I thought I'd return to blogging yesterday (after finishing grading finals), but I found myself too exhausted to think clearly upon waking. The news of the assassination of Benazir Bhutto slapped me across the face harder than I thought it would.
One reason is that her killing didn't surprise me. That, in and of itself, made me draw a quick breath. The next reason was that I realized I wasn't so sure Al Quaeda is actually the culprit; without a full investigation (will that ever happen?), Musharraf could be behind it, a man who could easily stand to gain if he intends to be dictator, and his recent love of martial law might indicate that.
Then I got agitated by the media coverage that focused on the current Presidential candidates in this country and how they were responding to Bhutto's death. Everybody, it seemed, turned her assassination into an opportunity to make ridiculous sound bites, except for, perhaps, John McCain and Hillary Clinton. (Suddenly, I realized how little all of the other candidates know of international issues, beyond seeing things in utter black and white.) Suddenly, I felt terror at the very idea of a Huckabee being President--the man just joked the other day about shooting three pheasant because they weren't supporting him in Iowa or some nonsense such as that. I squirmed in my seat because despite liking Barack Obama, he seemed so stiff and green commenting on Bhutto's killing. And see how I've lost focus? I'm still reacting.
A leader, a woman, is dead. Benazir Bhutto was no angel, no Mohandas Gandhi. I joked to my partner yesterday that her family is kinda like the Kennedys--they're mostly all in politics, and they mostly all die. And, they are wealthy, the aristocracy, the beautiful people. They've had their charges of being corrupt (for which Benazir's father paid a dear price: he was hanged), and tragedy surrounds a brother or two (one of whom, if memory serves, Benazir has even been accused, if not murdering, of at least being behind his death). Benazir's husband, Asif Ali Zardari, whom she oddly agreed to an arranged marriage with, is by all accounts a total crook. He, in fact, brought her down as Prime Minister--twice!--because of apparent corruption on his part. (Then again, it's a different world over there, frankly the best of Shakespearean tragedies and histories. Not an excuse, but it's never really fair to expect democratic values from places that have been religious monarchies, or clan run, or however things have been done for centuries. That dumbass mindset of our immediately effecting drastic change like that has been our failing in Iraq, I think. Oops. And here I go, losing focus again.)
Look. Here's why I am grieving Benazir Bhutto:
She had done her due diligance. A brilliant woman, she attended Harvard and Oxford. Granted, only the most privileged of Muslim women get an education like that. (But that's how she came to see there were ways to serve, to champion the rights of the "common people." And the women and the poor of Pakistan adored her.)
She had balls. She returned to her native Pakistan after years in exile, knowing full well her neck was on the line. She was a genuine threat, to both the status quo and to the nutjob Islamic extremists hiding out in the hills. (Musharraf seems to be helping them hide. And why wouldn't he?)
She believed in democracy. She hated terrorism. She embraced the ideal of peace. Read here.
Rest well, Benazir Bhutto. You gave all women hope, in the way Indira Ghandi gave all women hope, that we may one day lead this human race to a place of human respect for each other. Rest well, Benazir Bhutto, with flowers draped upon your body, and know that your sacrifice was not entirely in vain.