Thursday, October 24, 2013

131.5 - Hero Award: Malala Yousafzai

Hero Award: Malala Yousafzai

And this week, guess what, we have another Hero Award, given as occasion arises to someone who on some matter big or small just does the right thing.

This is actually the fourth straight week with a Hero Award. The universe must be having a good month.

In this case, the who is someone I'm sure you know about, but you may not have heard about the why.

The who is Malala Yousafzai, the 16-year-old Pakistani girl who a year ago was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman because of her advocacy for education for girls.

That's the who, and that itself would clearly be enough. But this is the why: She recently visited the United States, a visit widely covered by major media, during which she met with President Obama on October 11.

In a statement released after the meeting, Malala said she was honored to meet with Obama, but that she told him she's worried about the effect of US drone strikes in her country.
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.
Interestingly and revealingly, the White House statement on the encounter didn't find room to mention that part of the discussion.

For the most part, the mass media, which was so interested in her visit, also avoided that part of the news. But as the media watchdog group FAIR points out, that's not unusual: This past April, a Yemeni writer and activist named Farea al-Muslimi testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee about the effect of drone strikes on his country: "What the violent militants had previously failed to achieve, one drone strike accomplished in an instant. There is much anger against America." FAIR found that with the notable exceptions of the New York Times and the Washington Post, the mass media largely ignored the hearing.

But getting back to the case here: For speaking truth to power, particularly power that doesn't want to hear it, Malala Yousafzai is a hero.

Footnote: A group called Roots Action is trying to initiate a movement for an international agreement to ban weaponized drones. A petition to that end has now gathered around 100,000 signatures. A small start, but such movements always start small. You can find a link to the petition below.


Roots Action petition:

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