On Mother’s Day, I read about the bombing of the girl’s school for the Hazaras in Kabul and I wept. The death toll has risen to 85. A part of my heart is buried in the Afghani soil that absorbed my son’s lifeblood. So my heart is sensitive to the cries of the mothers and children and civilians who suffer. In reading that article I thought, “This is the fate of female Afghanis under the Taliban after our troops leave.” I hate war and have mixed feelings about pulling out of Afghanistan.
The book I edited and published by Blackside Publishing entitled A Soldier to Santiago, Finding the Warrior Path to Peace describes the efforts of a Navy Seabee who spends his entire deployment repairing schools that are repeatedly destroyed by the Taliban. The Taliban even violently assassinated any Afghanis contracted to work on the schools.
On Twitter on Mother’s Day, I also read what @Matt Zeller wrote: The morning after @JanisShenwary saved my life, I found him eating alone in our chow hall. I sat down & thanked him for saving my life—it was the first real conversation we ever had. I asked him why saved me. His answer changed my thinking on Afghanistan forever.
He said, “you are a guest in my country, I die before you do.”
“Well, you’re a hell of a shot, I’m really glad you’re on our side. Hey, why is that, why are you on our side?”
“My mom would kick my ass if I joined the Taliban.”
It wasn’t the answer I ever expected to hear. “I don’t understand, I thought women didn’t have any power over here?”
“You know nothing of Afghans,” he said, staring into my eyes.
“You’re right. I don’t. Will you teach me?”
“Ok, first lesson, Afghan men can do nothing without the blessing of their mothers.”
“So you’re telling me everyone on the other side of yesterday’s battle had their mom’s permission to be there, to be Taliban?”
“If their mom is still alive, yes,” he said as he chewed a bite of some Na’an bread and dipped it into some sort of Afghan yogurt.
“What makes your mom so much more enlightened than their moms? Why does she forbid you when theirs allow them?”
“Because she can read and write for herself. She has read the Quran, she knows what the Taliban preach isn’t Islam, it’s bullshit.” He put his Na’an down and stared into my eyes, “Why do you think the Taliban burn down and attack schools for girls? It’s because they fear moms like mine.”
Matthew Griffin, a former Rangers, co-founded Combat Flip Flops to provide jobs for Afghanis making flip-flops and to use the profits to educate Afghani women. As Griff says, “Educated mothers don’t raise terrorists.” His goal was to educate 100,000 Afghani girls. Combat Flip Flops got its start in Afghanistan, where cofounder Matthew Griffin and his two partners, Donald Lee and Andy Sewrey, Griffin’s brother-in-law, served seven deployments among them.
So many of our children were killed in a country that no army has ever really defeated, except for Gengis Khan, who raped and pillaged his way through that country. The Hazaras, a persecuted minority, are the descendants of Genghis Khan.
My heart aches and fears for the human cost of pulling out of Afghanistan that will be paid by the lives of Afghani women and children subjected to violence against them by targeting violence against education for women.
If you want to learn more about the violence perpetrated against women in Afghanistan before Operation Enduring Freedom, read Gayle Tzemach Lemmon’s inspiring book about women who found ways to survive. The Dressmaker of Khair Khana: Five Sisters, One Remarkable Family, and the Woman Who Risked Everything to Keep Them Safe.
This first appeared in The Havok Journal on May 13, 2021.
Scoti Springfield Domeij is the proud Gold Star mom of 2/75 Army Ranger, Sgt. 1st Class Kristoffer Domeij, KIA on October 22, 2011, during his 14th deployment in Afghanistan. Kristoffer’s death inducted Scoti into the amazing military family and Ranger community. A civilian, Scoti is woefully ignorant of military protocol and acronyms.
She serves as Director of Springs Writers, is a solo-parenting columnist for Colorado Springs Kids, was editor/writer for nine publishers. She’s published in diverse publications including The New York Times, Southwest Art, School Daze, SAM Journal, and parenting magazines. She contributed stories to Violence of Action: The Untold Stories of the 75th Ranger Regiment in the War on Terror (Blackside Concepts), Love is a Verb Devotional and Heaven Touching Earth (Bethany House), Christmas Miracles (St. Martin’s Press), Extraordinary Answers to Prayer: In Times of Change (Guideposts), and The Mommy Diaries: Finding Yourself in the Daily Adventure (Revell).
A researchaholic, Scoti was Senior Research Assistant/Art Production Coordinator for the 27-part film series shot on location in Israel entitled That the World May Know. She interacted with top scholars, archeologists, and museums while researching geography, seasons, feasts, culture, dress, facial ethnicity, machinery, furniture, weapons, wars, architecture, archeological discoveries, Roman culture and government, ancient religious beliefs, flora and fauna to conceptualize historically, archeologically and biblically-accurate art compositions used for over 200 art renderings and maps.