Thugs, Mobs And Education

The news this week has been dominated by the Lara Logan story. Ms. Logan was the subject of   the most popular post in FRI history which can be found here. Reactions to the news that Lara was subjected to “a brutal and sustained assault and beating” have cost at least one knucklehead his job when he tweeted dismissively about what exactly those seven words mean. We don’t know what happened to Ms. Logan that day and it will be up to Lara Logan to set the record straight which is what some in the media are calling on her to do. You can read another account of a woman from the international media covering the same story on the same day at the same time here.   As she points out she was lucky, she was scared and I doubt she will ever place herself in a similar position. Ms. Logan has my heartfelt sympathy as does every human victim of mob violence. The specifics of the assault aren’t interesting because there is nothing for us to learn from them. Large crowds celebrating the overthrow of a repressive government are inherently dangerous in all times and in all places. Reasonable people avoid them.

What gets my blood boiling about this story is that CBS sat on the story for five days and only released it when other news outlets were about to do the same. I have no idea why CBS sat on the story and suspect it has more to do with the report that the crowd was yelling “Jew, Jew, Jew” then any concerns for Ms. Logan’s privacy. CBS has an agenda and when confronted with facts running counter to that agenda it reacts like every rich, powerful, arrogant, liberal organization in the world; it ignores the story or spins the details.

Navy Commander Martin Sepulveda with Zarmina and her sister Sharifa. Zarmina who is 12 or 13 years old is the local school teacher
Navy Commander Martin Sepulveda with Zarmina and her sister Sharifa. Zarmina who is 12 or 13 years old is the local school teacher

Which brings us to the protests by the Wisconsin state teachers union. If you want to read some professional liberal spin on the topic here it is from CBS news. If you want the truth you need to hit the blogs; Wisconsin native Ann Althouse is a good place to start and you can find her blog here. The people of Wisconsin, after years of democratic fiscal insanity. decided to bring the adults back to power. The new Governor, Scott Walker, introduced a bill that will dismantle the 50 year-old collective bargaining agreement for public employee unions. It is not like he has any alternatives; every majority democratic state in the union and most of the European Union has the identical problem; gold plated obligations to state employees and no money to pay for them.

I find the reaction from the teachers unions, public employee unions, and state democratic representatives to be repugnant. The crowds descending on Madison behaved like a bunch of thugs which is in stark contrast to the Tea Party movement. I’ll leave the political commentary to others but I have to point something out about the American educational system. The vast majority of state teachers union members should be fired because they have clearly failed to provide an education to our children. I’ll let Mark Styen make the point:

I think if you had to name one institution, which is probably the biggest structural defect in Western societies right now, and the one that places the biggest question mark over the future of Western civilization, if there was one institution you needed to take apart, it would be the education system.

There is no education system in Afghanistan but there are millions of kids who dream of becoming literate. So let me tell you a remarkable story about a little girl with an aptitude for languages and a desire to better herself and her   community through education.

Sgt Barbra Rangel, Zarmina and
Cpl Jessica Costilla, Zarmina, Sgt Barbra Rangel, and Sharifa

The Marines have built a school in Naw Zad but there are no female teachers in the area. The local people want their daughters to receive an education so a brave little girl has stepped in to fill the gap. Every evening at 1900 hours (7:00 pm) Zarmina’s father brings her and her sister to the Marine combat outpost and drops her off with the Female Engagement Team (FET). They spend an hour or so going over a reading, writing or a math lesson and the next day Zarmina teaches those lessons to other girls in Naw Zad.

I asked Zarmina’s father if I could put her picture and story in the blog and he proudly granted permission. Zarmina and her family are all in. The Marines came here; drove the Taliban out and told the people they will protect them for as long as it takes to bring lasting peace. If we pull out early the fate which awaits Zarmina and those like her from the Taliban is too horrible to contemplate. It will make whatever the mob in Egypt inflicted on Lara Logan seem tame in comparison. Zarmina and her sister have bet everything on the Americans seeing this through to the bitter end. The Marines are game – they won’t quit but they don’t have a vote in how this turns out. It is politicians like those in Wisconsin who abandoned their posts to thwart the will of the people who will decide if we stay or go. Recent history regarding peoples in war torn lands who have bet their lives on America sustaining her commitment to them is not positive. The odds are Zarmina and her father bet on the wrong side.

If you believe in prayer send a few extra ones topside for Zarmina and the children of Afghanistan. With friends like us those kids are going need all the help they can get.

23 Replies to “Thugs, Mobs And Education”

  1. Ain’t it the truth brother, to get real information, ya gotta hit the blogs… and DO YOUR OWN research !! And not take the spoon fed crap they call news on abccbs(m)nbc..and yes, even fox !!

    “Every evening at 1900 hours (7:00 pm) Zarmina’s father brings her and her sister to the Marine combat outpost and drops her off with the Female Engagement Team (FET). They spend an hour or so going over a reading, writing or a math lesson and the next day Zarmina teaches that lesson to the girls in the Naw Zad school.”

    This is just so cool, I don’t know what to say, why cant we FLIP anyone who will volunteer to be a teacher $60. a month…. can’t some cool foundation make this an effort… the other things villages r e a l l y need are midwives, with some minimal medical training, and a clinic kit !!

    Simple things that would make a HUGE difference in the so called Hearts n Minds gig !

    Thanks for another gr8 rant TimSan !

  2. I just love writing like this.
    The unions give zero return on the money a person is forced to fork over. Our son got one of the few jobs in town –at a Supermarket. He had to join the union. He pays $32/ month and for this he supports a big office with a lot of employees. He is a part time student, making $8.50 an hour and he is lucky if he can get 25 hours a week. This week he received a note saying they will probably strike. So much for negotiation skills. If union leaders were put in charge of shuras, they’d get us all killed.

    Love the story of the little girl. She’s a real hero and so is her family. I know that if we were to pull out, she and her family would be target #1.

  3. The sad part about this most recent blog is that your attention, your focus in now back here on events that drive away the energies those warriors at the tip of the spear fighting the bad guys truly need. You knew this was coming when our community organizer, Mr. Agitator Supreme, a trained lawyer only, became the leader of our executive branch of government.

    If you didn’t, trust me, I knew what was in store! Wire up your Sh*t, sooner rather than later!

  4. I am reminded of what the world was like in colleges and universities decades ago (when I was an undergraduate). Think back: the schools of forestry, agriculture, and education each had a special quality that made them the subject of jokes on campus, and it was generally that their students were too dumb to go to “real” college.

    True, “Aggies” and “Lumberjacks” weren’t interested in Great Books and Philosophy, but they were attending what were essentially advanced technical and vocational colleges, to learn skills and knowledge required for their adult lives. No shame there.

    But “Ed” majors were truly too stupid to get a BA in Liberal (or any other) Arts; ask anyone who went to college back then.

    Those numbskulls went on to become teachers and (even worse) “administrators.” Now, 30 years later, our educational system is managed, directed and perpetuated by several generations of students who should never have been in college, and didn’t even try to get a simple BA degree 30 years ago or more.

    Before you erupt, this is not to belittle those dedicated teachers everywhere who enter the system for the best reasons, who endure the budget cuts and bureaucracy, and struggle to properly teach our children. It’s not their fault that their bosses were the dimmest bulbs and slowest thinkers on every university campus that ever had a “School of Education.” IMO.

  5. Thanks for keeping the faith, and thanks for this blog. To me, these are incredibly hopeful signs of what’s possible.
    ‎”In the long run, radical Islam is going to be defeated by the emancipation of women.” – Ayaan Hirsi Ali

  6. The sad thing is that N0bama and crew will leave these poor people high and dry, claiming success in order to further the political agendas and careers. H Clinton has now come out of hiding again in an effort to put fear into the hearts of the Taliban. Now it is being surfaced that ‘secret meetings’ with top level Taliban commanders are now underway. And now religious leaders in Kabul are flexing their muscles making degrading remarks about the US Forces here in their country likening them to pigs and gorillas. The muslim brotherhood is gaining remarkable legitimate power in many middle eastern countries. It goes on and on. It is refreshing to read of the Marines and their efforts down there. Isn’t it amazing how troops when they actually get out from behind the walls of the COPs and FOBs can have such an impact? Prayers are on the way Baba Tim, lots of them.

  7. Calm yourselves! Obama & crew will do nothing over the next couple years to these kids that’s not already planned to be done. No one in the legislative finagling in DC has seriously recommended cuts to the militaries cash for the war. The July 2011 withdrawal will be a few thousand big base troops.

    Obama has turned out to be a pro-defense pro-war president. Be happy. His defense establishment is bigger then war monger Bushes and he’s terrified of cutting it without a Republican lead. Witness Gate’s pathetic $ 78 billion in cuts over five years proposal. 2.1%.

    And be even happier. Obama is likely one and done and he’ll be replaced by a typical Republican who thinks the US is in dire danger of being overwhelmed because it’s defenses have been under funded.

    I guess it’s possible that Obama wins re-election and then springs the news that we’re done with colonial adventures and that defense will take a huge cut. Where’s Oliver Stone when you need him?

    Unless America undergoes a revolution and some sort of third conservative anti-war party seizes the House of Representatives in the 2012 election everyone’s rice bowel in Afghanistan is safe until at least 2014 or the next financial meltdown whichever is first.

    Thus end empires.

  8. Tim,

    You are absolutely on the money in your comments on Wisconsin where I live!

    There was a (quiet) Revolution in Wisconsin in November. The people elected a Republican Governor and the Republicans took majorities in both houses of the legislature. In addition, Russ Feingold, a decent man with passe politics, was shown the door and the G.O.P. picked up several U.S. House seats. Hardly anyone noticed then but they have now.

    Madison did not get the message initially, suffused as it is with left wing students, academics, and government employees of every sort.

    Wisconsin is a very highly taxed state. Property taxes are so high here that many older people cannot keep their homes. Schools have been lavishly supported. The state has been hostile to business with the result that the well educated students leave A.S.A.P. for states where there are jobs. The population is greying.

    So the people said “Enough!” The importance of what is going on here is reflected by Obama’s intruding himself into the situation, ditto Nancy Pelosi. And Jesse Jackson has come as well. The left wants to negate democracy and will use every means as their disposal.

  9. 1. Cringe when I read stories like that of Zarmina and her family.
    2. Have been part of a couple of instances where the USG has failed to follow through on blood obligations.
    3. Results: reeducation camps, unmarked graves, messes in the village center as a warning to anyone else who would consider casting their lot with us.
    4. If you’ve got a conscience, the pain stays with you always.
    5. To the movers and shakers in DC, everyone is a card board cut-out.
    6. There are two parties at risk in your story.
    7. Zarmina and family are in mortal peril if we fail to stand by them.
    8. The FET NCO’s face other issues, when programs they’ve invested themselves in are scrapped and bad things happen to people they have worked with and care about.
    9. Zarmina has to know the consequences of and likelihood of intransigence on our part.
    10. Is that “Insha Allah” or immense courage?
    V/R JWest

  10. With 40% of the teachers “out sick”, the governor should declare a state of emergency because clearly there’s some kind of outbreak. He should send police/national guard to the houses of the teachers who called in sick to make sure they don’t leave until they’ve been checked out by competent doctors and he should block all public demonstrations by anyone connected to the teachers in order to prevent the disease from spreading to children. (Gotta get that “It’s for the children” thing in, just in case.)

    As for the rest, I spent two years in the Peace Corps in Albania and I remain, to this day, awed by how fast the Albanians could pick up English using techniques that our educational system has proven are impossible (rote memorization and practice) mostly because those techniques require individual effort, not teachers and are pretty damned cheap. Some of my older friends (in their 40’s and 50’s at the time) learned English by secretly listening to Voice of America and by reading books that they kept hidden under the floor. Getting caught doing either would have landed them in jail.

    I truly admire anyone who tries to learn when their stomachs are empty and they may someday be punished. Puts the lie to all those helicopter parents worried about getting their kids into good kindergartens so they can begin the path to Harvard while bumping up against an educational system more interested in self-esteem than self-learning.

    Some days, part of me wishes there was a way I could get a job that lets me help out in Afghanistan but I have no idea how to even begin looking. With students like those in the post, there really is hope in that place.

  11. Well the author is cool……Harlan seems to be the anti poon in a party of dudes and chicks having a good time poining out what is and what isn’t…….Harlan is the tutrd bomb of the joint

  12. Love the attention you’ve paid to this girl and her family, and the lengths they’re willing to go to to give their community a future through education. It’s obvious that Afghani people want the same as anyone: a chance to survive and thrive. We need to support that effort in concise, effective ways.

    I know that Karzai is trying to get the PRT’s out. My question becomes, “Then what?” I can’t help but realize that we still maintain bases on both German and Japanese soil, and that the post-WWII reconstruction efforts in those countries took years of concentrated, concerted effort with the locals, to find out what they needed, and find a way to provide those needs that would soon become truly self-sustaining.

    I wonder what sort of difference it might make to send a second wave of folks to Afghanistan… a wave of doctors, teachers and engineers. Would a ‘Surge’ of folks like this be the right direction for our foreign policy to take? Building roads, bridges and powerplants… schools and clinics and hospitals… farm projects and fruit orchards and veterinary clinics…and then staffing them on a rotation, maybe as a huge Peace Corps project, or in partnership with NGO’s, until the local populace was up-to-speed and able to succeed in running the institutions themselves. Why am I not hearing this idea from anyone here at home? It seems pretty obvious to me that winning hearts and minds begins with winning stomachs and livelihoods. Thus far, we seem to have put in less effort in this direction that the DOT in my home state puts into yearly road repair.

    I can’t help but think this might be the most efficient way to spend our money, if re-building Afghanistan and making it a proud haven for freedom and self-determination is truly what we’re after there. Start with the minds and thought processes of Afghan youth, and give them the mental tools to help rebuild their nation from within.

    I think Americans, here in our living rooms stateside, in front of our computers and satellite news, have come to have a drastically warped sense of what re-building a war-torn nation entails. Blogs like this one, and the efforts of folks like babatim and company are the real source for the juicy details we lack from other sources. Men and women, with boots on the ground, who are seeing it first hand.

    Keep asking the pertinent questions over there, and passing on the intel. We’re not all always on the same page, even in the Home of the Brave… but anyone who takes the time to do some research, read some blogs, talk to some Vets, and listen to the voices we can hear coming from Afghanistan can’t help but have hope. This blog has shown it again and again in the faces and stories of the people themselves.

    Our prayers to Zarmina and her family, and to the rest of her community, school, province and country. Let’s do our utmost to do right by these folks, and live up to the promise. Keep up the good work, babatim, and check your six. We’re still here reading.

  13. IU have in my possession a picture of a Marine Corporal in an FLRB or IBS to some. This guy served in WWII, Korea (picture) and was killed in Da Nang. He was just a Marine. His pic was supplied by a guy I know who was in the FLRB with him. Off North Korea, reboarding the delivery sub.
    These are the Marines who wrote on Small Wars. You have inherited the spirit they fostered even as they followed those before them.
    T have some experience in the matters of which you speak. All of those matters. And for what it is worth you are on it.
    I have a VERY short prayer list. You are on it.

  14. There is no evidence that development reduces insurgency when done by foreigners. Take a look at Jalalabad for an example on how development, economic activity and reductions in violence aren’t linked.

    “Hearts and minds” was the term the British coined (no pun intended) in Malaya to describe the concentration camps they established for Chinese farmers to prevent them from feeding guerrillas.

    Trying to reduce political violence in Afghanistan by buying the good will of Afghans hasn’t worked but it has fueled corruption both in Afghanistan and the west and it does fund a large portion of the insurgency.

  15. So one day I’m getting back from a patrol and who do I find in my hooch? Baba Tim, retired Marine and former CO of 1Bn/8Mar Bravo Co. The same Marine Battalion that presently owns the battle space. Too tired to question this not entirely reformed Marine and truth teller, I observed him around the AO for a couple of days before realized he is the real deal. I’m thankful that our “missions” crossed paths.

    My journey to Now Zad began when I got benched from my original mission dropping bombs. I’ve read some of the responses to this article; the importance isn’t lost on most of the responses.

    There are no easy answers. Afghanistan has always been a tough place for the West to do business. Either way the story of Zarmina and her family help personalize where the US/NATO is at in the latest chapter of the Great Game.

    I don’t buy the hearts and minds stuff; we’re just here on the ground, trying to do the right thing. But as Tim so eloquently states, we don’t have a vote.

    While more commentary contrasting what was done versus what could have or should have been done, might seem appropriate … what matters most is that you follow blogs like Tim’s and become part of the dialogue.
    Trust me, the guys and gals who dodge bullets for a living are well served when those who will determine our fate are well aware of this very public discourse.

    It’s late and I apologize for poor spelling or dis-jointed thoughts. I only ask the you Keep the Faith.


  16. I cherish the information you’ve been providing from Afghanistan. However, I’m always baffled at the Right’s hatred of unions and public school teachers.

  17. Tim – I do not sign in and comment in this forum as often as I should, but know that I’m an avid reader and follower of your insightful writing. I pass it along to all those whom I feel may enjoy and/or benefit from your perspective on events, both in Afghanistan and elsewhere in the world where the circumstances/material may warrant. This particular post touched me with respect to the risks the girls/women are taking there to better themselves, and their country. I certainly pray that WE will see things through, and that the risks they are taking will never be in vain…. Regretfully, I do not sense commitment to purpose from our elected “leaders”. Rather, I sense a commitment to re-election. Which as you know, does not necessarily (if ever) correlate to mission objectives.

    I do not know who JWest is, but I always seem to be in agreement with his/her (I’m hedging a bet on “his”) comments…

    Keep up the great work brother, and stay safe.


  18. Are we really spending tens of billions monthly in rural Afghanistan to end misogyny?

    “Sending little girls to school” is normally the fall back “aim” of the non-US members of NATO who can’t really explain what security improvements their missions hope to achieve. The other popular selling point is “stopping opium cultivation” which is nice but unrelated to the social problems (largely in the UK)that lead to so much drug abuse. As usual “the war on drugs” simply raises the profits to be made.

    Is education of the Muslim masses the key to stopping terrorism? No and probably will achieve exactly the opposite if Messrs bin Laden, Atta and Dr. Zawahari are examples of what we can expect from the combination of a good education, Islam and long held grievances against the west.

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