The Horrific New Sharia Mini-State

Bibi has since denied to Pakistani judge and Divisional Commissioner Syed Mohammad Javed that she was ever beaten; no doubt the poor girl is terrified of the likely reprisal she'd meet if she dared to tell the truth. Nor has she received support from the very sorts who should be offering it instinctively. The chairman of the Pakistan International Human Rights Commission said that the video was a fabrication designed to "tarnish the image of Islam." And Imran Khan, the head of a small and spineless opposition party, denounced the flogging but not the motive behind it, saying that it was actually a dereliction of Sharia!

Meanwhile, the Pakistani Supreme Court has nobly ordered the interior secretary and the chief secretary and police chief of the NWFP to file biweekly reports on the case before ending their investigation. But this does not alter the fact that the government of Pakistan has handed over a valuable piece of land, and with it all its inhabitants, to a gang of fascistic, woman-loathing thugs.

The sadism of flogging a teenage girl is matched only by the depravity that impels such action. Forbes columnist Tunku Varadarajan was quite right to note that the flogger in this video "is deriving pleasure -- yes, sexual pleasure -- from his beating of this girl, as he hits her hard on her buttocks, sometimes a little higher, sometimes a little lower, mapping his territory in a display of violent, misogynist cartography. ... The Talib is getting satisfaction, a twisted, vile satisfaction derived from a twisted, vile social code."

No mother or father alive can watch the video without experiencing sheer revulsion and hatred for the men responsible.

There is a reason that Ayaan Hirsi Ali's elegant memoir of her captive girlhood in Somalia and Saudi Arabia outsold Lawrence Wright's Pulitzer Prize-winning study of the ideology and methods of al-Qaeda, even though the second book was probably more useful for waging the war on terror (sorry, "overseas contingency operations," as it is now, bloodlessly, called). Something in our evolutionary psychology is stirred to rebellion against acts of cruelty perpetrated against women and children. This is why not even the most sophisticated cultural relativist can convince an audience of the permissibility of female genital mutilation. It's also why rape, unlike certain acts of murder, is categorically deemed a crime for which no amount of time served can ever fully atone.

We should remind ourselves of the girl from Swat every time some "pragmatist" such as Fareed Zakaria or President Obama himself sounds the need for distinguishing "moderate" Islamists from their more extreme and primitive counterparts. Not only is this a self-serving dichotomy, focusing on whether a group's avowed aim is attacking the West or just oppressively ruling the roost at home, but it invites the unconscionable flagellation of human rights.