Published in The Washington Times
WASHINGTON, December 11, 2013 — “Time” magazine has chosen Pope Francis as its most influential person of the year. He is certainly an understandable choice given how he has refocused debate within the Church from social issues such as abortion and gay rights to eradicating poverty.
Who’s on your list? Vladimir Putin? Edward Snowden? This column votes for 16-year-old Pakistani youngster Malala Yousafzai as not only the most influential news-maker of 2013, but the most noble and courageous as well.
Malala is the young girl who was shot by the Neanderthal thinkers in the Taliban in retaliation for speaking out in support for the education of young women in the third world. Malala’s speech earlier this year at the United Nations definitely hit a nerve for many of these backward bigots who would like to bring us back to the Stone Age, or keep their culture in the Stone Age.
Malala’s bravery is a reminder to us all that a huge percentage of our brothers and sisters around the world continue to live in repressive environments. Moreover, women and young girls in many of these Muslim countries are treated as mere chattel.
Recently, Secretary of State John Kerry emerged from a meeting with Saudi princes into a press conference at which he was asked about the fact that women in Saudi Arabia to this day are prohibited from driving. Kerry, not wanting to offend his hosts and trying to play the role of a diplomat, soft-pedaled the issue. It is time that American leaders called out these tenth-century thinkers around the world, especially our nominal allies, on how they treat women.
This is a golden opportunity for Republican leaders to join Malala and speak out forcefully in support of women’s rights throughout the world. Furthermore, it is an opportunity for our leaders to distinguish real women’s rights issues from the fabricated issues peddled by the left. It is insulting to claim that women are oppressed in our country unless the government pays for their birth control.
A whole campaign was built around law student Sandra Fluke, who claimed falsely that she would have to pay thousands of dollars for her birth control while in law school, was furiously criticized, and then became a Democratic cause celebre. They used her to paint Republicans as anti-woman and to claim that Congress threatened to drag women back to a state of Taliban-like repression.
Is it not disgraceful to complain about made-up discrimination against women in this country when girls in other countries are aborted or killed after birth because their parents do not want to pay for their dowries when they get older? Does having to pay for a one dollar condom without a government grant compare to a woman being murdered in an “honor killing” by her family simply because she had premarital relations?
The fact that the left obsesses over the inability to get government subsidized contraceptives clearly indicates that their pontificating is purely political and partisan. If they truly cared about women, why are they relatively silent on the atrocities that are committed against them around the world?
Republicans can take the high ground on this issue both politically and morally. If Democrats will not speak out against the type of atrocities inflicted on Malala and millions of other girls like her, then Republicans should. Raising the issue in the upcoming presidential campaign will force the media to focus on this disgraceful behavior that has been swept under the rug for too long. Along with lighting a fire for positive change, it will have the extra benefit of repudiating the Democrats’ silly contention that Republicans are in a war against women. How foolish the left will look highlighting the Sandra Flukes of this world while ignoring the Malalas.
Steve Levy is President of Common Sense Strategies, a political and business consulting firm. He served as Suffolk County Executive 2004-2011, and as a NYS Assemblyman.