Jessica Lahitou thanks Dan Quinn for putting his career on the line to fight for a little boy who had no power to fight for himself.
On Sunday, the New York Times published a story under the title “US Soldiers Told to Ignore Sexual Abuse of Boys by Afghan Allies.” As I read through the article, my reaction wavered between shock and heart-sickened repulsion. Apparently, the regular rape of little boys is so common in Afghanistan that it has its own name: boy play. I’d prefer not to go into the details; I wish I didn’t know them.
It is worthwhile to point out that the Taliban saw fit to outlaw this practice when they ruled in Afghanistan. The Taliban.
And yet our own military men and women were told to ignore the blatant abuse of children. You know, because these guys were our allies.
Feel free to come to your own conclusions on that.
Someone I’d like to highlight is former Special Forces Captain Dan Quinn. After becoming aware that one of these “allies” had chained a little boy to his bed, Dan Quinn saw fit to beat the man.
I’m not a proponent of violence, and certainly not a believer in tough-guy machismo for tough-guy machismo’s sake.
And we live in a world where very few issues fall into the easy categories of “good” and “evil.”
But this is one of those rare cases where there is – without question – moral clarity. Quinn was sought out by the boy’s mother, who had been beaten herself after seeking the release of her child. The boy had been let go, and accompanied her, limping.
When Quinn confronted the Afghan, who was in training with American forces, the local man admitted to what he had done. And when Quinn made clear such actions were not acceptable for people working with the military, this man laughed in his face.
And that’s when Quinn threw him to the floor.
Shortly thereafter, “the Army relieved Captain Quinn of his command and pulled him from Afghanistan.”
There are those who argue that the goal of our work in Afghanistan is to remove the Taliban, not rescue little boys.
But I’m not sure how that works out along ethical lines.
When I taught 8th grade, we did a yearly unit on the Holocaust, during which we read Elie Wiesel’s seminal survival memoir Night. Over the course of five years, I’ve read that book dozens of times. And one detail came to mind, as I read this New York Times article.
Wiesel wrote that in the concentration camps, there was widespread trafficking of little boys amongst Nazi commanders. Good looking children were sometimes “spared” to work privately for Nazi guards.
I endeavor not to involve myself in Godwin moments, but today the reference may be appropriate. The sexual abuse of little children seems – to this writer, yes, but also most people, including many prison populations – a particular hallmark of total moral bankruptcy.
As such, would it not be better to shun such “allies?”
If even the Taliban won’t tolerate this practice, why on earth would we?
So I’d like to say a heartfelt thank you to Dan Quinn, for putting his career on the line to fight for a little boy who had no power to fight for himself.
And I’d like to ask our elected leaders to take a closer look into this gut-wrenching policy, and see if they can’t come up with something that looks less like American-condoned child abuse, and more like respect for basic human rights.
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