Laura Bush is currently in Afghanistan focusing on the progress being made in that society over the last 6.5 years. It is easy to forget that prior to America’s involvement in Afghanistan, the Taliban had forbidden females from receiving any form of education. They would beat both women and girls with sticks who were caught outside showing even a millimeter of skin. For a female in Afghanistan, it must have been like living in Hell.

Considering the controversy surrounding Iraq, most people tend to overlook Afghanistan. While much progress has been made, there are still huge problems facing the country. The Taliban and Al-Qaeda are still a significant force and as the Associated Press reports (click here), Afghanistan is in financial trouble. Also, Pakistan has essentially turned into a military base for the Taliban and Al-Qaeda with no indication that change will be coming anytime soon. Simply put, the country is obviously not a paradise. Still, we should all be reminded of the progress being made especially in regards to women’s rights. The following excerpt from the Associated Press article highlights this aspect:

Her trip sought to focus on signs of progress. While standing beside Karzai, she said, “We’ve been discussing a lot of other issues that have to do both with our partnership between the United States government and Afghanistan, as far as education is concerned, and all the other great projects I visited today, a lot of agriculture, a lot of other things.”

Earlier, she met with women training at the National Police Bamiyan Regional Training Center. She celebrated the construction of a paved road linking the Bamiyan airport with its bazaar and town center and toured a learning center under construction that will double as an orphanage.

Several dozen future students, all school-age children in traditional white scarfs, sang to her at the center, a project of the U.S.-Afghan Women’s Council. The council was set up to help women gain the skills and education deprived them under the Taliban.

“Of course we want more girls in school and I think that’s really key to the success of Afghanistan,” Bush said. “There’s a huge increase in the number of kids in school. There are almost 6 million kids in school now compared to 2001 when there were maybe a million, but no girls.”

Laura Bush is a champion for the rights of women yet we hear virtually nothing about her efforts. Imagine if Hillary Clinton had taken up this issue instead of healthcare in 1993? Gloria Steinem would have petitioned New York City to have a statue erected in Central Park in the likeness of Ms. Clinton. I am perplexed as to why the rest of the feminist communities are not rallying to her cause. I do not want to believe that it is solely due to partisanship but what else can be concluded? Certainly, it is OK to disagree vehemently with the policies of President Bush and still focus on an issue that merits positive attention.

Have we degraded so much as a society that we are unable to examine issues on a case-by-case basis but now view everything as though we are rooting for our favorite sports teams? The notable women of the right get no free pass on this issue either. Maybe if Anne Coulter stopped throwing bombs and Michelle Malkin took a break from the issue of immigration every once in a while and focused on something positive, then they would not be thought of as right wing nuts by many in the public. What have we heard from them on Laura Bush in Afghanistan?

The irony is that Mrs. Bush does not want any credit or publicity beyond that which will help make Afghanistan a better place to live for women and men. Compare this to another First Lady in the recent past and it is a welcome relief that Laura Bush displays a rare characteristic in today’s partisan political world; modesty. We could all learn something from Laura Bush.

Laura Bush in Afghanistan – Video

photo source: file