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Afghanistan's Barbarians Destroy Culture

By Eloquence in News
Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 11:18:33 AM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)
Culture

As you are probably aware, Afghanistan's ruling barbarians, the Taliban, want to destroy all statues in the country, including two ancient giant Buddha statues. Like the Christians of the Dark Ages, the Taliban argue that pictures are a form of worshipping and should therefore be eliminated. The world is watching as history is removed from the face of the Earth.


I recommend reading this article by the American Atheists. Quote:

  • Women have been banned from the work place, even the hospitals where female doctors and nurses accounted for the bulk of professional care givers. In what has been described as a wave of "Gender Apartheid," women and girls have also been prohibited from attending schools and university. Females are required to wear a cumbersome head-to-toe garment known as the burqa; and they may not venture forth in public unless in the company of a husband or blood relative.

  • Homes and apartments are open to search by the religious police, who confiscate western cultural materials (books, magazines, videos, records/CDs). Alcohol is seized, and Taliban has organized numerous "photo ops" for journalists which include military vehicles crushing crates of liquor as proof of the "purification" of Afghan society. Books are regularly burned, and there is no opposition press. (Copies of the Koran are permitted, but Taliban authorities have expressed concern that if discarded, they might be recycled into other products including toilet paper -- a blasphemy.) Any residence where a woman lives must have its windows painted over so no one may happen to glance inside.

  • Movie theaters, night clubs, bars and most of the educational facilities have been shut down. Television sets are confiscated.

  • Men are not faring any better. Attendance at dreary mosque services is compulsory, and "neighborhood watch"-style religious cops note who is absent. Men have also been required to wear short hair cuts, and full beards. Males must also refrain from wearing any western-style clothing.

  • Radios are permitted, but only for listening to the official Taliban Radio Sha'ria ("religious law"). Recently, the Sha'ria has begun "prayer lessons," for all men who must memorize the verses.

  • Religious justice in Taliban-ruled areas, especially Kabul, is swift and draconian. The roving militias and religious police often execute a "street level" form of punishment, including whippings and public beatings. Acting Deputy Foreign Minister Sher Mohammed Stanakzai told reporters, when Taliban first took control of the capital, that "We will try our best to execute all the rules and regulations of Islam. We love our country and our people, and we also love Islam."

  • The fanatical and authoritarian zeal of Taliban authorities has gone to the most ludicrous extremes. Caged birds such as canaries have been outlawed, "because they sing," according to one critic of the regime quoted in The London Times. "Taliban is rule crazy," adds the paper.

        "Men have been told to attend mosque five times a day and their names are taken by the mosque shura (council) ... Come 4:30 a.m., the streets are full of bleary-eyed men following the muezzin's call."

  • The ban on women in the work place has created a growing class of "war widows" who do not have living male relatives on whom they can depend. It has also caused problems for international relief agencies who have women working in the field. Even the Afghan Red Crescent Society (the equivalent of the Red Cross agency) is now under the control of a Taliban official.

  • Card games, chess, and even wedding parties have been banned. "A married couple riding on the same bicycle on the way to the market were beaten for being physically too close in public... The Islamic rulers expect shop owners to leave their premises unlocked at night to prove how secure the city is."

End quote. But as the article points out, not only did the Taliban get in power thanks to western weapons, they use their control over the drug market as a threat in international relations: "Either acknowledge our rulership, or we will grow more drugs." Western oil companies like UNOCAL have made shady business deals with the Taliban, trying to get multi-billion-dollar pipeline projects on the way. In 1998, one such project was canceled after international protests and the US cruise missile attacks on Sudan and Afghanistan.

Still, no military intervention against the Taliban is undereway. Protected and tolerated by the West, they have decided to destroy thousand-year-old culture. It is obvious that nothing will be done to prevent this. How can we stop this from happening in the future? What if fundamentalists like the Taliban take power in other countries? Iran is already a haven for religious fundamentalism, but they are not as extreme as the Taliban -- yet. What if other countries decide that ancient cultural buildings are dangerous to their religion? What if Egypt blows up the pyramids, Israel tears down the Wailing Wall, Iran gets rid of Persepolis? How dangerous is, in comparison, religious fundamentalism in America or in Europe?

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Poll
What should be done about the Taliban?
o Nothing, they are the legitimate rulers of their countries. 26%
o Cease all political and economic relationships. 36%
o Military invasion. 18%
o We need a true world government! 18%

Votes: 82
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o destroy
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o Also by Eloquence


Display: Sort:
Afghanistan's Barbarians Destroy Culture | 85 comments (69 topical, 16 editorial, 0 hidden)
Drawing the lines (3.81 / 11) (#2)
by Signal 11 on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 11:15:59 PM EST

We have no moral perogative to act to help these people until they signal that they want western involvement. At that point,we should make our wishes known, as citizens of a democratic society, to our elected representatives our desire for relief and the nature of that relief - if any.

This article states many things which westerners would find abbhorrent and would seek to correct. But without the request of the citizens of afghanistan, we should not intervene. To do so would be hypocricy for us, and could easily lead us into another Vietnam for which our military is ill equipped to deal with, and for which the social implications should be immediately obvious.

At the risk of being cold hearted, I would also point out that one should weigh the personal costs of a military intervention (which is probably the only short-term solution available) of afghanistan -> american blood would be shed. If you feel strongly about it, I suggest donating funds to dissident movements underway in afghanistan. I would favor an intelligence operation to attempt a coup de etat as a long-term solution. I'm unsure quite how to request action of that nature to the CIA, but they would be the agency in our government most capable of executing such a maneuver. In addition, there are clear long-term benefits to our economy (and the world economy) by co-opting afghanistan into a democratic and capitalistic society.

The economy of afghanistan could benefit enormously from US intervention, and as any economist would quickly point out - the increased trade with our country (particularily petroleum) would more than offset the costs. Info on afghanistan is available.


--
Society needs therapy. It's having
trouble accepting itself.

In Principle... (3.75 / 4) (#5)
by Paradocis on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 11:45:18 PM EST

In principle I certainly agree with you that it is the job of the people of Afghanistan to overthrow such a blatantly sadistic and oppressive regime.

On the other hand, that regime has gained power because of the west's earlier misguided interference, and under such a repressive regime, it is impossible for them to simply ask for help.

The west strongly contributed to the mess, and now it(we)is\are simply washing our hands of it? We need to fix the problem we have created, and let it stand as a lesson in not interfering in the first place.


-=<Paradocis>=-
+++++++++++++++++++++
"El sueño de la razon produce monstruos." -Goya
+++++++++++++++++++++


[ Parent ]
Agreed, but... (3.50 / 2) (#8)
by Signal 11 on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 11:51:49 PM EST

We need to fix the problem we have created, and let it stand as a lesson in not interfering in the first place.

Agreed, but the request must come from the people of afghanistan. Our conscience alone is unsufficient cause for intervention, IMO.


--
Society needs therapy. It's having
trouble accepting itself.
[ Parent ]

don't forget... (3.33 / 3) (#19)
by SEAL on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 02:30:12 AM EST

... american blood would be shed.

And a lot of it, I might add. Not to mention, it is very unlikely that external military intervention would accomplish anything other than pissing off other Arab nations.

And let's say you decide to invade Afghanistan. What is the stated mission goal? Overthrow the Taliban? Cmon get real. They control about 90% of the nation, and more importantly, many of the citizens agree with their policies. They have seasoned military veterans who are especially experienced in fighting and holding positions in the mountainous regions. Weeding them out, and protecting U.N. troops from their terrorist attacks and guerilla tactics would be nearly impossible.

Even if control could be achieved, it would entrench troops in a situation where they could control the country, but never leave. And that's assuming you're willing to sacrifice many lives to do so. Just ask the former Soviet Union how much fun it is to fight Islamic fundamentalists on their own turf.

No thanks. This whole article is slanted to a Western point of view. If enough people in Afghanistan hated the Taliban, then the Taliban would not, or eventually will not control the country. How Afghanistan citizens govern themselves is their own business.

SEAL

It's only after we've lost everything that we're free to do anything.
[ Parent ]

Military action won't work, but subversion might. (none / 0) (#83)
by meldroc on Mon Mar 05, 2001 at 12:25:58 AM EST

I'd have to agree that military intervention is just plain unrealistic. The U.S. is not good at fighting guerrilla wars. If we sent in the Army, we'd get the same treatment the Russians got.

However, I wouldn't mind if the CIA sent their dirty tricks squads to Afghanistan and declared open season on the Taliban. Between funding the resistance groups, distributing leaflets about what the Taliban are really like, and spiking Mullah Omar's tea with LSD, they could cause some real havoc.

[ Parent ]

I can smash my car if I want to, too. (3.61 / 13) (#4)
by Greyjack on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 11:24:38 PM EST

Say the Brits voted some loony political party into power, and they decided to knock down Stonehenge so's that they could put up a strip mall. It would be a travesty, yes, but would you advocate invasion to stop them?

While it's a terrible, terrible loss to the world's cultural history, fact o' the matter is that the Taliban is in power, and they can do this if they damned well please. Yes, it sucks.

However, if the world can't be bothered to step in to save the lives of millions from starvation, AIDS, or their own government (cf Cambodia under Pol Pot), I think it's a little naive to hope anyone will do anything over some statues.

(Slightly off the rant here, but man, is everyone as totally jaded these days as I am, or am I just fscked in the head? It actually bothered me for a whole two minutes or so that I really didn't care what happens to these statues. But, that's gone now, so I can go back to drinking beer and playing Diablo2. Two cheers for the soft, shallow Western lifestyle!)

--
Here is my philosophy: Everything changes (the word "everything" has just changed as the word "change" has: it now means "no change") --Ron Padgett


Completely different (none / 0) (#75)
by DoubleEdd on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 06:55:49 AM EST

Say the Brits voted some loony political party into power

The Taliban weren't voted in.

[ Parent ]

What part of "Sovereign Nation" ... (3.15 / 13) (#11)
by the Epopt on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 12:29:02 AM EST

... don't you understand? "[N]o military intervention against the Taliban is undereway [sic]...." As if that were a bad thing.

If the US decides to drill for oil in northern Alaska, will you urge China to invade and protect the caribou?
--  
Most people who need to be shot need to be shot soon and a lot.
Very few people need to be shot later or just a little.

K5_Arguing_HOWTO

What about Hitler? (2.80 / 5) (#18)
by Eloquence on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 02:15:26 AM EST

OK, you may say Hitler invaded other countries, but what if he had only killed the Jews in Germany? Sovereign country? I disagree. In case of serious human rights violations, intervention is necessary. The Taliban have committed several serious human rights violations, and now they're even set to irreparably destroying historical treasures of unmeasuarble worth (which alone should probably not be a base for military action, but for total economic and political isolation).

These people have to be stopped. While I am the first to say that other alternatives should be sought first (and these have certainly not been explored yet), I also believe that the world community has a right and duty to stop a country from massive serious human rights violations. In the case of Iraq, the US agree -- in the case of Afghanistan, they disagree.
--
Copyright law is bad: infoAnarchy · Pleasure is good: Origins of Violence
spread the word!
[ Parent ]

Godwin's Law (4.00 / 3) (#31)
by wiredog on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 08:56:35 AM EST

That said, if Hitler had stayed in Germany the rest of the world would have done nothing. In fact, it wasn't until he went into the third country (Poland) that anything was done. The British and French allowed him to take Checoslovakia (damn, I know I spelled that wrong, there's a 'z' in there somewhere) and Austria. In the 30's 'appeasement' was considered a Good Thing.

The idea of a global village is wrong, it's more like a gazillion pub bars.
Phage
[ Parent ]

The trouble with Godwin's Law. (4.33 / 3) (#40)
by marlowe on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 11:15:55 AM EST

Some people really *are* kind of like Hitler. And what are we supposed to say then?

Also, I'd have gladly intervened on the part of the Jews in Germany, if they had chosen to fight. But as Rubenstein has pointed out in The Cunning of History, it was the Jews that chose appeasement. The stance of the Rabbis amounted to: "Let's go quietly along to the labor camps, and if we're very very good maybe they won't kill us." A disastrous choice indeed, but it was theirs to make.

They had nothing to lose by fighting back, except their wishful thinking. Even if they'd fought and been killed, it would have been a much better death.

-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
[ Parent ]
RE: The trouble (none / 0) (#72)
by wiredog on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 10:37:31 PM EST

Yes, some people are like Hitler. Which is why we intervened in the Balkans. Far later than we should have.

Some of the jews did fight. And died. The Warsaw Ghetto, for instance. The memories of what happened, how the rest of the world refused to intervene, and, yes, how many of them refused to resist, colors Israeli, and American, reactions to this day. One only has to look at the current Israeli leadership to see the results of their fear of another holocaust. That fear justified by the statements of many Palestinian, and other, leaders. The continued support of the United States for Israel, when strict 'nations don't have friends,they have interests' realpolitik would indicate support of the Arabs, is the reaction of the United States to the holocaust.

The idea of a global village is wrong, it's more like a gazillion pub bars.
Phage
[ Parent ]

Appeasement (none / 0) (#55)
by Eloquence on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 03:07:45 PM EST

I agree that they would have done nothing if the destruction of the Jews would have been limited to Germany and no other countries would have been invaded. But I ask you and all others who think that the human rights violations committed by the Taliban should go unanswered: Do you think that they should have done nothing in this case? Let them slaughter the Jews, it's their territory?
--
Copyright law is bad: infoAnarchy · Pleasure is good: Origins of Violence
spread the word!
[ Parent ]
20/20 Hindsight (none / 0) (#70)
by wiredog on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 10:28:26 PM EST

Is one of the reasons we intervened in the Balkans. I'm reading The Making of the Atomic Bomb and there are some interesting parallels between Milosovic/Serbia and Hitler/Germany. Some differences, as well. Note, however, that no one intervened when the Hutus and Tutsis went at each other. Of course, they weren't white. OK, a bit cynical, perhaps, and there were logistical reasons for not going in there. The question is: Do we want to impose a 'Pax Americana' or is it a case of 'friends of freedom everywhere, but guarantors only of our own.' And it's a tough question. The question with afghanistan is, is there anything we can do, that we aren't already doing? Military power won't work, the Russians showed that, and we have no trade or diplomatic relations to cut off.

In the case of Germany in the 30s, the French, British, and Americans could have done something, and they had the right under treaties to do so. But they didn't. They were more afraid of war then of the consequences of peace. In the end, appeasment doesn't work. "Once one pays danegeld, one never gets rid of the dane." Note, also, that the forces of appeasement are in full flower in regards to Iraq. Good or bad, and there are sensible arguments on both sides, the sanctions are failing and the consequences will have to be dealt with.

The idea of a global village is wrong, it's more like a gazillion pub bars.
Phage
[ Parent ]

Options (3.66 / 9) (#13)
by spaceghoti on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 01:02:28 AM EST

The Taliban represents one of the darker sides of religious fanatacism. No longer concerned with their own souls, they're going to literally knock down your door to make sure your soul fits their idea of purity. As a political power, this is abusive and devastating.

That said, I agree with Signal 11 completely. We do nothing. Not a blessed thing. We can protest reckless destruction of historical treasures and offer to buy and remove the items threatened rather than allow them to be destroyed. We can impose political and economic sanctions on the country, point out to them that they're allowed to rule as they see fit but that doesn't mean we have to be a party to their abuses. And we can promote a huge propaganda campaign to attempt to educate people all over the world (not just the Taliban and their victims) how non-violent communication and cooperation can benefit everyone far more than oppressive dictatorships and threats of violence.

Beyond that, nothing. No military action. No attempts at espionage or coups. Without a direct invitation from the people of Afghanistan, our hands are literally and figuratively tied. Our responsibility or lack thereof in this matter is now moot: we cannot compound our previous mistakes with yet another one. It would be immoral and hypocritical, and I stand against it. Alerting us to this issue is good. Knowing who is behaving with inhumane cruelty toward the people they are supposed to be protecting warns us who we need to watch out for, and reminds us that such barbarism (I agree with the reasoning behind the use of this word) is still with us and capable of sprouting at any time. We should always be alert for such things, and ready to act when appropriate, not just when we're able.

Ah, the joys of being a citizen of a world power. Learning what to do, and more importantly, what not to do.



"Humor. It is a difficult concept. It is not logical." -Saavik, ST: Wrath of Khan

Which option (2.50 / 2) (#25)
by Vulch on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 07:11:18 AM EST

A bit of an unfortunate clash between the sentiment of your comment and the tagline you used...

Anthony


[ Parent ]
i voted this down.. (3.42 / 7) (#15)
by rebelcool on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 01:39:09 AM EST

but i wish i hadnt. After reading the story on CNN and thinking about it, you're right. Those people are barbarians. Destroying ancient beautiful works of art just because they're from a different philosophy is no less barbaric than the invaders who stormed europe hundreds of years ago, and the crusades of the middle ages.

It's reprehensible that in this day and age such ignorant zealots can actually be in charge of a country.

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site

or for that matter... (none / 0) (#46)
by Estanislao Martínez on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 12:44:48 PM EST

Destroying ancient beautiful works of art just because they're from a different philosophy is no less barbaric than the invaders who stormed europe hundreds of years ago, and the crusades of the middle ages.

Or the US territorial expansion on native american territory during the 19th century, for that matter.

I wouldn't go around pointing fingers if I were you...

--em
[ Parent ]

indeed. (none / 0) (#47)
by rebelcool on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 01:59:17 PM EST

All for the name of taking land. Of course its unfair to judge by the sins of the fathers, but in afghanistan its happening *right now*.

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site
[ Parent ]

my point... (3.00 / 1) (#56)
by Estanislao Martínez on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 03:08:34 PM EST

All for the name of taking land.

There was also plenty of talk about "civilizing the barbarians/brutes/primitives".

Of course its unfair to judge by the sins of the fathers, but in afghanistan its happening *right now*.

The point was not how you should judge the actions of the US govt. and colonists in the 19th century and their descendents, nor what to do about the ongoing human rights abuses in Afghanistan. The point is that it's morally quite wrong, IMHO, to go around calling these people "barbarians", as if the history of your country were the specimen of a perfect civilization, when, in fact, it was built upon the systematic destruction of other cultures.

--em
[ Parent ]

hm.. (none / 0) (#74)
by rebelcool on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 03:40:50 AM EST

did i say it was any less barbaric? Both are instances of barbarism.

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site
[ Parent ]

I'm glad that this is finally making it .. (2.71 / 7) (#16)
by Eloquence on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 01:56:28 AM EST

.. to the front pages: While I had to dig out the original article from the archive, CNN now has an article with many quotes, including a photo of one of the Buddha statues. Some statues in museums have already been destroyed, but perhaps all is not lost yet.
--
Copyright law is bad: infoAnarchy · Pleasure is good: Origins of Violence
spread the word!
Come on, it's rocks! (3.72 / 11) (#17)
by bjrubble on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 01:57:57 AM EST

I think it's crazy that there are living, breathing people being terrorized, beaten and killed in that living hell, and the world gets outraged when a couple of carved rocks get threatened.

Besides, it's the Buddha. A Buddha that lasts forever can't really be the Buddha.

I find it interesting, though, that at least by this account it's "human likenesses of divinity" the Taliban can't abide, so I guess they do regard the Buddha as divine.

not just divine portrayals (4.50 / 6) (#23)
by Delirium on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 05:37:19 AM EST

From what I've read they're basing their actions on an injunction in Islamic law against any portrayals of the human form. (This is why Islamic art typically emphasizes non-representational art such as caligraphy and geometric patterns).

However, several Muslim intellectuals claim that this injunction does not require Muslims to destroy representations made by other cultures, only to refrain from making any themselves (which is why even many predominantly Muslim countries have condemned the Taliban's actions).

[ Parent ]

In Defense of the Taliban (2.28 / 25) (#20)
by Lode Runner on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 03:41:50 AM EST

Morally speaking, what the Taliban is doing is absolutely right. The Koran, which is the Word of God (who is unquestionably Good), states explicitly that people are never, ever to worship images of God: "Thy lord has decreed, that ye worship none save Him."

Worshipping a figurine is just about the worst kind of blasphemy. "Lo, God forgiveth not that a partner should be ascribed unto him." If the figurine resembles a person so much the worse; anthropomorphizing a truly infinite God is about as barbaric as one can get for it traps the worshipper into thinking that he can understand the divine in the same way he can understand the mundane. I can think of no greater horror than that of a soul becoming trapped in the prison of its own artifice.

We should be thanking the Taliban for removing from the world an edifice that could poison minds and prevent souls from truly submitting themselves to God, the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One, Peace, the Keeper of the Faith, the Guardian, the Majestic, the Compeller, the Superb...

Instead, the heathens scorn the righteous as "barbarians". Does a barbarian chose to save a statue before a soul?



Yes, but ... (1.80 / 5) (#21)
by DeHans on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 04:37:50 AM EST

The statues are boedhist statues, not islamitic. The Taliban *is* islamitic. Therefore they are destroying the icons of another religion.

At the least that is intolerant, at the worst (which it probably is) it is the state-led prosecution of another religion.

[ Parent ]
yes (4.00 / 5) (#24)
by Delirium on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 05:42:43 AM EST

At the least that is intolerant, at the worst (which it probably is) it is the state-led prosecution of another religion.

You say this as if you don't think the Taliban would agree with you. They are very much in favor of state-led persecution of other religions; in fact turning Afghanistan into a strict Islamic state is pretty much their only reason for existance.

[ Parent ]

Poorly executed (4.20 / 5) (#22)
by plastik55 on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 05:00:47 AM EST

Trolling in the tradition of Signal 11requires that people take a while to realise that your post was a troll--preferably they don't realize it until after they've responded.

Accordingly, your post is not nearly subtle enough to be a good troll. Keep working at it, though, you show promise;)
w00t!
[ Parent ]

Not a Troll (2.85 / 7) (#44)
by Lode Runner on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 12:09:23 PM EST

Why do you think I'm trolling?

I was merely trying to get another viewpoint on the table because I was sick and tired of the lack of insight on these boards. All I hear from the Americans is: "Help! Violation of Free Speech! Oh these guys are worse Microsoft and RIAA and all those other nasty people who take away my God-given right to pirate DVDs." Meanwhile the Europeans and Canadians, with their supposedly broader scope, are yelping, "This article is Americentric! Why are imperialist USians always telling others what to do? Oh, the hypocrisy! Look at all the Native American things US destoyed..."

People were criticing each others' criticism but they were not talking about the underlying theological reasons for the Taliban's actions.

So I expressed a view that is incompatible with most K5ers and I'm dismissed as a troll.

p.s. - If I'd wanted to troll, I'd have defended the Taliban on the grounds that they are bulwark against American aggression and Microsoft. I would have concluded that the Taliban is like the Linux community: well-intentioned but sometimes a little over-zealous (because their cause is so just.)



[ Parent ]

tone and style suggest a troll (4.00 / 1) (#49)
by Anonymous 242 on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 02:24:28 PM EST

Your original comment appears to be a troll not so much because of the viewpoint it expresses but because of the way it is expressed. Your post explicitly declares that the Taliban is correct in its treatment of women and people whom the Taliban construe as being idolators. (Given that classical Buddhism is athesistic, the destruction of statues of Buddha seems a bit misguided.)

If you wrote some commentary on why you thought the Taliban had every right to make law as they please based on their religion in their country, you likely would not have been labeled a troll. As is your comment uncritically supports actions seen as vile and unjust by the majority of the the people on k5. If you want to broaden people's horizons, take the effort to elequently and thoroughly expound on the reasons the Taliban is just in their practices instead of putting up a post that comes off like a half-cocked, crazed maniac ready to literally destroy anone that disagree's with the God's Revealed Truth.

[ Parent ]

tone and style suggest you're a nihilist (1.00 / 2) (#69)
by Lode Runner on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 10:18:31 PM EST

Your original comment appears to be a troll not so much because of the viewpoint it expresses but because of the way it is expressed. Your post explicitly declares that the Taliban is correct in its treatment of women and people whom the Taliban construe as being idolators. (Given that classical Buddhism is athesistic, the destruction of statues of Buddha seems a bit misguided.)

The Taliban is an absolutist group and when you think in absolutes one must speak in simple, absolute terms. That you view the bluntness of the Truth as "extremist" speaks volumes of the delusions you must hold. Pluralism, nihilism, atheism... what else is in your head?

Obviously you have it in the Taliban, immediately slandering them as misogynists and hate-filled bigots. They have empowered women in a way that Western feminists can't even conceive.

Also, I have explained in another thread that while Buddhism is itself atheistic, its spiritual aspects contradict and interfere with the all-important process of realizing God and your relation to Him.

If you wrote some commentary on why you thought the Taliban had every right to make law as they please based on their religion in their country, you likely would not have been labeled a troll. As is your comment uncritically supports actions seen as vile and unjust by the majority of the the people on k5. If you want to broaden people's horizons, take the effort to elequently and thoroughly expound on the reasons the Taliban is just in their practices instead of putting up a post that comes off like a half-cocked, crazed maniac ready to literally destroy anone that disagrees with the God's Revealed Truth.

The Taliban's actions cannot be justified in terms that most K5 users would find acceptable. Most K5ers subscribe to the believe that the U.S. Constitution and U.N. Human Rights Charter (based on 1793 Declaration) are the absolute authority of what is right and wrong. Certainly, these worldy documents are compatible with the Koran to an extent, but they also offer protection to actions that the righteous view as evil. The freedom to worship idols is one of such incompatibility.

My point: if you were to show up in Kabul with a copy of the UN Charter and demand that the Taliban stop destroying icons because "it's against human rights" your argument would fall on deaf ears. You'd be viewed by the intelligent, thinking people who lead the Taliban as a "half-cocked, crazed maniac."

The Taliban has a very clear notion of human rights and they'd be committing an unforgivable sin if they chose to abide by your human-devised laws and "morals" and permit idols to stand. Perhaps now you can see why the Taliban won't bargain with West the way "more civilized" nations do.



[ Parent ]

Buddha is not a god (4.83 / 6) (#27)
by ogfomk on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 07:45:27 AM EST

In the name of Allah, the benificent and merciful.

The Buddha is not a god. The Buddha, literally means, one who is "awake". The statues are a sales pitch, so no true Buddhist would mind that they were torn down. As a matter of fact, they might help.

What is most unfortunate is that the people who have derived energy and peace from the motivational image of Siddhartha Gautama will no longer be able to refer to that reference. The image is just another form of writing.

The Koran leads us to understand that Allah is in control of everything. It also leads us to understand that he (Allah) has sent many messengers to many different peoples. It is possible that we do not understand the other messengers, but the Koran clearly states that every people on the planet have been sent a messenger of Allah. Muhammed is the last one.

It is more important for us all to improve the wealth of our families and community than to waste energy destroying civilization. If you support the destruction of the iconographic Buddha, I worry more so that you will have to answer to Allah.
This is my opinion. I am not liable for any disclosed information.
[ Parent ]

The Problem with Buddha (2.00 / 3) (#68)
by Lode Runner on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 09:53:48 PM EST

The Buddha is not a god. The Buddha, literally means, one who is "awake". The statues are a sales pitch, so no true Buddhist would mind that they were torn down. As a matter of fact, they might help.

Buddha is not a god and is not revered as one. But he is used as a spiritual role model, which is a bad thing. Why? Because one cannot entirely surrender to God if one is also trying to achieve Buddhist enlightenment. The Buddhist denial of existence directly contradicts the Koran's emphasis on the importance of one's deeds in the physical world.

What is most unfortunate is that the people who have derived energy and peace from the motivational image of Siddhartha Gautama will no longer be able to refer to that reference. The image is just another form of writing.

It is sad that people are being misled as such. That's the reason these idols must come down. They're dangerous, maybe not politically, but certainly spiritually.

The Koran leads us to understand that Allah is in control of everything. It also leads us to understand that he (Allah) has sent many messengers to many different peoples. It is possible that we do not understand the other messengers, but the Koran clearly states that every people on the planet have been sent a messenger of Allah. Muhammed is the last one.

Buddha was certainly around before Muhammed, but he is not ever mentioned in the Koran. Although every person is in a sense God's vessel, I doubt the Buddha was a prophet. Too much of what he says contradicts the tenets of the Koran.

Moreover, the very emphasis on the person (or spirit, if you like) of Buddha is problematic. Muslims are not supposed to attribute any special properties or powers to Muhammed; it is, in fact, heresy to compare human Muhammed to the quasi-divine Buddha. Followers of Shia have warped Islam in this sense, but the Taliban is actively countering this grave threat as well.

It is more important for us all to improve the wealth of our families and community than to waste energy destroying civilization. If you support the destruction of the iconographic Buddha, I worry more so that you will have to answer to Allah.

I do not understand how tearing down barbarous idols is "saving civilization." Rather, the destruction of idols is an act of civilizing.

As for answering to God, those who worship idols or prevent their destruction will be judged harshly for their kabirah in the hereafter:

... We shall expose them to the [eternal] Fire. As often as their skins are consumed We shall exchange them for fresh skins that they may taste the torment...



[ Parent ]

About the destruction of idols. (4.00 / 1) (#77)
by hjones on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 09:24:51 AM EST

To say that the destruction of anything is an act of civilizing is very dangerous rhetoric. Even if it might sometimes be true.
"Nietzsche is dead, but given the way of men, there may still be caves for thousands of years in which his shadow will be shown. And we -- we small-minded weaklings, we still have to vanquish his shadow too." - The Antinietzsche
[ Parent ]
Umm, no (4.00 / 10) (#26)
by kaboom on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 07:31:07 AM EST

You assert that "like Christians of the Dark Ages, the Taliban argue that pictures are a form of worshipping and should therefore be eliminated." That's not in any way an accurate characterization of Christianity of that time period. Just look at illuminations in the Bibles of the time, for example.

Unfortunately, you're wrong (3.33 / 3) (#50)
by Eloquence on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 02:31:29 PM EST

Which bibles? Even at the height of the Dark Ages, the biggest libraries held hundreds of books -- not hundreds of thousands like in ancient times before. Many of the greatest libraries were destroyed by Christian mobs, including the Library of Alexandria, which held 700,000 volumes (the administrator of the library of that time, a woman named Hypatia, was skinned alive and burned by Christians).

Like the Taliban, the Dark Age Christians destroyed large parts of what they saw as "heathen" culture: statues, pictures, books, houses, entire libraries. Sure, the Bibles you could (many hundred years later, around ~1000-1200 AD) find in the richest monasteries were carefully crafted, but regular citizens had been prohibited from even owning a normal Bible. You can imagine how pictures of different religious convictions were treated. The ruling class is always held to different standards: I would not be surprised if you'd find TV sets and American magazines in the houses of the Taliban leaders.

I have done a comprehensive comparison of "art" from the Dark Ages with art of ancient times. The so-called art from 600-1200 AD is often reminiscent of early cave paintings, or the first drawing attempts by a three-year old. It lacks any understanding of perspective, colors or the objects they were supposed to represent. Pictures like this or this (1028 AD) are examples of higher quality. Compare this with ancient wall paintings or statues (which were, by the way, carefully painted, so they looked a little like wax figures). Moreover, there nearly are no pictures of the time period 600-1000. One of the reasons the Dark Ages are called the Dark Ages (and some thinkers of the Renaissance were the first to use that term) is that we have virtually no information about a lot of that time, because there is no written material! Most of the pictures you will find are from 1200-1400, where Europe already began to see light again. Apologetic postmodern art scholars say this is because the Middle Ages had their own "style" and tried to do something new compared to the classical Roman style. Yeah, right.

The Dark Ages were a time of self-chastisement, murder, massive persecution of people of other religious or scientific convictions, belief in religious healing instead of medicine, belief in witches and demons, destruction of knowledge, illiteracy. But this is not taught in school. When we were taught about the Middle Ages, we had to learn the names of all the kings of the different dynasties, and all the little wars and skirmishes among them -- nothing was said about the loss of culture from ancient times. We are forgetting our own history, and are therefore not realizing when it repeats itself elsewhere. And postmodernists of various sorts try to explain to us that there is really no big difference between ancient times and the Middle Ages, that people just happened to believe in different things (and that the change of beliefs was, of course, an evolutionary development, a simple change of convictions without any blood spilled). Likewise, with the Taliban, many people say that it's just people who believe in different things and that we should let them be.

As for religious fundamentalism in Europe or the United States, these people have already burned books they didn't like. Together with feminists, fundamentalists have even burned down whole bookstores (like the First Amendment Bookstore in New York City) because they sold "pornography". Even in post-war Germany, books were burned -- comic books -- by the church and the conservative ruling party because they were "corrupting the youth", giving them the wrong values and religious ideas. How is this different from saying that pictures are corrupting people? And what about the religious fundamentalists who even selectively kill doctors who perform abortions, or blow up hospitals? Are these people really that far from seeing a danger in every hospital? How many million dollars would you need to turn America's most radical religious fundamentalists into a guerilla fighting for the one and true God? How much social disorder is necessary before such a change can happen without a central control in place to stop it?

It is time to learn from our own history. This is one of the reasons that freedom of speech on the Net is so important. But religious fundamentalists (some of them have put a "Black Ribbon" on their homepages to demonstrate for censorship) are again pleading for stronger control to prevent the distribution of -- pictures: child pornography, violence, bestiality .. They want filters in every library and every school and, eventually, on every router, filters that burn the pages before they reach the reader.
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[ Parent ]

Your Misperceptions are Stunning (5.00 / 1) (#62)
by Robert Uhl on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 05:25:56 PM EST

You do realise that the Dark Ages were not the fault of Christianity, but their effects were tempered by the same? They were caused by the internal weakening of the Roman Empire and the consequent rise of the (pagan) Germans, who eventually did away with Rome. The small libraries were run by the Christian monks in a desperate attempt to preserve learning as the civil authority withered away. Much learning was destroyed in raids by pagan Vikings. No-one was prohibited from owning a Bible,as you so spuriously claim--but most could not read, and those few who could were not often rich enough to afford a hand-copied Bible (for comparison, a modern-day illuminated Bible was commissioned for roughly $2.3 million). Of course, in the interest of accuracy the Bible was only written in Latin--but then, Latin was known to anyone who could read anyway. Translations leads to errors. For example, the word `blessing' actually means to sprinkle with blood IIRC--but the Greek and Latin equivalents mean to `speak something good.'

We Christians have done plenty of things which are shameful. There's no need to invent things. Of course, we've done a lot les shameful things than other groups, and more than still others. It happens. Interestingly, all the shameful things we've done are considered wrong under our own law--not everyone can say that. What it works out to is that those Christians who have behaved despicably have not behaved as Christians.

I would indeed be surprised to find the Taliban leaders with TV sets or American magazines. But that's because I've been studying them since 1996. They are essentially Islamic seminarians--students of the Koran. They actually believe what they're fighting for. They're wrong, but they are not hypocrites. They have caused a tremendous amount of damage, but under their assumptions they have been trying to do good. Their assumptions are incorrect, of course. As to wether or not they are proper assumptions for Moslems, I cannot say. It is illuminating, though, that other Moslems have condemned their actions.

Zealous theists are so often keen to throw stones at believers of all stripes, and yet so slow to admit that belief does not imply evil-doing

[ Parent ]

Misperceptions (5.00 / 1) (#81)
by spaceghoti on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 03:34:50 AM EST

Actually, Eloquence hit the nail on the head. Western Christianity, once it ceased to be a persecuted cult and recognized as a valid religious belief, took on the characteristics (which includes the corruption) of the Roman Empire. Did you ever wonder why so many of the "Christian" holidays we observe these days coincide so very closely with pagan holy days? Many of the rituals practiced by the Roman Catholic Church are taken directly from pagan rituals, in particular the ritual of Transubstantiation, whereby the circular wafer becomes the Body of Christ.

Rome didn't fall at once. It rotted from the inside and began to depend on the "barbarian" societies it had conquered to defend them. By the time the Goths sacked Rome, the majority of the Legions were composed of non-Roman soldiers who weren't as enthusiastic about defending the country against their own bretheren. The state religion was in pretty much the same condition, with political infighting and accusations of heresy thrown everywhere. When everything finally fell apart, the western world fell into a darkness of mind and spirit, where they took everything that was given to them by their rulers and priests without question. This was, of course, good for the Church because it allowed them to dictate their personal beliefs and morality without question. By the time John Wycliff began to translate the accepted books of the Bible from Latin to English in the Fourteenth Century, the Church was so entrenched in their stranglehold over people's minds that they blocked and discredited Wycliff's work at every turn. It's said that after Wycliff's death, the Pope was so incensed over Wycliff's blasphemy that he ordered the bones dug up, crushed and scattered in a river. The Church did not want the common man to attempt personal interpretations of faith or independent thinking, that was their job exclusively.

At every turn in human history, social evolution has been pulled back and held down by those in authority, because change means they no longer get to enforce their beliefs and values on the world. Hundreds of years of war have been fought in the Western World because two neighbors couldn't agree over the same interpretation of faith, a practice that has continued through to this day. The Taliban is just the latest example of the extremes that religious fanatics will go to. Do you think burning of art and writing in Fifteenth Century Italy was just a cookout by the Medicis? Or that it was the only time Christians tried to punish people for not believing what they believed? Go look up the old Mithras religion, if you think that.

We Christians have done plenty of things which are shameful. There's no need to invent things. Of course, we've done a lot les shameful things than other groups, and more than still others.

No one is arguing the former. I would argue about the latter; I think the Christian religion is in the running for first place of atrocities committed against a very broad range of people. I also believe that "you Christians" are still at it. Why? Read on.

Interestingly, all the shameful things we've done are considered wrong under our own law--not everyone can say that.


Then why are you still justifying what's being done in the name of your God today? Legislation against "sinful" behavior, barricades and bombings of medical clinics and one of my favorites, trying to outlaw Wiccans.
They actually believe what they're fighting for. They're wrong, but they are not hypocrites.

That's nice. I don't care if they're doing it because they're hypocrites or devout. I care that they're imposing their beliefs and their values to such a degree that they're actually destroying a part of world history and culture. I admire anyone for their willingness to stand for their faith, but I draw the line when they feel so insecure about the strength of their beliefs that they must take away someone else's ability to choose. If they cannot present their beliefs and values in such a way that a person would willingly choose their path, it is no longer their concern. Ripping down statues, burning books or passing legislation to criminalize freedom of choice crosses the line and reminds me why I consider organized religion to be one of the childish behaviors we as a people need to grow out of.



"Humor. It is a difficult concept. It is not logical." -Saavik, ST: Wrath of Khan

[ Parent ]
Puritanism (4.63 / 11) (#28)
by Beorn on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 08:50:14 AM EST

Still, no military intervention against the Taliban is undereway. Protected and tolerated by the West, they have decided to destroy thousand-year-old culture. It is obvious that nothing will be done to prevent this. How can we stop this from happening in the future? What if fundamentalists like the Taliban take power in other countries?

I don't buy the domino theory. The Taliban is not protected by the west, (at best ignored), and I don't think anyone has a responsibility to save other nations from their own stupidities. Granted, there's propably a large silenced opposition in Afghanistan right now, but this is one case where all the civilized world can do is watch the barbarians, and hope they repent.

Iran is clearly moving in the other direction, with somewhat westernized youth and a moderately moderate president starting to oppose the puritan patriarchs. And if anything is ever teared down in Israel, World War III would break out and at least one God and several major prophets would come down and smite somebody real hard.

As for fundamentalism in America and Europe, I have no idea what you're talking about. Puritanism on the scale of Taliban is very rare in religion, including christianity, and if you think there's a real danger of western christians tearing down statues and burning cinemas, then you're reading the wrong pamphlets.

- Beorn

[ Threepwood '01 ]

Fundamentalism (2.33 / 3) (#51)
by Rand Race on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 02:41:15 PM EST

"Puritanism on the scale of Taliban is very rare in religion, including christianity, and if you think there's a real danger of western christians tearing down statues and burning cinemas, then you're reading the wrong pamphlets."

Western christians tore down all the statues they didn't like 1500 years ago; about the same time they burned down the Library of Alexandria. However, the mayor of New York City is currently trying to remove artwork that offends his tender christian sensibilities... again. As for cinemas, religous nuts threw a firebomb at a theatre showing the Last Temptation of Christ in my own hometown. Of course around here they have a lot of practice from throwing firebombs at gay clubs, black churches, and abortion clinics. As far as I am concerned the Southern Baptist Convention is easily as capable of theocratic dictatorship as the Taliban is.


"Question with boldness even the existence of God; because if there be one, He must approve the homage of Reason rather than that of blindfolded Fear." - Thomas Jefferson
[ Parent ]

Wrong, wrong, wrong (2.50 / 6) (#57)
by Robert Uhl on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 03:18:28 PM EST

You are truly bigoted, aren't you? It was not the Christians who burnt the Library at Alexandria. The Roman Empire in the East (aka the Byzantine Empire), which was Christian, protected and used the Library. It was not until it was driven out of Egypt by Mohammedans that the library was destroyed. The Moslems burnt the books because anything not in the Koran is false, and anything in the Koran is already available, by their reckoning. The famed Moslem learning and sophistication were really due to a softening of this line of thought combined with what little of the ancient world survived destruction at Moslem hands after being preserved by Christians and pagans for centuries.

[ Parent ]
Wrong indeed (3.66 / 3) (#58)
by Eloquence on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 03:40:41 PM EST

The majority of the library was destroyed shortly after the adminstrator, a woman named Hypatia, had been killed by Christians. It was only the last remains of the library that were destroyed by invading Arabs:

The Patriarch exercised ever more control of the city, and the conflict between secular and religious authority was decided in 415, when the Roman prefect Orestes, officially still in charge of the province, objected to Cyril's order that all Jews be expelled from the city. Cyril's army of monks murdered the prefect and were cannonized by him for this deed; marauding through the city they came across Hypatia, daughter of the Museum's last great mathematician Theon. She was a Neoplatonist philosopher and astronomer whose teachings are partially recorded by one of her admirers and pupils, the Christian Synesius, and she was also supposedly an advisor to Orestes and one of the last members of the Museum. Driving home from her own lectures without attendant, this independent woman and scholar epitomized the suspect nature of Paganism and its heretical scientific teachings. She was dragged from her chariot by the mob, stripped, flayed, and finally burned alive in the library of the Caesareum as a witch. Cyril was made a saint.[58] After her death Alexandria became steadily less stable, overrun by the monks who evolved into the Copts, who incorporated the old Alexandrian prejudices towards foreigners with the new prejudice towards any scientific or classical knowledge. Too turbulent even to bow to the Emperor, Alexandria eventually revolted against Constantinople, wound up with two factions contending between two Patriarchs, and eventually fell to Arab conquerers, who had the last of the Library burned as fuel in the bath-houses of the city in 686.[59]

(from here).
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[ Parent ]

Do Your Research, Bigot (3.20 / 5) (#61)
by Robert Uhl on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 05:00:22 PM EST

How about doing your research? Go to this site, which contains many different texts on the incident. Exercise your historical skills. Here are some interesting notes:
  • Some say Cyril was responsible for this outrage; others blame the Alexandrians' innate ferocity and violent tendencies for they dealt with many of their bishops in the same manner, for example George and Proterius[1
  • And surely nothing can be farther from the spirit of Christianity than the allowance of massacres, fights, and transactions of that sort.[2]
  • [1] states that Cyril plotted her murder.
  • [2] states that a man named Peter caused her murder.
  • [3] states that this Peter was a magistrate.
  • The reported means of her death varies.
  • Nowhere are monks reputed to have taken part as you maliciously. This makes sense--monks in the East cannot even kill beasts, much less human beings.

Actually reading more of your source might have been of use to you. According to it, it was the pagan Caracalla who cut funding from the library, which `seems to have survived' his sacking of Alexandria. The foul author of some of the worst persecutions of Christians, Diocletian, burnt all books on metallurgy. Although its scholarship is in many parts suspect (I don't think the author fully understands what monks are and were), it acknowledges that the nature of the city of Alexandria itself was largely to blame for the downfall of the Library.

More to the point, throughout your posts you have demonstrated a most virulent and unwarranted hatred of Christianity, coupled with a devastating ignorance of the same. Virulent atheists are no better than any other zealot, a fact you have made all-too-clear in your postings.

[ Parent ]

Typical revisionism (4.50 / 4) (#63)
by Eloquence on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 05:42:44 PM EST

Yes, it's a nice excuse to blame it on the "innate ferocity" of the Alexandrians (strange that the library could survive so long at all, in a city infested by savages!). Of course the evidence clearly says otherwise. To give you another summary, as Gibbon writes in The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire:

Hypatia, the daughter of Theon the mathematician, ^25 was initiated in her father's studies; her learned comments have elucidated the geometry of Apollonius and Diophantus, and she publicly taught, both at Athens and Alexandria, the philosophy of Plato and Aristotle. In the bloom of beauty, and in the maturity of wisdom, the modest maid refused her lovers and instructed her disciples; the persons most illustrious for their rank or merit were impatient to visit the female philosopher; and Cyril beheld, with a jealous eye, the gorgeous train of horses and slaves who crowded the door of her academy. A rumor was spread among the Christians, that the daughter of Theon was the only obstacle to the reconciliation of the praefect and the archbishop; and that obstacle was speedily removed. On a fatal day, in the holy season of Lent, Hypatia was torn from her chariot, stripped naked, dragged to the church, and inhumanly butchered by the hands of Peter the reader, and a troop of savage and merciless fanatics: her flesh was scraped from her bones with sharp cyster shells, ^26 and her quivering limbs were delivered to the flames.

Then you quote a Christian scholar as saying that the murder and the destruction of the library were not in the spirit of Christianity. Many Islamic scholars point out that the deeds committed by the Taliban are not in the spirit of Islam. But that is, obviously, completely besides the point.. "Now this Peter was a perfect believer in all respects in Jesus Christ", as your [3] points out.

"Nowhere are monks reputed to have taken part as you maliciously", you say, while even the site you reference writes that "the situation reached a tragic conclusion when a band of Christian monks seized Hypatia on the street, beat her, and dragged her body to a church where they mutilated her flesh with sharp tiles and burned her remains." Whether it truly were monks or a Christian mob, I have not studied the sources enough to say so, at that time, it really made not such a big difference. Monks and Saints were experts in self-chastisement (some had even formed their private little castration cults) and often rabid fanatics.

What you and the people of your ilk are doing is nothing but a dangerous form of historical revisionism. You accuse me of being an ignorant zealot, yet you have displayed an astonishing amount of selective perception when it comes to the deeds of Christianity. People like you are the intellectual arsonists -- denying history is the best way to repeat it.
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[ Parent ]

Religion vs puritanism (none / 0) (#66)
by Beorn on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 07:39:11 PM EST

You're clearly seeing religion from so far away that all the details and nuances have blurred together into one large mass of evil and stupidity. Taliban puritanism and average christianity is as far apart as, well, Afghanistan and Norway.

You're right that the Taliban moslems follow a standard of religious warfare upheld by christianity wherever it has spread: threats and violence, destroying the traditions and symbols you can't steal, and so on. But violent believers aren't necessarily puritan - puritanism is more about how you practice your own faith, (or force your followers to practice theirs), than how you fight competing religions.

With puritanism I mean the belief that everything in your life should be focused on some higher, intellectual principle, and that you should avoid all possible earthly distractions from that goal. It's more than a few random rules, it's a complete mind-set that cannot be adapted to the church-once-a-week lifestyle of most christians. Millions of genuine puritans would turn over in their graves if they heard you call the relatively lenient christianity of today puritanism.

(Why you're bringing bomb-throwing psychopaths into this I don't know, and the Brooklyn Museum controversies were afaik about public funding more than freedom of speech.)

- Beorn

[ Threepwood '01 ]
[ Parent ]

It is far away to me (none / 0) (#79)
by Rand Race on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 01:59:25 PM EST

I'm not saying average christianity is anything like the Taliban, I'm saying that christianity has shown, and still shows in groups like the SBC, the potential to become as tyranical as the Taliban in enforcing their view of morality. The greatest fault I have with mainstream christianity is their aparent willingness to let the more radical elements in their religion dictate public discourse. They are endangering themselves by not contradicting the fundamentalist assertations of morality.

History has shown that for all the philosophical enlightenment of the puritans (of whatever religion), their regimes, like fundamentalist regimes, almost unfailingly devolve into theocratic tyrany. That is the comparison I was making, I certainly don't consider modern christians to be any sort of puritans.

My comments on bomb throwers was in reply to your statement that western christians wouldn't destroy artifacts that run counter to their perceived notions of morality. As for the museum thing, you are right in that it's a somewhat week example but there is no doubt that Juliani's outrage was sparked by his christian beliefs.


"Question with boldness even the existence of God; because if there be one, He must approve the homage of Reason rather than that of blindfolded Fear." - Thomas Jefferson
[ Parent ]

Voted +1 because of the thread (3.25 / 4) (#32)
by wiredog on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 09:09:33 AM EST

But I really would like to see it re-sectioned as op-ed.
...Israel tears down the Wailing Wall...

Israel wouldn't tear down the wailing wall, The mosque on the temple mount perhaps, but not the wall. Now, the Palestinians might tear the wall down.

The idea of a global village is wrong, it's more like a gazillion pub bars.
Phage

I almost cried... (4.61 / 13) (#33)
by Carnage4Life on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 09:48:30 AM EST

As someone who escaped from a repressive third world country where opponents of the government were murdered and jailed my heart goes out to the people of Afghanistan. What is truly sad about the Taliban is that they use the mask of religion to repress, abuse and mistreat their people. I remember sitting with friends back home hoping, nay praying, that we would be rescued by the Americans only to come here and realize that the chances of that were almost 0 and most Americans had never even heard of my country even though we were one of the largest and richest in Africa. I imagine the people of Afghanistan who have been overcome by these Pakistan sponsored guerrillas (the Taliban was not elected) praying in the same way for relief from the Global Village only for people to respond with "shit happens" or "without a direct request our hands are tied"

For those who claim that a "direct request from the people of Afghanistan is needed" exactly how is this supposed to be recieved? Via an email to the Pentagon signed The Afghan People? A Telegram? A postcard? Heck, a bunch of guerillas have overrun the country and are terrorizing its inhabitants yet there are those who believe that these people do not want help removing the repressive government until some amorphous entity called the Afghan People requests for help. Lots of people and groups have asked the United States help with repressive governments and in the cases where the U.S. has stepped in it has been because they had something to gain besides merely rescuing the people. Unfortunately most of the hellholes in Africa and Afghanistan are not worth the effort especially with Dubya at the helm of the country.

As for those that claim that losing ancient works of art of great archaeological value is of no consequence realize that these works of art are part of human history not just old Afghan knick knacks. I'm sure when the books in the library of Alexandria were being burned there were people saying exactly the same thing, now we've lost something we'll never regain.



The Message (2.50 / 2) (#52)
by j on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 02:47:29 PM EST

For those who claim that a "direct request from the people of Afghanistan is needed" exactly how is this supposed to be recieved?
'Lo those many years ago, the previous government of Afghanistan got the message out OK when their country was being overrun by Islamic guerillias. I'm not sure how. Snail mail? A phone call? Who knows. Their big mistake was that they got the message out to the government of the USSR. We all remember what happened then, don't we? Under the pressure of the 'civilized' western countries (and motivated by the fact that this was turning into their own little Vietnam) the USSR withdrew their forces, leaving the Afghani to fend for themselves.

Granted, it would be harder to get a message out now, what with all the government control, but it should be possible. After all, they got an email out, asking people to sign their electronic petition to end the violence against Afghani women and to forward the message to all your friends.
Don't tell me it was bogus.

[ Parent ]

Afghanistan? (3.28 / 7) (#35)
by jabber on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 10:15:54 AM EST

So the people in charge of Afghanistan are doing such horribly un-American things... In their own country even... I can appreciate the moral outrage, but let's remember, Americans, that these are the people America put in charge to fight against the Soviets not too long ago.

Just as Hussein was a US ally/puppet when the US had a beef with Iran. And since the Shaw of Iran was removed, the US-approved military government that took his place has gravely reduced the freedom of Iran's people.

While I see the destruction of history and culture disturbing, I consider the US getting bit on her principles to be strangely satisfying.

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"

Correction on Iran (none / 0) (#85)
by strlen on Tue Mar 13, 2001 at 12:51:07 PM EST

Actually the ruler is called Shah (similar to Sheikh in Arabic and Check in your chess game). And the Shah was the American supported ruler, with human rights abuses of his own. He had rather progressive social views, but his human rights record lagged far behind and he was still an absolute ruler. A parliament once took office and deposed the shah, while maintaining his progressive woman's rights and secularism policies, yet with American aid a miliatary coup overthrew the parliament and put the Shah back into place. Then the opposition really took vigor. And as repression breeds hatred, the new opposition were militant fundamentalists. There were still sensible people in the opposition, but most of them were on the far left. When Shah was deposed, a civil war basically occured afterwards and the most militant fundamentalist took power. Although they have created a sense of democracy, its own human rights abuses are quite as bad as Shah's. However, unlike Taliban they do recognize other religions and even ahteism, but tend to protect Islam and Islamic tradition such as bans on liquor and public flogging. Yet they are undergoing reform, particularly in regards of woman's rights, despite the opposition from Islamic clerics. They are still hated by Americans, because they support Hamaz and other terrorist groups. Saudi Arabia, by the way, is on a level very close to Talibs as well -- much closer the Iranians -- but it's a big friend of the United States -- human rights are not the motive behind foreign relations, money and national interest is.



--
[T]he strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone. - Henrik Ibsen.
[ Parent ]
US is not stupid (4.28 / 7) (#36)
by flieghund on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 10:44:32 AM EST

All appearances to the contrary, the United States is not stupid. There is recent and well-documented case history of a foreign superpower's attempt to subjugate Afghanistan. The American military forces, however itchy for conflict they may be, are not willing to enter a game that the Russians (well, Soviets at the time) were so badly beaten at only a few years ago.

As an additional factor, consider the troubles in the Middle East. The US is holding on to very tenous support from Arab (mostly Islamic) countries in its pissing contest with Iraq. Invading a country that is ostensibly promoting Islamic faith (however twisted their version of it happens to be) is probably not likely to garner additional support. The US is also trying to appeal to Arab nations to help establish peace between Israel and the rest of the Middle East.* Again, making Islamic countries upset is not likely to help the situation.

On a slightly different topic, I think this brings up an interesting concept that was discussed on kuro5hin not too long ago: different types of discrimination (or in this case, persecution) are met with different responses. When people were being slaughtered in the Balkans because of ethnic differences, the world was up in arms and the US intervened. Now, in Afghanistan, it's essentially a battle between Islamic extremists and Islamic moderates and liberals. Since it is mostly a battle between two factions of the same "group," it is apparently not a big concern.

*I will admit that this is a matter of some debate. Cynics will argue that the US doesn't really want peace in the Middle East, because it would cut into military industry profits. However, I think Clinton really did want to establish a lasting peace accord, but for purely selfish reasons ("I did it when you couldn't, nyah nyah!").



Using a Macintosh is like picking your nose: everyone likes to do it, but no one will admit to it.
Good point (4.40 / 5) (#38)
by wiredog on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 10:58:11 AM EST

In the first paragraph. No one has beaten the Afghans on their own turf. Alexander the Great lost. The Hindu Kush mountains got their name (Hindu Killer) when the Indians tried it. The British fought, and lost, 3 afghan wars. The Soviets lost. Historically, the only time the afghans stop fighting each other is when someone else is stupid enough to stick his nose in their business. Said nose promptly being cut off. Then they go back to killing each other.

When you're wounded and left on Afghanistans' plains
and the women come out to cut up what remains
Just roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
And go to your God like a Soldier!
Rudyard Kipling.

The idea of a global village is wrong, it's more like a gazillion pub bars.
Phage
[ Parent ]

Alexander (4.00 / 2) (#48)
by Rand Race on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 02:21:38 PM EST

Go look up a little kingdom called Bactria. Alexander whiped the hell out of Bessus, the Persian Satrap of the area, and a branch of the Seluecid greeks ruled the area for 200 years (First as a satrapy of the Seluecid empire and then independantly). In fact the Persians, Greeks, Yueu-Chih, Shakas, Tocharians, Kushans, and Turks all had some success at subduing the area before the rise of Islam.

Don't get me wrong, the place is a meat grinder, but pre-modern armys did not have nearly the problems modern ones do.


"Question with boldness even the existence of God; because if there be one, He must approve the homage of Reason rather than that of blindfolded Fear." - Thomas Jefferson
[ Parent ]

The Afghans are coming! The Afghans are coming! (2.40 / 10) (#37)
by marlowe on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 10:46:26 AM EST

The barbarians are at the gates! What are we going to do? Oh wait. They're not at the gates. They're all off in Afghanistan smashing their own statues. Kind of a stupid thing to be doing, but hey, it's their country.

Now if they were smashing someone else's statues, that would be bad. But our good old American garden gnomes are safe and sound. So everybody relax.

Meanwhile, Eloquence is posting a disjointed rant about how much he hates Talibans. He's annoying, but at least there's no property damage involved.

-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
The world has many possible futures... (3.20 / 5) (#41)
by jd on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 11:20:06 AM EST

But only one past. If you mess it up, you don't get another.

The question we need to ask ourselves is "who's past is it, anyways? Who does it belong to?"

If the answer is "Afghanistan", then righteous indignation buys us nothing. If the answer is "The World", we must be as ready to accept the same judgement on our own willingness to destroy the past.

Personally, I'd say "The World". History should not belong to any individual, because it has impacted everyone, everywhere. You can't exactly divide a statue or an ancient ruin into billionths and ask each person what they'd like to do with their share.

(Mind you, the Taliban seem to be making an attempt at the first part...)

HOWEVER, to truly accept that, I would need to be willing to let history be, when it might not be in -my- (perceived) best interest. It would be hypocracy at it's worst to say one thing and do another, especially on this kind of scale.

IMHO, those who say "Afghanistan" =AND= who argue that the Taliban have the right to do whatever they like to their country and history are also perfectly right. (Within their perspective, as I am, only within mine.)

IMHO, it really boils down to this: In 100 years time, will this really matter? Will the Afghan people be dragging the Taliban down the streets, by their toenails, in revenge for these acts? Will Afghanistan's pre-Islam history be lost forever? Or will this be just another blip that every society's gone through, since civilisation began?

IMHO, the only people who could calculate the cost have yet to be born. Only they will know how much effect this'll really have. The rest of us are just whistling in the dark.

Military power... (4.00 / 9) (#42)
by ucblockhead on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 11:35:58 AM EST

The current world military situation is very lopsided. The United States wields the bulk of the military power in the world. That is a very abnormal position. Usually you have a bunch of nearly equal military powers vying for power, and when you do, you have the threat of war. The reason that we are not under the threat of any sort of global war is because there is one dominant power.

The problem with this is that if other countries start to fear the dominant power, they might start to rearm. An arms race. That's a bad thing as it leads to escalating military tensions and real war. Not nice contained campaigns like the Gulf War, but real widespread war.

The reason other countries don't fear the domninant power right now is that they have little reason to believe that the US will bring its military power to bear on them. Russia, for instance, feels pretty safe from American invasion, and therefore doesn't really worry about rearming. That's very good! But the more US troops start going into the sovereign territory of other countries to fix problems, the more other countries start wondering whether the US may look their way next. Then they start to rearm.

This is doubly true if there is no clearcut method to determine where to intervene. And it should be obvious that if one of the factors is how militarily dangerous it is, then oppressive regimes are going to start to rearm, to ensure that they are never the target.

So what is really needed is for the American leadership to stand up and make it very clear when US military power will be committed. Unfortunately, no US president will do that because that limits his power, and thus his ability to gain political points with a quick military campaign.

Anyway, in this particular instance, it would be absolutely insane to get involved. First, as others have mentioned, the Taliban was able to suck down a superpower once. And that was a power that bordered Afghanistan. Since no strong US ally is anywhere near there, it would be an incredibly difficult task, militarily speaking. We're not talking three months of Wolf Blitzer on CNN here. We're talking decades of guerilla warfare.

But geopolitically speaking, it is even worse. How do you thing Russia would react to a large military presence in the area? What about China, only a stone's throw away? At the very least, you're likely to drive them into a military buildup. (Especially China, which the US often criticizes for rights violations.) Add to that Pakistan and India right there, staring each other down with nukes. And then add to that the none propensity of the people of the area to use terrorism. And, oh yeah, do you think Iran will react well to a major US military presense to its east, given the one already bombing the shit out of the country to its west?

The chance of a military intervevention actually succeeding is virtually nil and the chance of it causing massive political and military upheavals is huge.


-----------------------
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup

Russia feels pretty safe? (4.00 / 4) (#43)
by marlowe on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 11:56:37 AM EST

Then why are they redeploying nukes on the Baltic?

And what's with the special forces training for schoolchildren?

Russia may have nothing to fear, but that doesn't stop them from fearing.
-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
[ Parent ]

Exactly (none / 0) (#71)
by hawkins on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 10:36:15 PM EST

Not to mention that rather impressive missile test they performed the day after Iraq was bombed.
Move .sig for great justice!
[ Parent ]
nevermind. (none / 0) (#73)
by hawkins on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 10:44:04 PM EST

forgot to check my facts. That was a while ago, while Bush was still having wet dreams over resurrecting the SDI.
Move .sig for great justice!
[ Parent ]
They are Beasts, and We Should Do Nothing (4.00 / 7) (#54)
by Robert Uhl on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 03:03:08 PM EST

First of all, the Taliban are ridiculous. They're morons, and stupid, and foolish, and much more besides. Thye are destroying their nation. They are committing all sorts of human rights abuses. Their treatment of women, men, children, non-Mohammedans and others is obscene.

And we should do nothing at all about it.

Why? How can we stand aside when deeds of such infamy are going on? Simple: the doctrine of sovereignty. There was a time in Europe when we did not have this doctrine. The result was roughly two centuries of vicious religious warfare, each side convinced that it and it alone was right, and that the other was evil to the core, and must therefore be exterminated. Thousands upon thousands died. The nations of Europe were devastated. The entire shape of the modern world was determined in that cataclysm.

Finally cooler heads prevailed. The doctrine of religio regis, religo legis--the religion of the ruler is the religion of the law--prevailed. The sovereignty of each ruler in his land was respected and determined to be absolute. The busybody mentality which attempts to convert every nation according to its own druthers was stymied by this new doctrine which stated that nations would only interfere with force when they themselves were interefered with. This doctrine is much like that of freedom of conscience: I can believe whatever I want, even going so far as to cut off my own hands and feet, and no-one has any right to interfere. Likewise, a nation may do something as obviously incorrect as forcing its inhabitants to obey Islamic law, and no other nation interferes. It's when I attempt to cut your hands off, or the Taliban attempt to force Russia to live under Islamic law, that there are problems.

This is why China has not been destroyed for its human rights abuses (that, and the fact that it's a tough nut to crack). That's why the Soviet Union was never destroyed for its human rights abuses (that and a bunch of leftist journalists influencing Western public opinion). That's why we do not invade England to force her Parliament to reinstate the right to keep and bear arms. That's why Canada does not invade the United States to force socialised medicine upon us.

No matter how much we decry the actions of the Taliban, we cannot interfere without ourselves being guilty of a much larger crime. What we can do is cut off trade, cut off support and let them dangle at the end of the gibbet they have constructed for themselves. Just as I am within my rights to avoid the society of and refuse to deal with an individual who cuts his hands off, so are we as a state within our rights to reject Afghanistan under the Taliban. We are even within our rights to give support to a government-in-exile. What we are not and can never be justified in doing is directly interfering.

May the Taliban's hold on Afghanistan wither and fade. In time it must--even if it means the destruction of the Afghans. The measures which they have taken must in time lead to the downfall of their people and hence of their own power. Once weakened, they will fall apart. Once they have fallen apart, there will be no legitimate government, there will be no sovereign and we--or any other state--will be free to march in and claim posession.

This is all true... (4.33 / 3) (#59)
by jd on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 04:11:05 PM EST

IF you make one small, but vital, assumption... That the physical and intellectual isolation that existed in Europe at that time also exists today.

If, on the other hand, you believe that isolation has become a myth, then the acts of the Taliban affect every single person alive today, in one way or another, indirectly as well as directly.

In that case, protecting individual sovereignty DEMANDS that the actions within each sovereign state is limited. Otherwise, you would have anarchy.

Now, I'm not saying that it's one way or the other, just that you can't have it both ways. Either actions in one place have repercussions elsewhere, or they don't. You have to choose. And you can't choose both.

If you say that they can't have an effect, then you're also saying that America has no business being involved with NATO or the UN, or even GATT, as their mere existance is based on the opposite assumption.

Such a belief may well be correct, but let's make no bones about what the implications of that belief are. Without intervention, Europe might well be embroiled in a war with a "Greater Serbia", much as it was, 50 years ago, with a "Greater Germany", for essentially the same reason - a single disputed border.

If we don't want the consequences, we have to learn to not do the actions that bring them on. Here, the action was to supply the Afghan fighters with weaponry, during the Russian occupation, but to NOT supply them with any kind of ethics.

If we want to point fingers, just remember that three point back at us. WE are to blame for the paranoia and hatred of the Afghan's. Yes, THEY are responsible for what they do with those feelings, but our "Cold War" attitudes created those monstors. Not them.

[ Parent ]

OT: Mohammedans (5.00 / 2) (#60)
by kataklyst on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 04:14:51 PM EST

You may not be aware of this, but Muslims find the term Mohammedans offensive. This is because Islamic doctrine forbids the worship of any person or object, including Muhammad. Muslims dislike the implication that they worship Muhammad in the same way that Christians worship Christ.

[ Parent ]
Like Marx once said... (3.25 / 4) (#64)
by typo on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 06:48:20 PM EST

History occurs 3 times. First as a drama, then as a farse and finaly as a comedy. Well the british "empire" robbed mummies and statues to bring back to the world renoun British Museum. They didn't actualy destroy the art but as far as the common egyptian is concerned it's mostly the same (since he'll never see them again).

As far as taliban's stupid rules go, well it's really a mater of Einsteins relativity (sort of). To todays Europeans and Americans the Taliban look ridiculous. But to future Americans and Europeans our culture today will be laughable.

People fail to realize how rude and uncivilized we still are. The taliban aren't that far behind. We're still a society that belives in gods (that WILL end eventualy), that has profound rich vs. poor problems and that is generaly irracional.

This is not to mean that the Taliban aren't a bit behind, but what we should be argueing is how to get out of the Middle Ages for good. Medieval knights and the black plague aren't that many centuries behind.

Technology makes us think we're that far ahead, but compared to inventing iron tools to help treat the land to grow food, computers are a small inovation. Sure they allow us to do a billion cool things. But feeding us is most definatly a more important thing.

I'll go sit in my corner now.

The limits of power (4.75 / 4) (#65)
by Jim Wayne on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 07:08:52 PM EST

It is not only that the US should do nothing as long as what happens inside Afghanistan happens only inside Afghanistan, it is also that there is very little that it can do.

The United States is a naval power and an air force power. It has a huge, modern and efficient (supposedly) army, but given the US's geographic location, that army is dependent on air and sea resources before it can be used. Therefore, the projection of US power depends on sea and air resources. Sea resources become less and less effective the farther inland you go, and air resources become less and less effective the farther away from its bases you operate. Afghanistan is far inland, and far from available American air bases. The countries that surround it are sensitive to any infringement on their sovereignity, and are not likely to permit US bases on their soil or overflights by US air assets. The protests of surrounding nations when the US hit Afghan targets believed to be associated with Osama ben Laden are illustrative.

So the US is not well placed to do anything about Afghanistan, just as it was not well placed to do anything about the Rwandan massacres in Africa. Look at the difficulty the US had using its air and naval assets in Kosovo, which is only a short distance from the Adriatic and from NATO air bases (compared to Afghanistan).

Advocating that the US do something about Afghanistan is futile. The US can do little. Nor are the nations surrounding Afghanistan likely to do much, either because they do not have the military power, or the will, or the interest.

On the other hand, the whole world may very well be able to "enjoy the benefits of time," as Queen Elizabeth I used to call her policy. Afghanistan is becoming so extreme that its beginning to innoculate even her Muslim neighbors against her brand of Islamic fundamentalism. The rigid, Puritanical Stalinism of Albania did much to destroy the effectiveness of the communist message in Europe even after liberalization occurred in the Soviet Union. Every time a communist politician tried to point out the more human and humane face their party was trying to present, someone could (and an opposition party often did) point out that Stalinist repression still went on. It is very likely that the same kind of political dialog will occur among Muslim leaders.

One is sorry for the Afghans, and especially for the Afghans of the future, whose patrimony this gang of zealots is destroying. But there is little that can be done about it. And perhaps the most useful thing that can be done to end it and destroy its effectiveness is being done by the Taliban leadership itself.

Jim


Jim

There was no golden age. There will be no golden age. All ages are alloys. But some alloys are better, stronger, and more useful than others.

Your missionary zeal gives me pause. (3.66 / 3) (#67)
by hjones on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 07:58:26 PM EST

I can see you feel strongly about how others should live their lives and about what values they should embrace, but so do those whose lives and values you so strongly detest. I imagine from their point of view you would be as intolerant and arrogant as they appear to you. I hope you're in earnest that military intervention is an option. This is precisely the sort of attitude that many religions are criticised for. Something to think about.
"Nietzsche is dead, but given the way of men, there may still be caves for thousands of years in which his shadow will be shown. And we -- we small-minded weaklings, we still have to vanquish his shadow too." - The Antinietzsche
We're in real trouble (3.00 / 1) (#76)
by DoubleEdd on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 07:04:21 AM EST

We're in real trouble if we decide we should now send in the military because some statues are at risk. As the article says, there's far worse going on that means we should be doing everything we can to help the country. Its revolting that we are suddenly getting all worked up about artwork when people are living under such conditions.

That said, it is unfortunate that we don't have the technical/military ability to force them to convert to democratic rule without serious difficulty and loss of life. As such we can't really consider any military action.

Insanity, and plaster (5.00 / 5) (#78)
by bafungu on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 09:28:00 AM EST

I have a plea for sanity, and possible solution at the end.

First: these Buddha carvings are ONE THOUSAND SIX HUNDRED years old: Roughly sixty human generations. They predate Mohammed and Islam itself. I do not want to be part of the generation that let them get destroyed.

Second: Drop the "it's Afghanistan's business" nonsense. The Taleban are a mere split second in the history of the land itself. These statues were already ancient when Ghenghis Khan was roaming the steppes!

Thirdly: There is no "offensive idolatry" anyway: Nobody has "worshipped" those statues for well over a thousand years. They've been nothing but tourism curios for centuries.

But finally: I propose a solution: UNESCO members could volunteer to pay for encasing the apparently offensive Buddhas in plaster. Yup, just hide them completely.

I make no bones about my real plan behind that solution: I predict that in 50 years, max, sanity will reemerge and the 2050AD Islam leaders will conclude that maybe their followers can actually deal with seeing ancient random dusty statues without plunging into idolatry and sin, the plaster will be removed, and thousands of archeologists will silently bless the 2001AD folks who chose to encase the stuff for posterity.

Either that or the world will be busy demolishing the Sphinx at Ghiza and every painting in the Louvre.

Thoreau/Transcadentalist/Non-intervention (none / 0) (#80)
by MrNed on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 09:02:36 PM EST

There was this American guy a century or so back named Henry David Thoreau (known for his connection to Emerson and his work Walden Pond and the subject of this post, Resistance to Civil Government). Thoreau was a major influence on lots of other guys, including Ghandi and MLK Jr. He writes:

"It is not a man's duty, as a matter of course, to devote himself to the eradication of any, even the most enormous wrong; he may still properly have other concerns to engage him; but it is his duty, at least, to wash his hands of it, and, if he gives it no thought longer, not to give it practically his support."

Although the passage seems innocent enough, it really is what must be done. It hurts me, as a student of history, to see those statues probably go the way of Alexandria, the Collossus of Rhodes, most of the pre-Columbian American culture, and a bunch of important tombs and temples in Egypt, but the US really must wash its hands of the matter and let it run it's course. What the Taliban is doing is not right in my mind, but that doesn't matter - it's THEIR territory and the US or any other country has no more right to tell them what to do than I have the right to force you, a soverign entity, to cut your foot off.

The last time in history countries got all self-righteous over this kind of stuff was during the religious wars of Europe back in the day. Before that, the Crusades. Where did that get Western civilization? Well, population density decreased, but that's about it.

The Soviets had little success in Afghanastan. The French had little success in Vietnam. Let's learn from our mistakes. I'm not arrogant enough to think that somehow the US's weaponry and tactics are that much superior to the Soviet Union's were so that we could protect two statues.


Air lift 'em, I say. And give the Taliban the head of Egypt's number so they can discuss how much it sucks to loose national treasures.

Afghanistan's Barbarians Destroy Culture | 85 comments (69 topical, 16 editorial, 0 hidden)
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