Dayle Hadden wrote this article for CNN about Congolese rebels’ violent, repeated, and systematic rape of village women that you should all read in order to refresh your sense of horror and outrage at what is being happening in that region, acts and consequences vile enough to make one ill. Hadden:
Their pain is evident. A few women can barely walk or have to shuffle along with a large stick for support, as if they are very old — and in a way, they are. All these women have been violently raped.
I pass them as they wait to see the doctor. Puddles of liquid have collected under some of the women sitting on the courtyard benches. The smell of their urine hits me.
I catch the movement of balled up rags nervously crammed into their laps as they try to stop the flow.
I walk by with my eyes drawn downward. As I look up, I meet their eyes. They quickly look away, embarrassed that I have seen. I look away as well.
The women’s inability to control their bowels and urine comes from repeated rapes. The medical term is fistula. The walls of their uterus and bladder have been broken from repeated gang rapes by rebel soldiers, objects shoved roughly inside them and even guns fired into their vagina.
“A man with a gun can do whatever he wants,” Cecile Mulolo, the psychologist at Panzi tells me.
It’s 5 AM in Texas and I ought to be asleep. But this post, feeble as it is, demands to be written. I went to bed without doing so, needing the rest before another work day, but Hadden’s words won’t allow it.
A continent away, the Taliban’s Muslim terrorists executed a British woman working for Serve Afghanistan, a charity she represented in Kandahar. Her crime?
“We killed her because she was working for an organisation which was preaching Christianity,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said.
There’s a causal connection between the two events: the mad, hateful promotion of self against other, cocksure religious and tribal zealotry that literally demands the death of anyone and any social structure that conflicts with “the way”.
Michael recently published Kourosh Ziabari’s diatribe against freedom of choice in which he decried westerners’ right to choose any religion or none at all. Too much freedom, he implied, is a bad thing. He then went on with the pat Muslim harangue about the west’s crimes against Islam: the destruction of a few Korans, the Mohammed cartoons, etc., that we’ve all become familiar with.
It’s certainly within Ziabri’s rights as human being – inalienable rights, to most of us, though ironically not in his own mind – to hold and right about his opinions. But they are just that, as any given copy of the Koran is merely ink on paper, and it must be understood that his is very nearly the most gentle method of retribution in the arsenal of the truly intolerant. There are many others, some horribly cruel, that the enemies of freedom employ on a daily basis.
In response to my return post, Kaspar mocked me for advocating tolerance to the opposition while opposing the changes they desire. In a way his mocking is justified, but not in the way he thinks.
In the west, we enjoy a prosperous, almost peaceful social order that simply doesn’t exist in other parts of the world. Our bitter ideological battles, fierce as they seem, are trivial compared to the ludicrous extent to which zealots in the Congo, for instance, or in Afghanistan, will go to purge themselves of the other for fear that their kind will not survive on merit alone.
Unfortunately, it’s only rarely that a news report like Ms. Hadden’s penetrates into our consciousness and reminds us of the violent facts of life that are still predominate in many other parts of the world.
In that sense it is foolish to allow ourselves to be divided by the partisan debates over tax rates and the mechanisms for providing food and energy to our citizens. There is so little to argue about, in the grand scheme of things, that both the argument and tolerance for those on the other side seem trivial. In that sense Kaspar was correct to call me on it.
Yet nothing could be more essential than tolerance of the opposition to ensure that democratic and republican forms of government continue to exist and function as they ought. The collapse of functioning governments leads directly to atrocities in the Congo, in Afghanistan, and elsewhere. Is it too much to ask for civility? Or to accept defeat when you are in the minority and don’t get your way on a particular issue, even if your group is slighted, even legitimately?
I can only scowl in disbelief upon reading Hadden’s account of the Congolese women’s shattered bodies and souls. How can such a thing be allowed to happen? And how, given the assassination of charity workers in Afghanistan can men like Ziabari trumpet the fanciful moral superiority of their creed?
More than any other words I’ve ever read, Hadden’s article demonstrates the utter necessity of the U.S. – and all other western nations – to act as the world’s policeman in foreign lands such as Congo.
I’ve never seen it so clearly before, so I had to write it down.