Everyone deserves a voice


via Business Insider

On February 20, the New York Times published an opinion piece by Sirajuddin Haqqani, the leader of the Taliban. The article sparked outrage across the internet, as a multitude of people, regardless of political belief, shamed the New York Times for publishing the article. They believe that it is an injustice to democracy to circulate the work of a terrorist leader.

After all, the Taliban has claimed over 100,000 lives in their war with the Afghan government. These casualties don’t just include soldiers, but also innocent civilians who have nothing to do with the war. There is no doubt that Haqqani himself is a despicable person on account of his actions.

However, I believe that everyone deserves a voice in the media, no matter how loathsome they may be. The concept of free speech is a cornerstone of  American values, and it is a disservice to our country to revoke this right from anyone.

Some argue that the Taliban have forfeited their rights to free speech based on their destructive behavior.  These critics emphasize that free speech does not extend to messages that incite violence and contend that the article gives Haqqani a platform to spread hatred and potential danger to the innocent.

While this argument would have merit if Haqqani’s message was aggressive in nature, this opinion piece certainly is not. Haqqani actually calls for international peace and discusses how he works toward this goal daily. He expresses his intentions to negotiate with the United States without any alarming undertones.

Although it is difficult to trust the Taliban after years of carnage, there is no downside to publishing this article. In the worst case scenario, the article accomplishes nothing and the Taliban continues its violent ways.

However, the upside of publication is immense. Haqqani clearly makes a plea for peace, and hopefully, the United States has not closed the door to consideration of his proposal. The Taliban have taken countless lives over the past several decades and any shot at ending their terror in the Middle East must be taken.

Obviously, the New York Times should steer clear of articles with aggressive intentions. But when it comes to historically bad people with good intentions, they must give them a chance to speak. Haqqani’s article could be a turning point for the Middle East and his renewed message of peace deserves to be heard.