Roger L. Simon

Boola Baloney

As another Yalie (okay, Drama School – only half counts), I have to agree with Glenn Reynolds’ skepticism about the vaunted NYT magazine cover story (or should I say hagiography?) of yesterday concerning the New Haven education of former Taliban spokesman Sayed Rahmatullah Hashem. Of course, spokesman is the right term because the mega-misogynist Taliban never had any spokespeople and never will. What was most disturbing to me about the Times’ piece about the Yale freshman was not the predictable mouthing off about Guantanamo, but the peculiar absence of the most obvious question. What in the hell right does this guy have to leave his wife and four and five year old children in Pakistan to go to Yale for four years? He wistfully complains that he misses them, but he could have done a thousand things to bring them with him or find an education elsewhere. His choice strikes me as the height of arrogant male chauvinism. Once a Taliban always a Taliban, it seems. Of course, that doesn’t fit in with the NYT narrative.

UPDATE: John Fund writes of the twenty-two year old Rahmatullah’s PR tour in early 2001:

But sometimes his humor really backfired. At a speech for the Atlantic Council, Mr. Rahmatullah was confronted by a woman in the audience who lifted the burkha she was wearing and chastised him for the Taliban’s infamous treatment of women. “You have imprisoned the women–it’s a horror, let me tell you,” she cried. Mr. Rahmatullah responded with a sneer: “I’m really sorry to your husband. He might have a very difficult time with you.”

Later Fund concludes:

I don’t believe Mr. Rahmatullah had direct knowledge of the 9/11 plot, and I don’t think he has ever killed anyone. I can appreciate that he is trying to rebuild his life. But he willingly and cheerfully served an evil regime in a manner that would have made Goebbels proud. That he was 22 at the time is little of an excuse. There are many poor, bright students–American and foreign alike–who would jump at the opportunity to attend Yale. Why should Mr. Rahmatullah go to the line ahead of all of them? That’s a question Yale alumni should ask when their alma mater comes looking for contributions.