Remember the 7 million ink-dipped forefingers.
The hue varied from blue to indigo to purple, but each dyed digit signified a voter who had braved the murderous Taliban to participate in the 2014 presidential election in Afghanistan.
The 58 percent turnout rate equaled that in the 2012 presidential election in the United States, which involved no physical jeopardy at all.
And 35 percent of the Afghan voters were women despite onerous cultural obstacles that made them doubly heroic.
“Take that, Taliban! We, the women, are here to build our country,” read another #AfgElection2014 tweet.
One photo on Twitter showed a long line of women in traditional dress under unrolled plastic sheeting.
“Double veil for many of them…rain couldn’t stop these women from voting,” the accompanying tweet read.
Another photo showed an elderly woman in a dark blue headscarf, holding up a forefinger dyed indigo down to the knotted second knuckle.
“80yrs old…feeling proud to support democracy in Afghanistan,” that accompanying tweet announced.
Tweets concerning the voting by both genders read, “Proud to have voted in my country’s elections. Way forward with ballots not bullets,” and “What an inspiration!” and “Voted, and an incredible feeling, but still stuck at the mosque, someone stole my sandals. A tiny price,” and simply, “Best day ever!”
A teacher tweeted, “Have loved seeing my students’ blue-dyed fingers from voting. Little world changers.”
A bomb detonated near a school that served as a polling place in Logar province. A suicide bomber was stopped as he tried to enter a polling place in Faryab province. The Taliban kidnapped and killed a local candidate along with nine other people in Sar-i-Pul province. The voting continued in those places and throughout the country, interrupted only where the turnout so far exceeded expectation that the polling place ran out of ballots.
“Everyone is winner today but Taliban,” declared yet another tweet.
The long lines and exultation in the face of murderous threats should have been all the more inspiring for an American because the Afghans were themselves inspired by the electoral system at the heart of our democracy.
So, imagine how the little world changers and the doubly heroic women and the resolute men must feel to see the very different tweets coming from Donald Trump as we near this year’s American presidential election.
“The election is absolutely being rigged by the dishonest and distorted media pushing Crooked Hillary—but also at many polling places—SAD,” reads a typical Trump tirade.
Anybody who has followed Trump over the years knows that in his view dishonest reporters are those who report things about him that he does not like, no matter how truthful those reports might be. We are now coming to learn that in Trump’s view a rigged election is one where he is not polling in the lead. He became the Republican nominee while inciting bigotry and telling unending lies even regarding 9/11, but bragging about sexual assault does not appear to be part of the formula for electoral victory in America.
“RIGGED!” Trump declares.
Trump can say what he wants about reporters, who have come to understand that being called dishonest by him is in fact a high compliment.
He turns dangerous when he calls into question the integrity of the America electoral system. He is then offering aid and comfort to the Taliban, along with ISIS and Putin and all the other enemies of democracy.
The word for this is treason, though it is treason that is protected by the freedom of speech guaranteed by the Constitution that Trump seems to respect only when it suits his immediate purpose.
In the Afghan election in 2014, there was actual rigging, but the voting was in itself a pure act of courage carrying the implicit hope that true democracy will eventually prevail there, just as it does in America.
Maybe the thing to do here in the craziness of 2016 is dip your index finger in ink, blue, or indigo or maybe purple. That way, you can remind yourself and everybody you encounter about those 7 million Afghans who braved death threats to vote as we will be voting come Nov. 8.