Pam's Points: Saving girls, watching political double-talk and confirming a new chief

Pam's Points: Saving girls, watching political double-talk and confirming a new chief

May 13th, 2014 in Opinion Times

Women shout slogans during a rally calling on the government to rescue the school girls kidnapped from the Chibok Government secondary school in Abuja, Nigeria.

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

Save - and teach - all our girls

Imagine being awakened from sleep, kidnapped with some 275 classmates, dragged into vans amid gunfire, and driven off into the deep woods by men who believe that because you are a girl you shouldn't be able to read.

The men - part of a terrorist group in Nigeria that calls itself Boko Haram - says its goal is to impose stricter enforcement of the terrorists' interpretation of a Muslim sharia law they believe means women should be at home raising children and looking after their husbands, not at school learning to read and write.

This is not a new mentality; just a sad and ignorant one. In the South, the phrase used to be "keep them barefoot and pregnant." In the pre-Civil War days the attitude also applied to men of color, not just women. At its heart, this pathetic fear of women (or minorities) being educated is simply power control by so-called leaders who are too intellectually lazy to truly lead. Force becomes their only persuasion and negotiation.

Now imagine still being a captive in this nightmare for a month. Imagine being the parent of one of these girls. Can anyone imagine this kind of thing dragging on here (or anywhere) for a month if these girls had been students at GPS?

It's true that Nigeria officials clearly have less urgency than governments here would have. Meanwhile, the United States, England and other countries have offered help, yet still the girls are held hostage by extremists threatening to sell them into slavery.

Officials and the media are calling this "human trafficking," a buzz term that really is just a euphemism for kidnapping, rape and torture, much like "ethnic cleansing" is a disgusting synonym for hate-murder and genocide.

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof argues that Boko Haram is fighting for its pathetic cause "rationally." "If you want to mire a nation in backwardness," Kristof says, "manacle your daughters." Kristof is dead-on in noting that we in the West are not acting rationally when we choose to empower military might over education in pre-empting foreign uprisings.

But this is now day 29 of these young women's ordeal. When is someone going to rescue these girls? And, no, the tweeting at #BringBackOurGirls won't do it. Please, spare us the social media and send in somebody's black helicopters.

Deal panders to GOP divide

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, like most Republican candidates this year in the South, can't quite decide which arm of the Republican Party to play to - the tea party or the more moderate establishment wing of the party.

Associated Press reporter Greg Bluestein caught Deal in a pivot moment last week as the governor was answering a question about his support for drug testing of some food stamp recipients.

"... He suddenly paused mid-sentence. Just as quickly, he recalibrated his message and unveiled support for a blockbuster expansion: a proposal to extend the testing to some recipients of jobless benefits, paired with rehabilitation for those who fail the test, giving his plan a softer edge."

The example crystallized a Deal strategy, Bluestein wrote, "darting toward the right for the May 20 primary with the testing proposal, while keeping an eye on the center for the November race with the offer of treatment."

Playing both sides all sounds like apple pie and some campaign jabs for Democrat candidate Jason Carter. He is the grandson of former President Jimmy Carter, and he will take on the GOP winner - likely Deal - in November.

Council considers new chief

The Chattanooga City Council tonight likely will confirm Mayor Andy Berke's hire of new Police Chief Fred Fletcher.

Fletcher, now a commander in the Austin, Texas, police department, has had about 100 meetings with civic leaders and groups in Chattanooga since Berke announced him as his choice for new chief.

That in itself should send a clear message to Chattanooga and the council: Both Fletcher and the Berke administration are serious about community trust and transparency in policing here.

We urge the council to confirm Fletcher.