Lauryn Oates is a human rights activist and development worker focused on education in conflict zones. She manages literacy, library, teacher training and school projects in Afghanistan, and has worked with agencies as diverse as UNICEF, the Nike Foundation, Global Rights, Womankind Worldwide, and Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan, among others. She holds a PhD in literacy education from the University of British Columbia, where she did research on local language teaching in Northern Uganda. She writes frequently in the Canadian media on gender, culture and human rights, and is a frequent public speaker.
I'm tired of pacifists. I'm not going to be polite around them anymore. I'm not going to be accommodating in polite society and pretend that while I differ, I respect the pacifist opinion. I don't. Pacifists are wrong, and this is why. Pacifism tolerates, even abets, terrorism and fascism -- and the war and violence that come from them.
I'm a white woman who has spent my life advocating for women's rights in Afghanistan. Unapologetic for my lack of shared ethnicity with those I have strived to defend, I've heard an array of logic-bending criticisms, from subtle critiques veiled in the buzzwords of post-modernism, like the suggestion that all development workers inherently occupy a 'hegemonic' position, to less creative and cruder name calling.
Identity politics, long well entrenched in the liberal arts circles of academia, have seemingly broken out of the confines of campus debates and critical theory textbooks, and emerged into the mainstream, suddenly becoming a heated theme in the media.
It would appear that this is a potent form of immunity, a kind of magical cloak that can make any crime, no matter how heinous, invisible to a certain kind of person pre-programmed to be sympathetic to anyone who uses the word "America" and "imperialism" in the same sentence.
Militaries come and go, regimes rise and fall. But the social change that comes from education is irreversible. Every teacher capable of inculcating curiosity in a young mind, every individual who persists in questioning, every student who learns new ideas and spreads them to others, is a menace to the Taliban's plans.
These sites of free thought threaten Islamo-fascists as much as the well-armed armies of their enemies do. And the Taliban's reasons for bombing the French Institute are the same as the Islamic State's reasons for targeting a concert hall, a sports stadium and restaurants in Paris.
Democracies must protect freedom of expression, which includes the right to blaspheme. Freedom of expression and the right to dissent is either for everybody or for nobody, or the principal falls apart entirely.
On January 7, I happened to be driving through the 11th arrondisement of Paris when I saw a police van jolt to a stop and a half dozen officers jump out and throw on bulletproof vests. My friend and I...
It was strange to receive the news in a country where terror is an every day occurrence, that a deranged jihadist had shed blood on Canadian soil, rampaging through our normally peaceful capital, on the heels of another attack days earlier in Montreal. I knew, too, that the people of Afghanistan would have sound advice to offer Canadians.
I have seen firsthand the incredible transformations that have taken place in Afghanistan over the past decade. Wherever your views stand on Canada's participation in NATO's mission in Afghanistan, the available evidence shows that without a doubt, life for most Afghans is dramatically better today than it was under Taliban rule
At the end of March, Canadian military personnel will leave Afghanistan. That is too soon. As the second largest contributing nation to the training mission after the U.S., Canada's contributions to this capacity development are too valuable to withdraw this close to the finish line. Canada should renew its training mission for another term, and continue contributing to the Afghan mission in an area in which it clearly excels. Canada should stay, and continue to add value to the effort of training and educating Afghan soldiers and police. We have given too much and come too far to walk out this close to the finish line, and with so much progress at stake.
The challenges that remain in Afghanistan are significant and they are copiously documented elsewhere and do not require repeating here. But the challenges should not overshadow the progress, and what can be concluded from the state of affairs in Afghanistan today is that Afghanistan is far better off today than it was in in 2001.
The most revealing moment of Russell Brand's Newsnight interview is when Paxman asks what his revolution will be like. Brand begins his response: "Well I'll tell you what it won't be like." This response, which knows not what it wants and only what it doesn't want, is indicative of what I've come to think of as Che Activism.
Perhaps the greatest tragedy of all is how little much of the world knows about the tremendous progress made in Afghanistan over the past decade, and just how much is at stake. This is not yet another chapter in an unending story of a country perpetually on the brink of self-implosion.
I've been ashamed here and there over some of the output that comes out of my latest alma mater, the University of British Columbia (like this and this and this and this), all of it belonging deep wit...
Would someone who thinks that the U.S. is deserving of violence on its own soil think the same way if they lost a child in the Boston bombing? Would this misplaced empathy with the terrorists still work if one's own legs were blown off by shrapnel? When Peter Mansbridge asked Liberal leader Justin Trudeau what he would do, as prime minister, in the immediate aftermath of an attack like the one in Boston, Trudeau said that "we have to look at the root causes." But the root cause is only depravity. The line between seeking to understand this depravity, and seeking to justify it, is fine and must be tread upon with care.