Monday, November 26, 2001

Please, don't make me defend Hillary Clinton

Did the apocalypse happen over the weekend? Is the world spinning backward and the sky orange?* (Hey, I work third shift, I might have missed it.)

Senator Clinton's by-line can be found on an opinion piece at Those who instinctively twitch whenever her name is mentioned have already queued up at their word processors, and I confess that the only reason I can bear to type the phrase "Senator Clinton" is that, after all, she isn't my senator.

But I actually read this short essay beginning to end, and you know what? (It's OK to be folksy like that since the President says it.) Much to my surprise, I found myself nodding in agreement.

Okay, she didn't waste any time reminding us she used to live in the White House. Big surprise. If I'd ever spent the night in the White House, I'd talk about it too. And, okay, she takes a little too much credit for having recognized the conditions under which women lived in Afghanistan. All you had to do was pay attention, but a lot of people weren't doing that much.

And yes, nobody asked her what she thought about Afghanistan. But everybody else has an opinion, why not her?

We cannot simply drop our bombs and depart with our best wishes, lest we find ourselves returning some years down the road to root out another terrorist regime.
I defy you to disagree with that. But wait, there's more. Does America have a right to impose its values on Afghan society?

Women's rights are human rights. They are not simply American, or western customs. They are universal values which we have a responsibility to promote throughout the world, and especially in a place like Afghanistan.
Yes, universal values. Human rights weren't created by the American Constitution, and they exist even outside American jurisdiction. Of course, other cultures have a right to exist in their own fashion, but not to the extent that they hold their own people in terror.
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator [not named] with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness..."
(Read the rest, it's fascinating.)

If we really believe that, we have an obligation, not to impose our way of life on the Afghans, but to show them the advantages of ours and to allow them the basic human right of choice.

* Sorry. It's a Buffy the Vampire Slayer reference. Call it my membership card in the geek club.

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