Special Report

Malala versus Sandra

What a nation of plunderers we have become!

By 10.16.12

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Malala Yousafzai can't speak for herself, and it remains to be seen whether she ever will again. For the crime of going to school -- and blogging about it -- she was shot in the head by a Taliban assassin while in her school bus.

Yousafzai, now 14, knew the risk she was taking when at the age of 11 and under a pen name ("Gul Makai") she began posting an online diary which then appeared on the BBC's website under the banner "Diary of a Pakistani schoolgirl." This followed the Taliban's 2007 overrunning of the Swat Valley where she lives, including the destruction of hundreds of schools for girls.

On Monday, Malala was flown to England for care, perhaps as much to protect her from another near-certain assassination attempt as to get better medical treatment than is available in Pakistan.

Malala's closest friend, Shazia Ramzan, was also shot by the Taliban assassin. Fortunately, her wounds, in her shoulder and hand, were not life-threatening. Shazia is giving voice to the millions of girls like herself and Malala, taking on a similarly brave mantle. In a weekend interview with the UK's Daily Mail newspaper, Shazia said "[Malala] will recover and we will go back to school and study together again."

I intend no hyperbole by suggesting that this sort of bravery is rarely seen anywhere, at any time. It is of the same character as our Founding Fathers who signed a Declaration of Independence which concluded "And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor." They did this knowing that they were likely -- as they were taking on the mightiest military power ever known -- to lose the first two, along with the lives of those they loved most.

Preserving their honor in pursuit of their noble goals was of paramount importance to those brave men. Their success in keeping not only their honor but their lives is one of the most remarkable David versus Goliath stories in history.

Although the rest of today's story is not yet written, much the same can be said of Malala and Shazia who -- utterly more defenseless than the Americans were in 1776, and aware of the truly brutal nature of their oppressors -- have proven their willingness to risk their lives to make a statement about what is effectively an American principle: All people are created equal.

The courage of these girls, and now of the many Pakistanis publicly supporting them, in their efforts to ensure true fundamental freedom, stands in stark contrast to today's American liberal and feminist activists.

I was struck by the pettiness, the sense of entitlement, of whiney liberals when, on the same day that I read the interview with Shazia, I saw an ad released by the Obama campaign complaining that Mitt Romney opposes federal funding of Planned Parenthood and that he threatens "access to birth control." The female narrator says, "He'll cut it off…he'll cut us off." (I can't help but wonder if there's a subtle John Wayne Bobbitt image intended in the first half of that statement; the anger of the narrator seems positively Lorena-like.)

Similarly, Democrat activist Cecile Richards, in her role as the president of Planned Parenthood's political operation, said at the Democratic National Convention that Republicans "want to end access to birth control." Obviously, this claim is false; indeed it is essentially impossible. Yet Sandra Fluke -- also invited to the DNC -- along with Richards is making a living on it. And Barack Obama is trying to keep his job with it.

This subject has been covered enough that we don't need to relitigate it here. Suffice it to say that what these leftists want -- and what they have largely gotten through Obamacare -- is not "access" to these things, but government funding for them which is to say that they want taxpayers to pay for their "reproductive services" whether that means medical tests, contraceptives, or abortions.

As someone who is pro-choice, I say this: What they want is not liberty. It is not equality. It is not justice. It is what Frédéric Bastiat in his seminal work, The Law, called "legalized plunder." If you will permit an extended quote:

Man can live and satisfy his wants only by ceaseless labor; by the ceaseless application of his faculties to natural resources. This process is the origin of property.

But it is also true that a man may live and satisfy his wants by seizing and consuming the products of the labor of others. This process is the origin of plunder.

Now since man is naturally inclined to avoid pain — and since labor [RGK: no pun intended as we discuss maternity] is pain in itself — it follows that men will resort to plunder whenever plunder is easier than work. History shows this quite clearly. And under these conditions, neither religion nor morality can stop it….

It is impossible to introduce into society a greater change and a greater evil than this: the conversion of the law into an instrument of plunder.

What are the consequences of such a perversion? It would require volumes to describe them all. Thus we must content ourselves with pointing out the most striking.

In the first place, it erases from everyone's conscience the distinction between justice and injustice.

No society can exist unless the laws are respected to a certain degree. The safest way to make laws respected is to make them respectable. When law and morality contradict each other, the citizen has the cruel alternative of either losing his moral sense or losing his respect for the law. These two evils are of equal consequence, and it would be difficult for a person to choose between them.

What a nation of plunderers we have become!

Feminists (or is that term passé?) might argue that their ability to campaign for free birth control and government-funded abortions is simply a sign of the progress that a prior century of civil rights work has allowed, now that women's rights really are equal (some might argue superior) to men's in American society.

But unlike a right to vote or buy property, there can be no right to something which is to be provided, whether through their labor or their money, by others. More than 600,000 Americans died in our Civil War to end "rights" such as those.

There can be no right to taxpayer-subsidized (or employer-subsidized) birth control, abortion, or any other medical service or product. This is particularly true for claims by the non-indigent for products or services that are only needed due to voluntary behavior on their part. (Medicare is a trickier moral question in the sense that people have, at least in theory, paid into the system in advance.)

Sandra Fluke and her ilk are no better than muggers; they just try to get government to hold the gun for them. When I say to these women "pay for your own damn birth control! (or get your boyfriends or husbands to)," it's not because I object to birth control. It is because I object to the assertion that their desires and voluntarily-taken risks are my financial responsibility.

It's not just birth control, of course. Others among the Democratic faithful campaign for free or subsidized college education (including for non-citizens), home ownership, television and radio (PBS/NPR/Big Bird), and home weatherization, just to name a few.

As I hear the looters and the moochers argue that what is mine is theirs, that they have a right to have their wants satisfied by plundering whatever financial success others might achieve, I cannot help but think of the contrasting courage of Malala and Shazia who are risking their own lives to make a true stand for equality.

And I cannot help but wonder: Do Democrats really think that large numbers of American women (and perhaps many American men) believe, during a period of high unemployment and declining national incomes, during a time when many wonder how they will feed or educate their children, during a time when our enemies are acting boldly and our allies wonder if we can be trusted, that this election is about who must pay for birth control pills which, for most women, are available at Target, Wal-Mart, and many supermarkets, for $9/month?

And if Democrats truly believe that, is there any hope for America, at least as Washington, Jefferson and Madison understood it, if it turns out that they are right?

Malala and Shazia, two young girls scarred for life by a Taliban assassin, have risked -- and nearly lost -- everything in a fight for equality, a fight to go to school just like the boys do, a fight to be given the opportunity to learn and thrive and succeed.

Their heroism stands in opposition to the money-grubbing demands of American liberals whose fight is not for equality or freedom -- both of which abound in our nation -- but rather for using government force to make others pay for their wants.

While Malala and Shazia are fighting at ultimate peril for the right to be responsible for their own lives, Sandra Fluke and President Barack Obama are fighting to shift responsibility to others (a daily activity for Obama, to be sure, as noted here, here and here).

It is a rare and sad day indeed when Americans can learn a lesson about morality from a remote Taliban-infested valley in Pakistan. Yet here we are.

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About the Author
Ross Kaminsky is a self-employed trader and investor and is a senior fellow of the Heartland Institute. He is the host of The Ross Kaminsky Show on Denver's NewsRadio 850 KOA on Saturday mornings from 6 AM to 9 AM. You can reach Ross by e-mail at rossputin(at)rossputin(dot)com.