by Matthew D. Elisofon
Don’t even think about making fun of Afghan women on social media. Although there are hundreds of reasons why not, a good recent reason why not is especially because a young Jewish woman, Rachel Kluger-Heckler, took a principled stand.
“Afghan women are a stepping stone for human rights in the world, and especially in this moment when so many others are under attack,” Kluger-Heckler told Fox News. Kluger-Heckler shared an Instagram post (along with like, comment and share) with a family member.
She expressed a straightforward message: “Afghan women are innocent and oppressed. Sad state of affairs where they are abused and their existence is under scrutiny,” Kluger-Heckler wrote in the caption. The statement, succinct and compassionately emphatic, gained a lot of attention and Kluger-Heckler used it to draw the attention of her followers.
“My greatest fear is the image of one of my beautiful girls that a predator could download from my profile and use in his next venture. My life is on the line here,” Kluger-Heckler wrote.
The original post has 4,000 likes and 2,800 comments. “You’re stunningly beautiful and outspoken as hell and I salute you,” wrote Margaux Grant. “It’s not the first time I’ve seen you break the mold in your community. The fact that you’d even think of taking a stand like this is honorable and courageous as hell. Courageous yet hopeful. Like the young warrior you are. You’re on my #TeamAfghanGirl.”
“Thank you for believing in our Afghan sisters as much as we do. Nothing we have in Afghanistan to spare for female representatives, so if your American ass sees Afghan ladies fighting for equal rights, thinking please don’t treat them disrespectfully, please don’t joke about them, please don’t support any that make jokes about them. Please. That’s what makes me proud of you. You’re making me proud,” wrote Maria Blanco.
Kluger-Heckler’s statement on Instagram is a clear sign that Asian women’s voices are widely valued by mainstream culture in the United States. However, the young woman’s message was targeted specifically to those in this country, not just Asian Americans, and that is why it matters so much.
“In order to live out my dreams, I am confronted with struggles. In order to succeed in life, I am confronted with challenges. These challenges are not new ones,” Kluger-Heckler explained. “I grew up in an elite Jewish community where my principal goals were working hard, attending a good school, getting a college education, and living happily.
“Neither of these goals were being met. I started questioning everything. What about God? What about my future? What about my accomplishments? It didn’t make sense to me, and I was angry,” she wrote. “However, it wasn’t until I saw myself standing up and talking about it that I understood. It is when I held myself accountable to help others that I saw what truly mattered.”
Her message resonated with many. “I think that’s a really good message. Keep speaking up,” wrote Charles I. Clarke. “It’s great to see that you are empowering women and children. Imagine what your message would be for someone who had always been silent about what they believed. Keep speaking out, and I’m proud of you.”
Rachel Kluger-Heckler recently started a program called “Girls of Purpose” to empower girls from public high schools through team sports. Her father, Alex Kluger, was a former political appointee in the Army.
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