Feb. 18, 2009
You have to love The Washington Post. It manages to avoid calling liberals liberals. Why? Because the politically correct name for liberals is now progressives. The governing assumption is that whatever liberals used to want was progress, and so if the American people are skittish about what liberals want, if they've had a bellyful of experience with many things liberal, it's better all around to call the people who want progress progressives.
If liberals have largely disappeared from the pages of the Post, however, conservatives haven't. The Post today carries a story about a horrific incident in Afghanistan. The beautiful young American was working at the village level there, trying to help the Afghan people, well, progress. Paula Lloyd worked as a contract employee of the U.S. Department of Defense. Her job was to learn as much as she could about village life in this ancient land. She wanted to help American and NATO forces fight against the Taliban. She wanted to help our troops avoid the "ugly American" label by becoming more culturally attuned to the Afghan people.
She worked for the DoD, and also for the UN and the U.S. Agency for International Development. Paula Lloyd was the kind of person who would rescue a blind dog that had been abandoned next to the highway. "She had a passion for the people of Afghanistan," said friends after she died.
Miss Lloyd had been asking villagers about the rising cost of fuel. She was wise enough not to shake hands with Afghan men, but she did have a friendly conversation with one villager who was carrying a jug of gasoline. He thanked her for coming to his village.
Then, suddenly on that bright, cold afternoon last November 4th, the Afghan man hurled gasoline on Miss Lloyd's face and chest and set her afire. As her guard pursued her attacker and killed him, Miss Lloyd, horribly burned, was airlifted to San Antonio Army Medical Center. There she died two months later.
The Post is unsure whether the dead attacker was a Taliban terrorist. Actually, they don't call him that. They call him a Taliban fighter. It would be culturally insensitive to suggest that a man who douses an unarmed woman with gasoline and sets her ablaze is anything less than a fighter. "The Afghan who set her on fire might have been a Taliban fighter following orders," the Post intones, "but he also might have been merely a conservative villager, influenced by Taliban propaganda that portrays Western soldiers as occupiers and Western women as immoral [emphasis added]."
Pressed for a word to describe how bad a man that Afghan was, the Post naturally falls back upon conservative. May I suggest to their progressive editors a better word? How about savage? Savage is not a racist designation. It describes brutal people by what they do. You can be a blond beast in an SS uniform with an advanced degree from the University of Heidelberg. When you do what this guy did, you're a savage. The word is properly defined in Merriam-Webster: 1 a: not domesticated or under human control : untamed <savage beasts> b: lacking the restraints normal to civilized human beings : fierce , ferocious <a savage criminal.
We can take comfort from the fact that many Afghans came forward to speak at Paula Lloyd's memorial services. Her family, her co-workers and her legions of friends honored her memory. She was loved and respected. Unless we are able to name the evil that would take such a promising young woman's life in so horrific a manner, our long term prospects in Afghanistan will not be hopeful. Unless we can agree that whatever this murderer was, he wasn't a conservative, our prospects won't even be hopeful in America.