Malala Yusufzai has been everywhere. The Pakistani teenager whom the Taliban attempted to silence with bullet to the head is an international advocate for women’s access to education. She was a favorite for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize and her compelling interview with Jon Stewart has been circulated widely on social media.
In July, Assed Baig wrote an important piece for Huffington Post voicing very legitimate fears that Malala would become yet another token for what he calls the “White Savior Complex.” In short, she was a victim that allowed Western leaders to condemn the barbaric patriarchy of the East with no accountability for their own complicity in destroying the lives of men, women, and children in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, and so on.
In his piece, Baig suggests Malala is a particularly attractive token because her ongoing political message in favor of women’s education does not challenge the West. Specifically, she says nothing of the drone strikes that continue to kill and terrorize civilians across the Middle East and Southeast Asia.
However, on Friday, Malala sat in the Oval Office with President Obama, First Lady Michelle, and their daughter Malia. After the meeting and photo-op, Malala revealed that, in addition to thanking Obama for his support for education in refugee communities, she also told him his drone policy was a failure. In her words, “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.”
A 16-year-old Pakistani woman sat in the Oval Office and challenged the President on this foreign policy.
Let’s acknowledge the value of Baig’s analysis but hope Malala remains principled enough to continue arguing for the rights of women everywhere by critiquing all types of violence that inhibit them.
Six years ago today, Texas Governor Rick Perry commuted the death sentence of Kenneth Foster, Jr. If you know anything about Perry, he did not do this out of the kindness of his heart (one cannot possess kindness in something one lacks). Rather, a coalition of Kenneth’s family and anti-death penalty organizers left him with no other choice.
For a chronicle of how it happened, click here.
To learn more about Kenneth and his continuing struggle for freedom, click here.