The Plastic Hippo

January 6, 2013

Book ends

Filed under: Birmingham,Education,Health,Politics,Rights,Society,World — theplastichippo @ 1:00 am
Image via QE Hospital and BBC

Image via QE Hospital and BBC

There are many reasons to celebrate the news that Malala Yousafzai is well enough to leave hospital and many reasons to be proud to live in the UK and particularly in the West Midlands. Enjoy it; such a happy event may never happen again.

Wanting only her right to an education, the 15-year-old from the Swat Valley in Pakistan was shot in the head by a gunman devoid of an education or, indeed, basic humanity. It seems Malala`s crime was reading books and so in the warped minds of illiterate thugs who corrupt a peaceful religion, she was guilty of “promoting secularism”. I`m not quite sure exactly which holy book states that anyone reading a book should be summarily executed but then again nor does the gunman. Similarly, hoodies throwing petrol bombs in Belfast, artillerymen shelling civilians in Gaza and Afghans blowing up their own in Kabul have probably never actually read the scriptures they so violently defend. Reading is difficult stuff and best left to the witch doctors who make a good living exploiting the faith of the ignorant.

Mercifully, Malala survived the assassination attempt and was transferred to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham. It seems counterintuitive to describe an attack on a 15-year-old girl as an assassination attempt; who would want to assassinate a 15-year-old girl and, more importantly, why? But in a world where tiny children are gunned down in a Connecticut school and a female medical student in Delhi dies as a result of unspeakable barbarity, human life is considered cheap in direct contrast to what every religious text, scripture and holy book of instructions clearly state. Malala was fortunate to be treated at the QE here in merrie olde England as it specialises in fixing battlefield wounds brought back as unwanted souvenirs of military adventures undertaken by successive British governments. Safely away from the Swat Valley where one side wants to put another bullet in her head and the other side might order a drone strike because she might be occupying the same virtual reality game space as the men wanting to put another bullet in her head, the UK is a much nicer place to be treated in and then rest and recuperate.

She may smile at our quaint little ways and become a little confused at our cultural idiosyncrasies. In a stable, mature democracy, she will need time to understand why the state church will not allow women to become bishops when gay men can as long as they promise to repent and become celibate. She may ask why the government hates old, sick, poor and disabled people and allows a Secretary of State for Education to attack teachers, harm children and airbrush Mary Seacole out of history because of her ethnicity. She may wonder why the railways charge passengers a fortune and then treat them like cattle. For all its faults, the United Kingdom has done something as wonderful as the summer Olympics. It has taken in a young victim of insane violence, cared for her and hopefully made her better; welcomed her and her family into our community and displayed a humanity that we can all be proud of.

As an added bonus, we can take huge enjoyment from the frustrated and enforced silent rage that must be racing around the tiny minds of the likes of Aidan Burley MP and Nigel Farage MEP. Imagine their chagrin at an immigrant being treated for free at an NHS hospital, welcomed and prayed for and nominated by petition for the Nobel Peace Prize. Perhaps the compassion and skill displayed by staff at the QE is another example of “leftie multicultural crap” or yet more encouragement to unwelcome foreigners coming to Britain to fraudulently claim benefits. The molluscs on the right, if their heads haven`t already exploded with apoplectic fury, will no doubt be preparing questions as to how much it is costing to care for this young woman and how much it is costing to keep her safe. I think it is a price worth paying and remain very, very proud of the NHS and the people of the West Midlands.

Burley and Farage might be symptomatic of a lunatic fringe too stupid to check facts before opening their bigoted mouths but they do represent the shrill end of a lunatic fringe currently destroying Britain. If the greedy idiots around the cabinet table in Downing Street continue on their current course, there will be no NHS, no welcome for victims of oppression and violence and no more books for children to read in schools and libraries. Only the witch doctors and their offspring will be allowed health care and education. They, being cleverer than us, will then tell us what to do and think.

Still facing reconstructive cranial surgery, we can only hope that Malala Yousafzai finds the strength and courage to continue her campaign for a decent education. If an informed and literate population in Pakistan can improve the lot of that troubled nation, then the same is true of the United Kingdom.

Welcome to the West Midlands, Malala. We need more people like you.



  1. Re the comment about her free treatment…The Guardian reported that… …

    “The Pakistani government has been paying for her treatment and the upkeep of her family since she arrived in the UK.”

    Comment by Ged Cowburn — January 6, 2013 @ 8:46 pm | Reply

  2. Sadly while every religious text, scripture and holy book of instructions may say life is a precious gift, many prescribe brutal punishment for sinners.
    Risking the Hippo’s horns, I suggest that the 21st Century Western mind has less wrath. Be merciful, a plea not lost here I hope.

    Comment by AnotherTraveller — January 14, 2013 @ 9:24 pm | Reply

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