Will American left betray heroine Malala Yousafzai?

Malala Yousafzai has been moved to a hospital in Rawalpindi, the military administrative center outside Islamabad, and we are told the next 24 hours are critical for her survival. News media in Pakistan and the Subcontinent are expressing the widespread awe at her heroism and disgust at the cowardly attempt on her life. Islamabad's Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar called the shooting a "wake up call" that could represent a "turning point" for the nation, Pakistan's Express-Tribune reports. An editorial in India's Hindustan Times hails her as "the braveheart who took on the Taliban." Pakistan's Dawn newspaper calls her a "symbol of courage," and its columnist Syed Fazl-e-Haider has an op-ed in the New York Times, entitled "Malala Has Won."

Malala is the victim of Talibanization, the radical mind-set spawned from a theocratic and obscurantist interpretation of Islam. Talibanization is about forcefully imposing a theocratic agenda on the people. It is about radicalizing them. It is about creating more and more suicide-bomb squads in the name of jihad against liberals and moderates, Muslims and non-Muslims. The attack on Malala liberated many shackled and Talibanized minds. She has won.

Dawn and Express-Tribune also note the candlelight vigils being maintained in support of Malala in cities across Pakistan, with such slogans as "These gun-toting mullahs are afraid of an unarmed girl."

The Taliban, however, haven't skipped a beat. The Express-Tribune reports Oct. 12 that Malik Gul Zada, a village militia leader who stood up to the Taliban, was assassinated in Barawalis tehsil (county) in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility for the slaying.

Meanwhile, what have progressive voices in the West to say about Malala? Precious little, and some of it unbearably stupid. One ultra-paranoid blogger calling himself American Everyman has two posts seizing in lugubrious manner on the inevitable inconsistencies in the early coverage of the shooting as well as purely imaginary inconsistencies in some of the accompanying photos to make the case that the whole thing is a charade spawned by some neocon conspiracy. Under the headline "The Staged Malala Yousafzai Story: Neoliberal near-Martyr of the Global Free Market Wars," he writes: "The 'brave Malala' story is completely fake just like the Jessica Lynch story, just like the Nurse Nayirah story, just like the Nada story from Iran…"

The "Nada" (sic) referenced is presumably Neda Salehi Agha Soltan, the young woman killed by security forces during the 2009 protests in Tehren—whose death was very real despite the ugly conspiracy theories that were spun by the official media in Iran. "Nurse Nayirah" was the woman whose bogus testimony about non-existent Iraqi war crimes in Kuwait helped lubricate Operation Desert Storm in 1991, and of course Jessica Lynch was the US army private whose supposed "rescue" in Iraq in 2003 really does appear to have been staged. But nothing indicates that Malala was thusly manipulated. What cruel, maddening, reactionary idiocy. Recalls the "leftist" paranoids who could only see a neocon conspiracy in the Egyptian revolution. Only even worse.

As we have noted, the "neoliberal" Malala is actually a Marxist revolutionary! The one leftist website in the West we've been able to find that has anything principled or intelligent to say about Malala is In Defence of Marxism, UK-based site of the International Marxist Tendency (IMT), the Trotskyist current to which the precocious Malala apparently gravitated:

IMT sympathiser shot in Swat — Barbarism must not prevail!
The suffering of the people of Pakistan is largely unknown in the West. A veil of silence has been carefully drawn over the number of people killed every day by American drones and Taliban murders. But recently a small corner of the curtain was raised as the result of a particularly appalling event.

Yesterday Malala Yousafzai was brutally shot by gunmen as she was returning home from school. Masked assassins stepped onto a bus filled with terrified children, identified her, and shot her at point blank range in the head and neck.

Who are these men who wage war on defenceless schoolgirls? We know who they are because they have already admitted their guilt. The cowardly murderers who perpetrated this vile deed feel no need to hide away from public opinion. They feel no shame, for they are utterly shameless. The Pakistan Taliban has claimed responsibility for this act of bloodthirsty savagery.

What crime did this fourteen year-old girl commit that could justify the taking of her life? Was she a friend of American imperialism? Did she support the occupation of Afghanistan? Was she on the side of the Pakistan government and its army?

No, she was none of those things. On the contrary, Malala was on the side of the oppressed people of Pakistan and Afghanistan and every other country. She was an enemy of imperialism, landlordism and capitalism. She stood for the cause of freedom, progress and socialism. And for that they have tried to take her young and innocent life.

And what do anti-war sites in the US have to say? We see nothing—not a word—about Malala on the pages of the War Resisters League, United for Peace & Justice or US Labor Against the War. We are happy to note that Code Pink (which sparked recent controversy in Pakistan by participating in a cross-country march in protest of the drone strikes organized by Imran Khan, a politician widely considered too soft on the Taliban) at least sports a lone Tweet reading: "We condemn the shooting of #MalalaYousafzai by the #Taliban. Raised funds to support her school ow.ly/eoEbl #Pakistan." Nothing on the front pages of Toward FreedomTruthOut or AntiWar.com. (Don't even bother with the openly reactionary International ANSWER, International Action Center or Workers World.)

A pretty pathetic record for the stateside left, so far. As we have pointed out time and again, Pakistan and Afghanistan (and Iraq and Yemen) are between two poles of terrorism—that of US imperialism and that of political Islam. Of course our first responsibility is to protest the drone strikes, which are carried out in our name and with our tax dollars. But we cannot do so effectively without actually grappling with the reality on the ground in Pakistan (and Afghanistan, and…). 

If only progressives in the West could realize it, Malala is ours—not the neocons', not the neoliberals', not Hillary Clinton's. She is our ally, and has displayed a heroism that puts the best of us to shame. We have a responsibility to loan her vigorous support—not only because basic human solidarity mandates it, but also because shrewd tactics demand it. We cannot allow her legacy to be usurped by the war-mongers.


  1. Who Code Pink marched with
    From The Guardian, Oct. 14:

    Afghanistan’s government has lashed out at Imran Khan after the former Pakistan cricket star, now a politician, said the Taliban were fighting a “holy war” in the country that was justified by Islamic law.

    Speaking after visiting a hospital in Peshawar where Malala Yousafzai – the 14-year-old activist shot in the head by the Taliban for supporting girls’ education – was treated last week, Khan told reporters that insurgents in Afghanistan were fighting a “jihad”. Citing a verse from the Qur’an, he said: “It is very clear that whoever is fighting for their freedom is fighting a jihad …

    “The people who are fighting in Afghanistan against the foreign occupation are fighting a jihad,” he added, according to a video of remarks to journalists.

    Afghan politicians have reacted with disbelief, with one parliamentarian suggesting Khan should be arrested. The Ulema Council, a grouping of senior clerics, declared his comments “unislamic”.

    A Kabul foreign ministry spokesman said Khan was “either profoundly and dangerously ignorant about the reality in Afghanistan, or he has ill will against the Afghan people.

    “Our children are killed on daily basis, civilians killed and our schools, hospitals and infrastructure attacked on a daily basis. To call any of that jihad is profoundly wrong and misguided.”

    Now—inevitably—what complicates it is that the Afghan government has little legitimacy to make this criticism since it is a coalition of warlords who are collaborating with the US/NATO occupation. But that doesn’t change the fact that Imran Khan really is either dangerously ignorant or has contempt for human life and freedom…

    What will Code Pink have to say about this? Anything? We’ll be waiting…

    1. Imran Khan detained by Homeland Security
      OK, we’ve got issues with Imran Khan, but we still call bullshit on this… bigtime. From the Toronto Sun, Oct. 26:

      TORONTO – Pakistani cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan was yanked from his flight to New York and taken in for questioning at Toronto Pearson International Airport Friday.

      Khan, who was in Brampton Thursday night for a politically-charged speech about turmoil in his homeland, boarded an American Airlines plane from Toronto to New York to speak at another fundraising dinner in Long Island City the same day.

      “I was taken off from plane and interrogated by U.S. Immigration in Canada on my views on drones. My stance is known. Drone attacks must stop,” Khan tweeted at 3:35 p.m. Friday.

      The questioning reportedly lasted up to an hour before Khan was allowed to board a later 4 p.m. flight to New York.

  2. Thanks for Malala Yousafzai coverage
    Bill, I’m glad to see your post here. One thing, the WRL site is not a high volume blog. Please feel free to suggest a post to WRL so that we can add it to our blog. I don’t think WRL is at all reluctant to speak out against her attempted murder.

  3. Malala Yousafzai conspiracy theorists make hay in Pakistan
    The New York Times’ The Lede blog on Oct. 16 makes note of the ugly theorizing on Islamic web forums (including on Facebook) in Pakistan that Malala was shot by the CIA or Mossad, and also the exploitation of a brief meeting she and her father made with US envoy Richard Holbrooke and other diplomats where she uttered exactly one line: “I will request you all, and respected Ambassador, I will request you that if you can help us in our education, so please help us.” For this unforgivable sin, she was slandered online by leaders of Pakistan’s largest religious party, Jamaat-e-Islami, as having attended “a meeting with American military officers.” But the introductory paragraph, before the lies are even deconstructed, is most revealing about the Taliban pathology:

    In yet another statement to the Pakistani news media defending the assassination attempt, a Taliban spokesman claimed on Tuesday that young Malala Yousafzai, who had criticized the Islamists for closing girls’ schools in a blog she wrote for the BBC when she was 11, was “a spy who divulged secrets” and “created propaganda.” The spokesman, Ehsanullah Ehsan, also took pains to note reports that the girl had turned 15 in July, suggesting that this meant that she was no longer a child. “Even if no sign of puberty becomes noticeable,” he said, “this age of the girl marks the end of prepuberty phase.” That being the case, he added, the “Taliban executed the attack on an adult girl only after she emerged as a pivotal character in the media war against us.”

    Let’s hope these thugs have overplayed their hand this time, and are about to be laughed off the stage of history…

  4. Secularist leader killed in Peshawar suicide blast
    A leading anti-Taliban politician was among eight killed  Dec. 22 when a suicide bomber blew himself up outside a house in Peshawar city where leaders of the Awami National Party were holding a meeting. Bashir Ahmad Bilour, a senior ANP leader and a minister in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa provincial government, succumbed to injuries sustained in the suicide attack, for which the banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility. (PTI, Dec. 22)

    Note that the ANP are harsh opponents of Imran Khan and his Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaaf (PTI) party, with wom Code Pink marched in the anti-drone protest…