Cheat-Seeking Missles

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Afghan Journalist Death Sentence: A Good Thing?

In Afghanistan, a young journalism student -- just 23 years old -- has been sentenced to death for printing up his own little newspaper with stuff he downloaded from the internet -- stuff Islamic judges have decreed violates Islam.

Click here for Sayad Parwez Kambaksh's story. The story is not at its final chapter yet, though. Kambaksh has a couple appeals before his fate, whatever it may ultimately be, will be sealed.

Some pundits will seize this story as an example of our failure to stop the Taliban and its influence in Afghanistan. They include Jules Crittenden, who wrote this a.m.:
I thought the point of that invasion was to bring an end to this kind of thing.
But he and the others miss the point by half. Yes, it would have been nice if the invasion would have instantaneously re-righted a ship that's been leaning hard-Islam for centuries, but could we have at least an iota of reasonableness in our expectations?

It may not have been the point of the invasion, but it is because of the invasion that we are reading about what's happening to Kambaksh. Until America had the audacity to secure freedom for Afghans -- something the Russians certainly never intended to offer them -- those who defied the Islamic inner circle's opinion of what was right suffered in medieval anonymity.

AP did not carry their stories. Memeorandum did not pick the stories up and re-distribute them broadly over the Internet. The secret councils just did their dirty work for Allah out of sight, with no one to stand up for the victims of Mohammed, He Who Must Never, Never, Ever Be Challenged. There was no public knowledge or public opinion -- because the public simply did not matter.

That has all changed with the invasion. The spotlight of the world is on the ancient brutality of Islam, and Islam is not standing up well to the scrutiny. As the West rises up in protest, and it certainly will rise up to defend Kambaksh, it empowers those within the repressive Islamic system who want to speak more freely, to vote in elections, to control their own destiny. And it weakens those who use the Koran to keep the people chained.

So yes, the invasion is putting and end to this sort of thing. But the invasion is not a superhero that can jump tall institutions in a single bound. It is a thing of incremental gains, and we will see this again in the case of this young journalist who, I'll bet you, will not be executed.

So hooray for the invasion. Without it, it would be much worse in Afghanistan, and much, much worse for a certain young journalism student.

Photo: Time

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