View Full Version : The God of War and Destruction lives on
03-03-01, 09:54 AM
That's it - the Taliban has got to go. Does anyone disagree?
Although I can't imagine that this is much of a topic for debate, I wanted to post a link to this article here and invite discussion on it: <a href="http://www.msnbc.com/news/536573.asp?cp1=1">Taliban demolish ancient statues</a>.
Words fail me. I simply despair at the utter stupidity of such religious fundamentalism. When oh when will humanity mature?
Thanks for the link.
The idiots always do it.
For example, in Russia there have been two such episodes last century. First occurred right after the Communist Party won the civil war following the revolution of 1917: they proceeded to demolish a tremendous number of beautiful churches and monasteries, palaces and works of art unparalleled in the world -- all in the name of burning the last bridge to the old Russian czarist imperium. As part of that cultural purge, they also proceeded to execute and persecute the Russian cadre of artists, scientists and intellectuals who had not had the wisdom to flee the country earlier. It was the greatest tragedy in Russia since times immemorial.
The second episode occurred right after the Soviet Union ended. The mob went and tore down the pervasive symbols of communism, including the multitude of statues and monuments. Just like that, another half-century of cultural heritage went up in smoke.
But imagine how much richer the country (and the world!) would have been, how much more tourist appeal Russia would have had -- if neither of those waves of destruction occurred?
What we have here is the typical sight of the mob in extremis taking out its agony on anything that happens to be around. It's the equivalent of a frustrated and desperate individual smashing and tearing up everything in sight, magnified a million-fold.
I'm going against my usual antireligious cant here, but I have to say that this particular phenomenon is not a fault of religion per se. Cris is correct in pointing out the childish immaturity of humankind. Of course, religion is just another (if particularly pernicious and mutually-reinforcing) manifestation of such immaturity, so it's not entirely unrelated to these sad events.
03-04-01, 05:09 PM
Cris and Boris,
I am in agreement with both of you. I would like to add that this is all about control, which is what organized, fundamentalist religions are all about.
Also, as I'm sure you're both well aware, the abuses of the Taliban are not limited to the destruction of Afghanistan's cultural heritage.
Following are a few links that outline some of their other abuses, followed by a link to an online petition to the United Nations, to end the Taliban war on women:
<a href="http://www.salon.com/books/review/2000/04/06/rashid">Taliban - Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia</a>
<a href="http://www.berkeley.edu/news/berkeleyan/1999/0317/taliban.html">Gender Apartheid Under Afghanistan's Taliban</a>
<a href="http://www.utexas.edu/students/cwiforum/issue2/taliban.html">The Taliban and Women's Struggle In Afghanistan</a>
<a href="http://petitiononline.com/taliban/petition.html">Stop the Taliban War Against Women Petition</a>
A political cartoon by David Horsey, of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Incidentally, we're all real proud of Dave for his 1999 Pulitzer.
To be honest, I can't stand to see this topic sliding down the list. Anyone wanna take bets on how many years the Taliban has left before ... well, I guess there's that, too. How ugly will it be? Is this one of those things that's going to end up with some fanatical religious terrorist with spare parts from Khazakstan reducing the nation to fire and rubble?
05-15-01, 07:58 PM
Originally posted by tiassa
Anyone wanna take bets on how many years the Taliban has left before ... well, I guess there's that, too. How ugly will it be? Is this one of those things that's going to end up with some fanatical religious terrorist with spare parts from Khazakstan reducing the nation to fire and rubble?
Thanks for posting this, Tiassa. Unfortunately, things will probably get much uglier in Afghanistan before they begin to get better. I can't even imagine living as a woman under those conditions. I wonder how the men there feel about such abuse leveled against the women they love? How do the women there survive emotionally? What effect will all of this have on the next generation? *shudder*
Thank you for the springboard. It seems I've built myself a tall soapbox to leap from like the happy idiot.
I can't even imagine living as a woman under those conditions.Don't worry yourself trying. These women will soon be incapable of either imagining or living. As conditions become desperate, people in general rearrange priorities. Life itself must be the first. If that means total isolation amid walls of humiliation you are too reduced to feel ....
I wonder how the men there feel about such abuse leveled against the women they love?This is not love. Nor should this way be called Islam. This is such an idiotic hatred that the world might necessarily have to play the strategy of guarding itself against the hatred and waiting for it to extinct itself. Except for the notion that fundamentalists are generally lesser-educated, and in this case, exceptionally so. These people will breed until there are no viable women left to breed. The world cannot necessarily trust this human microdrama to conclude for decency's sake, except for the fact that nobody will want to go there, and they'll eventually inbreed to critical dysfunction. That none of these words have to do with love except for the first sentence of the paragraph and this one should indicate how empty I think considerations of love among the Taliban to be. This is a hatred so honed by fear that it cannot be described, only enacted and witnessed. They've already killed the musicians.
How do the women there survive emotionally?
If I say, They don't, it should not be taken as the harsh point that is so obvious I've had to use it once already. But the women do not survive emotionally. They simply survive as long as they can because that's what living creatures do.
Strange. I figured to have a whole lot to say on this, but instead I find myself drifting into a meandering fantasy of If I were President. I got to the part where I saw myself standing on a table at Camp David screaming at the Secretary-General of the United Nations that I'd had it! with the godforsaken baby-blue helmets getting in my way, I actually gave myself a legitimate headache. Crap. But in terms of reality, this is what happens when you spend too many years fending off the Soviet menace. War breaks everything, including people. The wound to this particular nation may be mortal. If you pray for mercy, does that mean these women will die quietly in the night?
I've been pawing through Montesquieu's Persian Letters off and on for a couple of weeks; fictional and allegorical, there is a degree of historical veracity in the tales which any reader of classic literature recognizes. Proceeding, then, on that merit, I am privileged to the barest relevance as I ponder this rather odd "letter". From the translation by Christopher J Betts:
Letter 51: Nargum, Persian envoy to Muscovy, to Usbek, at Paris
... Although fathers usually stipulate in their daughters' marriage contracts tht the husband willl not whip them, you would scarcely believe how much Muscovite women like to be beaten; they cannot imagine that their husbands really love them unless they are properly beaten. For the husband to behave in any other way is an unpardonable indifference. Here is a letter which one of them wrote recently to her mother.
My dear Mother,
I am the unhappiest woman in the world; I have done everything I can to make my husband love me, and I ahve never yet managed it. Yesterday I had hundreds of things to do in the house; I went out, and stayed out all day. I thought, when I came back, that he would beat me really hard, but he didn't say a single word. My sister is very differently treated; her husband beats her every day. If she so much as looks at another man he goes for her on the spot. They love each other deeply, and get on very well together.
That is why she is so proud of herself; but I won't give her the chance to look down on me for long. I am determined to make my husband love me at any cost. I will make him so furious that he will have to give me some sign of affection. I won't have it said that I do not get beaten and that I live in his house without any notice being taken of me. If he gives me the slightest touch I shall scream as loud as I can, so that people will think he is actually beating me. If a neighbour came to my help I think I should strangle him. I beg you, dear Mother, please put it to my husband that it isn't right for him to treat me as he does. My father, who always does the right thing, did not behave like that, and I remmeber thinking when I was small that he sometimes loved you too much. I embrace you, dear Mother. (pp. 111-12)Okay ....
First, there is a footnote: ... you would not believe how much Muscovite women like to be beaten .... Footnote 2: "These customs have changed."
If we consider a few things about Montesquieu, we have a parallel to look at. First, as a member of European-Christian society, Montesquieu employed the Muslim character of Usbek as a convenient device to prod the foibles of Western culture. However, he does not give Islam safe passage, nor any custom that crosses his path.
Here, imho, we see a tragic farce: Certes no Muscovite woman living in such conditions ever expressed herself directly as such. However, it is not entirely a far-removed possibility, as we see similar patterns of destructive competition in modern society: (limiting ourselves to women, as per the issues at hand) childbirth and rearing; style and appearance; moral maintenance; consummate marital relations; violence .... Have we enough of a sampler?
So we see such a phallocentric culture that the best love one can achieve for a woman is utter dominance. With absolutely no alternatives, the women, for want of better, make do. We have heard, as children, that violence equals love, whether from our own parents, or from our schools, or from our political and civic leaders. (Family: corporal punishment; Schools: corporal punishment--this existed in schools at least into the 1980's; Political/Civic: warfare) It is a broad human assumption that the best things we feel are among the most negative things we do.
So a young Muscovite girl is punished: beaten for spilling wine. But it is okay ... the pain isn't so bad because the hand doing the beating loves her. Do we really expect women raised amid such universal standards to arbitrarily demand a different form of love?
And if, in times of prolonged emotional stress, moments of levity and warmth do occur, the circumstances only accent the contrasts, so that the beatings, the rapes, and the weeping really do feel strongly positive. (We see this in modern America among sexually abused children, battered wives, and other victims of contemporary love.)
Perhaps Horsey's portrayed Doctor Woman has it toughest. She remembers a degree of freedom and respect that is gone. The new generations born into the future of the Taliban will know nothing but this coldness, and it will make all of the hatred seem warm when contrasted against the frigid emptiness of the circumstances. The women will survive, knowing only when to turn their heads or lie on their backs, and the young men who love them will never get a chance to understand why this is wrong.
Education, economy, and about four generations of contemporary inclusion promises the earliest recovery of Taliban women.
Right now the world wants to forget what is happening. It's a simple gamble: sacrifice a generation of Taliban women until the culture is isolated. But we know this will not happen, for lesser educated nations reproduce far too quickly. Yet the world will continue to hopefully ignore the situation because it is easier to pretend fresh horror at each new atrocity than it is to remember that this has been going on and will not end on its own. If it were as simple as a one-time human write-off, I would say do so, for the future security of the human race. But it's not that simple, and the challenge will be both to break the cycle of violence, and also to break the psychology of isolation that makes this seem right--both to the wives and their, uh, loving husbands.
We need an international version of the iMac for womens' groups: iNOW ... Medical rights, equal wages, and equality before the law are incredibly important things to pursue in the US. But it may be time for our women to put down the battle flags of their domestic struggle and fire a shot across the oceans. It's obvious the men don't care; hell, as long as these things go on, a guy doesn't have to feel so guilty about giving his wife a pop in the mouth when she smarts off just so ... after all, it could be worse: she could be living in Afghanistan. As a more practical consideration, there is also the political issue of prestige: the world could not ignore Woman if she liberated her Afghan sisters. It's almost enough for me to call for a Lysistrata Americana. Really, the women would do okay during the period of demonstration. The men would be the ones who would have to decide what was really important.
Anyway, it's a couple of cents toward not having to shoot myself for this post.
06-04-01, 09:40 PM
Originally posted by tiassa
As a more practical consideration, there is also the political issue of prestige: the world could not ignore Woman if she liberated her Afghan sisters. It's almost enough for me to call for a Lysistrata Americana. Really, the women would do okay during the period of demonstration. The men would be the ones who would have to decide what was really important.
Here is a website which suggests several ways to help our sisters in Afghanistan: <a href="http://www.feminist.org/afghan/intro.asp">Stop Gender Apartheid in Afghanistan</a>.
And here is an article from that site which shows the Taliban is still at it, despite pressure from the UN:
<font color="blue">Feminist Daily News Wire
June 1, 2001
Taliban Adds New Restrictions on Women, Feels UN Pressure
In the face of stepped-up pressure from the United Nations (UN) for the Taliban to grant women more freedom, the Taliban has imposed a new ban restricting foreign women from driving cars in Afghanistan. The ban is the latest in a long series of restrictions on women’s rights, and more recently, on women aid workers’ rights. The UN this week threatened to close UN-operated bakeries that provide food aid to Afghans if the Taliban did not allow female aid workers to help administer a poverty survey related to the operation of the bakeries. The ban on foreign female drivers will further restrict aid agencies’ ability to reach those in greatest need. The Taliban has blamed recent tensions with the UN on pressure from US women’s organizations, despite the fact that their oppression of women and minorities clearly violates the UN charter and international standards of human rights.</font>
Is it possible to be any more backward than this?
06-04-01, 11:33 PM
i personally can not even imagine what it would be like to be male or female in a society that would allow/encourage such treatment.
i subscribe to a daily morbid fact e-mail and many of the worst things i have heard being done to people in those mails happened because in the particular countries it is acceptable or normal.
despite what other posts of mine might imply i am a very non-violent person.
Is it possible to be any more backward than this? Unfortunately, this strategy only works if both the contenders are idiots. With an empty hand, as the West seems to have in this game, it takes an idiot to bluff such stakes. Knowing what's showing on the table, it would take an idiot to back off such a bluff.
As for idiots, may we introduce the Taliban?
I've got an idea: to protect cultural identity in the US, when we finish the Crazy Horse Memorial, let's blow it up. :rolleyes:
Let's protect the gays and make them wear little pink triangles by law. :rolleyes:
As Spooner put it, let us teach children to love the light by keeping them ignorant of darkness. Or, let us call the darkness light and skip the whole mess.
* We recognize the need here for sacrificial lambs. As disturbing as this is, yeah. No matter what the solution, it's obviously not here, and there are people suffering at this moment. That we do not stop it now makes it no less wrong. The damned are our lambs to atone for our inaction.
* To be absolutely capitalist about it, how much resource can we afford to spend before the economic outlook changes? To be simply cold about it, how long can our collective and individual consciences take this beating? I'm only numb to it because I'm hiding behind the cultural abyss.
* Is there an acceptable sum? How many human beings can we allow to slip away?
* I believe it was Jake Johansen who said, in the 80's, that Reagan bombed Libya back to the stone age, which wasn't much of an accomplishment since it only set them back a few weeks. What is the acceptable loss? Is this worth a war? Let me here reassert my pacifist line: no war is acceptable. But what of the one already declared? If the world must go to war, I would rather it go in for this than oil or water.
If you ever play poker for cash, make sure there's a couple of UN suits at the table with you; you'll clean them out. But if our rockets are going to burn sky and earth alike, if our screaming jet engines will be deaf to the frightened wails below, then why not now, and why not here?
I am not sarcastic if I assert that the economic value of going to war for women would be much brighter if prostitution were legal in the United States, though that seems the circuitous route.
What a fucking mess.
Ignoring the bit re. the tagging and women, what I can't understand is the fuss that was made over the destruction of the statues of Buddha. The area is very prone to earthquakes and if one would have been responsible the response would no doubt have been 'Oh well, too bad'.
If I remember correctly, the damming of the Nile a while back (I think it was the Aswan dam) resulted in an effort to save what was going to be lost to the flooding, but not much else in the way of condemnation.
So, is it okay to destroy objects of historical significance for 'progress' but not so okay to destroy them because of belief?