and support.
Harrison Salisbury, who covered the Soviet Union of Joseph Stalin for the New York Times, said it best:
“The truth, I was ultimately to learn, is the most dangerous thing. There are no ends to which men of power will not go to put out its eyes.”