Monday, June 18, 2012

Taliban & Blazing Saddles

One of the few memorably clever sequences out of Blazing Saddles is when Cleavon Little, playing the black sheriff in a very redneck Western town, takes himself hostage:

That's all I can think of when I see this June 18, 2012 New York Times article:
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — A Pakistani Taliban commander has banned polio vaccinations in North Waziristan, in the tribal belt, days before 161,000 children were to be inoculated. He linked the ban to American drone strikes and fears that the C.I.A. could use the polio campaign as cover for espionage, much as it did with Shakil Afridi, the Pakistani doctor who helped track Osama bin Laden.

The commander, Hafiz Gul Bahadur, said that the vaccinations would be banned until the Central Intelligence Agency stopped its drone campaign, which has been focused largely on North Waziristan.
Mr. Bahadur said the decision had been taken by the shura-e-mujahedeen, a council that unites the myriad jihadi factions in the area, including Taliban, Qaeda and Punjabi extremists.
Yeah...make sure that a generation of likely Taliban supporters die young, or grow up crippled.  Perhaps they can use their wheelchairs to hide suicide bombs.


  1. I would normally comment with something like "think of it as evolution in action".
    However, polio seems to be a disease exacerbated by cleanliness. If you clean up the environment enough so kids don't catch the disease as toddlers or earlier, they catch it later and it does a lot more damage.
    So for a dirty enough population, not vaccinating may actually do more harm to surrounding cleaner populations.

  2. What if it is evolution in action? For the past fourteen centuries, the pilgrimage to Mecca has acted to spread diseases as fast as possible. Presumably, that would help breed disease resistance. In addition, Islamic law would help keep a society functioning during a plague. (Before sanitation, vaccines, and antibiotics, those were probably the best responses to a plague.) Maybe some Muslims are trying to continue the breeding program.