Malalai Joya was listed under the banner of “Heroes” by Time Magazine in its ‘100 Most Influential People of 2010’. That Time should have even attempted to profile a courageous activist against the U.S./NATO occupation of Afghanistan is surprising. More predictable is the treatment it accorded her.
Not one word of her unwavering opposition to the NATO occupation of her country is mentioned. The spotlight is entirely upon her hatred of the warlords and the fundamentalists.
However, the brief Time tribute to Joya does slyly hint at her wayward beliefs by sagely advising Joya to come into the light, with the words “I hope in time she comes to see the U.S. and NATO forces in her country as her allies.”
The author of her profile was Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Herself famous – far more so than Joya in the West – Ali is a dramatic counterpoint to Joya. Where Joya refuses to honor the holy sanctity of the Western elite, Ali – very much in the manner of an old Soviet dissident – allows herself to be garlanded by the power-brokers of the North Atlantic while recounting the horrors of the society of her birth. She is author of a book widely praised and read in the U.S. Like the Cold War dissidents, her grievances against her old country are no doubt real and sincere – but she allows herself to be used and enriched in the service of a geopolitical propaganda war. Ali had her own appearance featured among Time’s Top 100 five years earlier. She was not chastised in her profile – for failing to recognize her Western allies, or for anything else.
Joya on the other hand, condemns the violence of both the Taliban and the U.S.-led forces. Joya will never be granted a American Enterprise Institute fellowship. Her book was not a New York Times bestseller. As of today, Ali and Joya’s books are ranked at #7,713 and #124,626 respectively in the Amazon Best Sellers Rank in Books listing. That despite Joya’s book having been published far more recently (and despite the more recent Time profile boost).
The material benefits of siding with power are very real, and the consequences likely quite rewarding – if one is merely an empty stomach bereft of a head with a functioning moral sense.