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Behind the Lines: The Courage of Malala Yousafzai

Published October 22, 2012 8:19 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Welcome to Behind the Lines, a weekly conversation with Salt Lake Tribune cartoonist Pat Bagley and BYU economist Val Lambson.

Lambson: You know I am a fan of your work even when I disagree, which is of course most of the time. On occasion, however, you transcend politics and draw a cartoon that is truly great. This is one of those occasions. (Also, I am pretty tired of discussing the election. Can't it be over already?)

Bagley: Both of us sing from the same hymnal when it comes to the courage and hopes of Malala Yousafzai. This 15-year-old Pakistani girl simply wanted to learn, and for other girls like her to have the opportunities that education affords. The world is repulsed by the medieval mindset of the people that want her dead.

Lambson: This underscores the importance of government based on individual rights. This is certainly not inconsistent with religion in general or mainstream Islam in particular. Bret Stephens (Wall Street Journal (9/19/2012) wrote, "A principled defense of free speech could start by quoting the Quran: 'And it has already come down to you in the Book that when you hear the verses of Allah [recited], they are denied [by them] and ridiculed; so do not sit with them until they enter into another conversation.' In this light, the true test of religious conviction is indifference, not susceptibility, to mockery."

Bagley: You can be the first Libertarian missionary to go and instruct the natives in Pakistan's tribal region about civil society.

Lambson: Which raises the interesting question of what our responsibility is to the natives in Pakistan's tribal region. Of course, you understand that I don't believe our government ought to be involved in missionary efforts, libertarian or otherwise, that involve arms or troops or money. I would have no objection to our President, or anyone for that matter, instructing the natives in Pakistan's tribal region about civil society.

Bagley: If Pakistan is going to be a place where girls have a right to an eduction, Pakistanis are going to have to want to effect that change. It's their country, after all. In the meantime perhaps we should be concerned with reactionary tribal areas closer to home where knowledge and science are denigrated, like Fox News.

Lambson: You just can't help it, can you? Perhaps the best thing we can do for girls in Pakistan is to show, by example, that tolerance of all peaceful religions and creeds in a context of personal freedom and responsibility is consistent with maintenance of an ordered and prosperous society.

Bagley: Not nearly as pithy as "freedom through firepower". See the problem? So long as Americans mistake ideology for knowledge they are going to continually be surprised when they invade countries and discover that they are full of foreigners. Perhaps we should follow Malala's example and open a book. Travel would be good, too. Some airy-fairy liberal once wrote "...nothing so liberalizes a man and expands the kindly instincts that nature put in him as travel and contact with many kinds of people." Oh, wait, that was Mark Twain.

Last week's Top Comment goes to plainview2: When you think about it Death stars do equal jobs.

General Eisenhower must be rolling over in his grave.