Thursday, December 27, 2007

Benazir Bhutto, 1953 - 2007

In pace requiescat, Benazir Bhutto. Whatever you were or weren't guilty of, you never deserved this. I suspect you were guilty of nothing more threatening than wishing and working for a fully democratic Pakistan.

Every so often I start to hope. I think, well, we've stopped doing this awful thing and we've pretty much eliminated that dreadful practice - then an incident like this one comes along and I realize, nope, the old demons are still strong. Will the human race ever reach a point where it can collectively agree to disagree?? Why is it always necessary to kill the people you disagree with? Why is it ever necessary to kill the people you disagree with? I know all the arguments; I just don't buy them.

Actually, 250-300 years ago, Christians were killing each other over what now look like minor theological points. After the Thirty Years' War devastated Europe, pretty much all the countries there decided simultaneously that they wouldn't go to war over that any more. There were still local spats over religion, but by the end of the 18th century, the various sects of Christianity had more or less agreed to disagree, and later wars were over "rational" things like land and politics. If you look at the history of Islam, it has never really had its equivalent of the Thirty Years' War; the trouble is, it may be having it now, between the Sunnis and the Shias. One of the leading suspects in the Bhutto assassination is the local Islamic fanatic movement, incorporating the Taliban and al Qaeda.

What really fries my potatoes over this, though, is my deep suspicion that Benazir Bhutto was killed because she was a woman who wielded power. That her actual political positions, her actual intents, were of less important to her killers than the fact that she was a woman, wielding great political power, in a world where (they believe) women should stay home and keep their faces covered and their mouths shut. She had ruled the country before; she could have done so again; and for that alone, in the minds of these fanatics, she had to die. Of all the things I find intolerable about the Islamic extremists, their attitude toward women annoys me most - if only because it was not the Prophet's attitude! They are taking their patriarchal, tribal customs and pasting them on Mohammed and claiming he told them to do these things, and they lie. I'm not even an Islamic scholar and I know this, just from listening to real Islamic scholars discuss the issue.

Of course, she could also have been assassinated by one of Musharraf's boys, simply because she was probably going to win the election. You never know. But I hope we find out. She cared about her country and worked hard for it, and she ultimately died for it - she deserves to have the truth about her death known.

Last fall, among other U.C. scholarship candidates, I interviewed a charming young woman from Pakistan; I can't help but think of her, and grieve with her over the damage to her country from these squabbling ideologues. When will they ever learn? Oh, when will they ever learn?

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous7:33 PM

    Did you read Arianna Huffington's commentary on the Huffington Post today? I don't have the link, but I think you can just google the post and read today's.

    So long as nations are driven by greed rationalized as vital national interests, which are now mostly corporate interests, there will be war, and as long as there are wars, both overt and covert, hot and "cold," there will be fertile ground for all the other debacles that war spawns and/or makes room for.

    Anonymous David