Experience and time, however, teach us that notions of innocence and ignorance are tightly intertwined. We all know that keeping women ignorant and therefore submissive is an evil waste of human potential. While it hurts to hear of another school burning or acid attack in Taliban-held areas of Afghanistan or Pakistan, most people shrug at the news; after all,what can you expect in countries where the four-legged and two-legged donkeys are almost indistinguishable? As long as a warlord supplies them with a fancy, shiny rocket-propelled weapon fit for shooting down helicopters and assures them of good standing among their rotten-toothed, pajama-clad comrades, what else is there to wish for? The spectacle of these grimy slack-jaws yelling insults to the U.S. and burning our flag to protest the targeted killing of a mass murderer who has also been making their lives a living hell just shows how their individuality has vanished, reducing them to little more than a blob that rolls along mindlessly, killing and incorporating everything in its path.
What hope, then, remains for the women who live in the shadows of these thugs? That they are determined to learn and persevere despite frequent school and polling place bombings shows how much they value education and the right to vote. Their situation reminds me of the plight of European women during the Dark and Middle Ages, with one very important exception: these women, if their families permitted it, could flee the outside world and seek education, shelter, and a life of quiet industry in a convent. This separation from a life of grinding poverty or early death in childbirth advanced a revolutionary change in attitudes about women: far from being merely a submissive, two-legged uterus, women were intelligent human beings who could devote themselves to scholarly pursuits as well as grow their own food as necessary.
Parents living in a tribal region of Afghanistan,for example, who are desperate about providing for a family of daughters could place one or more of them in a fully-funded scholarship program that would also provide room and board in a non-sectarian school where they would get a first-rate education and also learn a trade. A foundation in economics would be an essential part of their education and teaching them how to grow a business using micro loans would be its practical demonstration. Pouring money into programs in villages that are terrorist-controlled hives of death and misery only makes the population resentful and envious because the terrorists steal the aid anyway. They need to learn how to produce honest wealth first. Mark my words: day schools are a start, but building fortresses or rather, walled cities of education and industry to assure that girls and women can use their intellectual gifts simply acknowledges that they really do live in an Islamic version of the Dark Ages and that we have the means to gradually bring light into their lives.
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