Feature 08.24.2021 4 minutes

Selective Empathy

Country side of Kabul

The media's favorite pawns are invoked again.

When news of the Taliban’s reconquista of Afghanistan broke, it took mere hours for legacy media outlets (Fox and MSNBC alike) to repeat a line audiences hadn’t heard in a while: What about the women and children? The US has given up on defending the women and children of Afghanistan. Afghani women and children have “no possible life” under Taliban rule. And so on.

Of course by “a while,” I mean since the most recent international crisis triggered a refugee catastrophe for Western countries. Last year, it was Mexican kids in cages, breastfeeding mothers cruelly separated from infants by personal order of Trump himself. Before then, in 2015, no one could escape the image of the drowned Syrian child face-down on a Turkish beach, where he’d washed up after his parents boarded an overcrowded rubber raft to cross the Mediterranean for safe haven.

Details dissipate under the weight of drama. It isn’t that instances of women and children suffering under cruel fates on the international stage aren’t real, or that they aren’t horrible. They are both of these. The problem, rather, is journalistic cynicism and mendacity. It is that discrete moments are selected and stretched to cover entire movements, to conceal uncomfortable details on the ground, to convince otherwise decent men of indecent solutions which will hurt them and their own—real, not imaginary—women and children in the end.

What happens when the major news outlets worldwide collectively make the entire media landscape into the funeral of a child? Anyone with any sense of dignity knows that you don’t parse details at the funeral of a child. You don’t wonder about the behavior of the child’s parents, you do not question the circumstances. What do you say to the parents of dead children or, similarly, to victims of rape and abuse? I’m sorry. How can I help? Anything you need, anything you want, I’m here for you. What to say when stories of twelve-year-old girls being taken as war brides in Kabul flood your screen? You’d be a monster to express skepticism, and an apologist to resist the political consequences that inevitably follow.

For talking heads, conclusions hardly vary: open the American borders to thesetired, huddled masses of poor women and children exclusively. Never mind that at least 75% of migrants, whether in South American caravans or European resettlement camps, are men of fighting age. Never mind that rates of rape among migrant populations are far higher than among any of their hosts. Never mind either that our war in Afghanistan killed tens of thousands of children. The University of Kabul may have gotten its requisite gender studies program, but are we to assume that the existence of such a thing made life better for the women of Afghanistan? Never mind that it didn’t.

Leftist muzzling of opposition by using the images of suffering women and children as political shields should be entirely transparent to anyone paying attention now. Especially against backdrop of the media’s years-long attack on American womanhood and childhood through transgender advocacy, and the total dismissal of JD Vance for “unfairly using children as political talismans” against the Left, the hypocrisy is too much to ignore. “Political talismans for me but never for thee,” and the journalist blinks.

Violence against women and children by men, which occurs all over the world all the time, is deeply saddening. Knowing how these images sadden viewers, the media class seeks to fly under the banner of women’s rights as they push their true objectives: send American boys back to Afghanistan or bring the Taliban’s enemies, including men who routinely engage in bacha bazi, to America. As liberals and conservatives alike advocate for mass amnesty for Afghanis, Americans should remind themselves of the raw images and videos circulating from the airport in Kabul, and count the number of women and children. Where are they? Answer: left behind and disregarded by men who will soon be our neighbors. For the authors of the sexual forever-revolution, the mission is not about protecting the dignity of women and children. It never was, and it never will be. Don’t be fooled.

The American Mind presents a range of perspectives. Views are writers’ own and do not necessarily represent those of The Claremont Institute.

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