June 15, 2016
More bodies have piled up due to the glut of lunatics on the American scene. Following the latest mass shooting (and in a feeble attempt to address the certain anti-Islamic hysteria that typically follows a mass shooting by Muslims) I did a simple search of mass gun deaths from 2008 to the present I came up with this:
50 dead Orlando- Muslim lunatic
14 dead San Bernardino- two Muslim lunatics
3 dead Colorado Springs- White lunatic
9 dead Roseburg Oregon- White lunatic
5 dead Chatanooga- Palestinian/Jordanian lunatic
9 dead Charleston- White lunatic
6 dead Isla Vista CA- White lunatic
3 dead Fort Hood- Muslim American lunatic
12 dead Washington- Black American Navy lunatic
5 dead Santa Monica American/Lebanese lunatic
27 dead Newtown- White lunatic
3 dead Brookfield WI- Black lunatic
6 dead Minneapolis- White lunatic
6 dead Oak Creek- White lunatic
12 dead-Aurora- White lunatic
7 dead Oakland- Korean Christian lunatic
8 dead Seal Beach- White lunatic
6 dead Tucson- White lunatic
8 dead Manchester CT- Black lunatic
3 dead Huntsville AL- White lunatic
13 dead Binghamton NY- Vietnamese lunatic
5 dead Dekalb- White lunatic
8 dead Omaha- White lunatic
32 dead Blacksburg VA- Korean lunatic
Total dead 260 (and that’s only back to 2008).
Now if you crunch those numbers of gun-dead corpses, in terms of melanin or faith you get this (note: it’s possible some of those white lunatics were also Christian lunatics):
108 dead by white lunatics
77 dead by certain and possible Muslim lunatics
23 dead by black lunatics
52 dead by miscellaneous other lunatics
or: 42% dead by white lunatics, 30% by certain and possible Muslim lunatics, 9% by black lunatics, 20% by miscellaneous other lunatics
The most common element here is not ethnicity or religion, but guns. So you might argue that the 260 dead are the responsibility of NRA lunatics. And, if you insist upon adding the 3000 (more or less) 9/11 dead by Muslim lunatics, you’d have to fairly add the tens-of-thousands dead by American lunatics going to war in Iraq chasing the wrong perpetrators.
Editor’s note: Should we be concerned about faith-based lunacy? Yes, but across the board. Lunatics love their religions; after all, in what other sphere of human thought and activity can you acceptably justify your personal hate as the will of God?
June 5, 2016
OF all the students preparing to go to college this fall, perhaps none have faced a more hazardous journey than a young woman named Sultana. One measure of the hazard is that I’m not disclosing her last name or hometown for fear that she might be shot.
Sultana lives in the Taliban heartland of southern Afghanistan, and when she was in the fifth grade a delegation visited her home to warn her father to pull her out of school, or else she would have acid flung in her face. Ever since, she has been largely confined to her high-walled family compound — in which she has secretly, and perilously, educated herself.
“I’m unstoppable,” Sultana laughs, and it’s true: She taught herself English from occasional newspapers or magazines that her brothers brought home, in conjunction with a Pashto-English dictionary that she pretty much inhaled. When her businessman father connected the house to the internet, she was able to vault over her compound walls.
“I surrounded myself with English, all day,” she told me by Skype. Today her English is fluent, as good as that of some Afghan interpreters I’ve used.
Once she had mastered English, Sultana says, she tackled algebra, then geometry and trigonometry, and finally calculus BC. She rises about 5 a.m. and proceeds to devour calculus videos from Khan Academy, work out equations, and even read about string theory.
Sultana, now 20, says she leaves her home only about five times a year — each time, she must wear a burqa and be escorted by a close male relative — but online she has been reading books on physics and taking courses on edX and Coursera. I can’t independently verify everything Sultana says, but her story generally checks out. After reading a book on astrophysics by Lawrence M. Krauss, a theoretical physicist at Arizona State University, she reached him by Skype, and he says he was blown away when this Afghan elementary school dropout began asking him penetrating questions about astrophysics.
“It was a surreal conversation,” Krauss said. “She asked very intelligent questions about dark matter.”
Krauss has become one of Sultana’s advocates, along with Emily Roberts, an undergraduate at the University of Iowa who signed up for a language program called Conversation Exchange and connected with Sultana.
By Skype, Emily and Sultana became fast friends, and soon they were chatting daily. Moved by Sultana’s seemingly unattainable dream of becoming a physics professor, Emily began exploring what it would take for Sultana to study in the United States.
With Emily’s help, Sultana has been accepted by a community college in Iowa, with a commitment by Arizona State University to take her as a transfer student a year later. Emily started a website to raise money for Sultana’s university education.
Sultana reminds us that the greatest untapped resource around the globe isn’t gold or oil, but the female half of the population. Virginia Woolf wrote that if Shakespeare had had an equally talented sister, she never would have been able to flower — and Sultana is Shakespeare’s sister. Yet it’s also clear that internet connections can sometimes be a game changer.
Sultana’s family is wary of her passion for education but surrenders to her determination. “My mom said a lot of mouths will be open, a single girl going to the Christian world,” she said. “But I will die if they stop me.”
Unfortunately, the United States isn’t helping. Last month, the U.S. Embassy in Kabul rejected her application for a student visa. That happens all the time: Brilliant young men and women are accepted by American universities and then denied visas because, under U.S. law, they are seen as immigration risks.
(As a Muslim, Sultana would also be barred by Donald Trump’s proposed ban on Muslims. I asked her what she thought of Trump, and all she would say, with quiet dignity, was: “He thinks all Muslims are bad. It’s painful.”)
Michelle Obama has pushed an impressive campaign called Let Girls Learn, yet her husband’s administration has never seemed as enthusiastic, and America routinely denies visas that would actually let girls learn. The United States spends billions of dollars fighting terrorism by blowing things up; I wish we understood that sometimes the most effective weapon against terrorists isn’t a drone but a girl with a book.
The Taliban understand this: That’s why their fighters shot Malala Yousafzai in the head. If only we were as cleareyed as the Taliban about the power of girls’ education to transform societies.
Sultana now spends her days working on calculus equations, listening to Bon Jovi and doing household chores while listening to the BBC or self-help audiobooks. It also turns out that she is a longtime Times reader and gets my email newsletter. She’s now working her way through more serious reading: Kant’s “Critique of Pure Reason.”
Sultana has set up another appointment for a visa, for June 13. It won’t be Sultana who is tested but American policy itself. I’ll let you know what happens.