Sanity Injection

Injecting a dose of sanity into your day’s news and current events.

How to make enemies and influence people

Posted by sanityinjection on November 5, 2009

Today Taliban-type Islamic terrorists blew up a school for girls in northwest Pakistan. It’s the second such bombing this week and one of hundreds of similar acts of destruction committed by the terrorists over the past couple of years.

While every such attack is a tragedy, in the wider perspective of the struggle for the hearts and minds of the people of Pakistan, these school attacks are a boon because they make it clear that the terrorists are their enemies. For rural villages in this part of the world, having a school of any kind – for girls or otherwise – is a mark of prestige and great pride for the villagers. To have their school blown up is to lose the village’s most valuable possession. Regardless of whether villagers may share the terrorists’ extreme brand of Islam, these acts drive those villagers squarely into the camp of the Pakistani government and by extension, the West. (Many of the schools were in fact built by Western aid organizations which the villagers also remember.) The Taliban’s destruction of over 200 schools in Swat was arguably the key factor in swinging public opinion and local leaders behind the government’s anti-Taliban offensive there.

Ironically, the attacks may also have the effect of convincing more traditionalist families to allow their daughters to be educated. After all, there’s nothing like being told (violently) you can’t do something to make people want to do it.

One also wonders what effect these attacks have on Taliban recruiting.  The young men who fight for the Taliban want to see themselves as brave fighters for Islam. I’m not sure that blowing up little girls meshes too well with their ideas of heroism.

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