Lara Logan 2012 BGA Annual Luncheon Keynote Speech
“There is this narrative coming out of Washington for the last two years,” Logan said. It is driven in part by “Taliban apologists,” who claim “they are just the poor moderate, gentler, kinder Taliban,” she added sarcastically. “It’s such nonsense!”
Logan stepped way out of the “objective,” journalistic role. The audience was riveted as she told of plowing through reams of documents, and interviewing John Allen, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan; Afghan President Hamid Karzai, and a Taliban commander trained by al-Qaida. The Taliban and al-Qaida are teaming up and recruiting new terrorists to do us deadly harm, she reports.
She made a passionate case that our government is downplaying the strength of our enemies in Afghanistan and Pakistan, as a rationale of getting us out of the longest war. We have been lulled into believing that the perils are in the past: “You’re not listening to what the people who are fighting you say about this fight. In your arrogance, you think you write the script.”
Our enemies are writing the story, she suggests, and there’s no happy ending for us.
Do you know why you are supposed to stay mum about the intentional Muslim sacrilege but plead to be forgiven for the accidental American offense? Because you would otherwise have to observe that the Koran and other Islamic scriptures instruct Muslims that they are in a civilizational jihad against non-Muslims, and that it is therefore permissible for them to do whatever is necessary — including scrawl militant graffiti on their holy book — if it advances the cause. Abdul Sattar Khawasi — not a member of al-Qaeda but a member in good standing of the Afghan government for which our troops are inexplicably fighting and dying — put it this way: “Americans are invaders, and jihad against the Americans is an obligation.”
Because exploiting America’s hyper-sensitivity to things Islamic advances the jihad, the ostensible abuse of the Koran by using it for secret communiqués is to be overlooked. Actionable abuse occurs only when the book is touched by the bare hands of, or otherwise maltreated by, an infidel.
As our great Iraqi ally Ayatollah Ali Sistani teaches, touching a kafir (“one who does not believe in Allah and His Oneness”) is to be avoided, because Islamic scripture categorizes infidels as equivalent to “urine, feces, semen, dead bodies, blood, dogs, pigs, alcoholic liquors,” and “the sweat of an animal who persistently eats filth.” That is what influential clerics — not al-Qaeda but revered scholars of Islamic law — inculcate in rank-and-file Muslims.
And they are not making it up. Sistani came upon this view after decades of dedicated scriptural study. In fact, to take just one telling example (we could list many, many others), the “holy” Koran we non-Muslims are supposed to honor proclaims (in Sura 9:28), “Truly the pagans are unclean . . . so let them not . . . approach the sacred mosque.” It is because of this injunction from Allah that non-Muslims are barred — not by al-Qaeda but by the Saudi Arabian government — from entering Mecca and Medina. Kafirs are deemed unfit to set their infidel feet on the ground of these ancient cities. You don’t like that? Too bad — grin and bear it . . . and, while you’re at it, surge up a few thousand more American troops to improve life in Kandahar.
No one underestimates the challenges of helping women become equal participants in a civil society only recently concocted. But allowing progress to recede shouldn’t be an option. Recent negotiations between the Karzai government and the Taliban, in which women’s rights could be diluted, should have all of us worried.
It is too bad, meanwhile, that we are restricted in these discussions by terminology that rings of cliche. “Women’s rights” sounds too much like debates about abortion and subsidized day care. What we’re really talking about is basic human rights. The freedom to work, to make decisions about one’s own life, to seek an education and to be safe to walk on the streets without a male escort. To be fully human, in other words.
Anything less is terrorism by another name. The insanity that sends jihadists to rain hell on civilized nations is the same that stones women to death for failing to comply with primitive norms of behavior.