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Unfiled December 13, 2001
AfghanWorld: Let Afghanistan Be Afghanistan
By John Dolan Browse author Email
Page 4 of 4
It is typical of provincial snobs to think that any order they cannot recognize is "disorder." There is an order in Afghan culture; it is simply different from ours. But this order violates some of the rules which, for the West, are cross-culture moral absolutes: gender roles and drug use.

Mister Rail, eager to show he's mastered that good ol' Gonzo style of reporting, says that in post-Taliban Taloqan, "pure opium paste is selling briskly a few blocks off the main drag."

Well, he needn't worry. The happy dreamers lying on the streets willl be eliminated soon enough. In the wake of the American armies, the DEA will slither in and pay off a local to take over the opium trade, cut the DEA in for a percentage according to the usual manner, and clear the streets of those too poor to do their nodding in private. Afghans will be colonised by specialists in every aspect of Western life, until they will become so much like us that we will want them to be "colorful" and "different" again, in those safe ways we encourage: crude handiworks, spicy foods, clunky jewelry.

But what if someone had the courage to do what the makers of the first National Parks did? What if just a few of us had the courage to say that this strange wild place has the right to remain strange and wild, to be antithetical to the Allie-McBeal world, just as Yellowstone is antithetical to Manhattan? For God's sake, doesn't anyone out there see that cultural relativism is not just a matter of appreciating ethnic cuisines? If the Afghans want to live in Alexander the Great's world rather than Allie McBeal's, why can't they? They are hardly going to colonize LA, any more than Yellowstone is going to colonize Manhattan. What would it hurt us to let one tiny corner of the world remain as the whole world once was, in Alexander's wild ways?

Separated at Barber?

George Harrison
Recently-deceased Hindi-convert George Harrison...
John Walker Lindh
...and never-to-be-released Taliban-convert John Walker Lindh?

As we found with the National Parks, it must be done quickly. When Yellowstone was founded, most people laughed, and the local cattle and timber barons were furious. But in a generation, everyone was grateful that just a bit of the old wilderness was left. Afghanistan is the last piece of human wilderness on the planet. No one, least of all the leftists, can appreciate that now. They value only plowed land and plowed cultures; they are as eager for the destruction of this last warrior culture as the advocates of "Progress" in the nineteenth-century US were eager to see every acre from the Atlantic to the Pacific under the plow. In a generation we'll weep at what we've done to Afghanistan; but why weep later? Why not do something to help this last piece of wilderness survive?

It's not just for the Afghans' sake, any more than Yellowstone is only for the few residents of NW Wyoming. It could be a place for all of us to go when we get sick of Allie McBeal's world. What if we declared Afghanistan a No-Go Area for Moral Imperialism? Isn't anybody out there willing to speak up for the Enlightenment tolerance you studied in school?

Apparently not. Ah well. You know, I think I hate the Leftists even more, at the moment. Because Hell, you don't expect Bush and Rumsfeld to care about any of this, but you might expect the goddamn "Progressives" to whimper just a little about the way the US has trampled every warrior culture it encounters, from Somalia to Belgrade to Taloqan. You'd think they took the notion of respecting other cultures just a little seriously, once in a while.

But no; they're the intellectual descendants of the British lower-middle class, and they are the most avid exterminators of alien cultures of all. The notion that the Homeric ideals might survive disgusts them, while the Rumsfelds merely find it inconvenient.

So there is no place where Achilles can hide, no place where those sick of Allie McBeal's officeworld can hope to find an alternative. (If you think that communal squats in Vancouver or London are an "alternative," you're even stupider than I thought.)

I don't necessarily want to live in the Everglades, but it's nice to know there's a place with more alligators than orthodontists. I don't necessarily want to live in Mazar, either (though I'm not so sure about that) -- but I need there to be such a place. Let Afghanistan be Afghanistan. There's plenty of Iowa; let there be a little of Yellowstone still in the world. Bush and Dworkin don't have to visit it if they don't like it, but the rest of us need to know it's there.

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