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Unfiled December 13, 2001
AfghanWorld: Let Afghanistan Be Afghanistan
By John Dolan Browse author Email

Make Afghanistan the First World Moral-Wilderness Park

Taliban people in Disnayland (collage)

Long ago, a forgotten American president named Gerald Ford stepped up to a podium and cried out: "Let Poland be Poland!"

It didn't go over too well, partly because Ford looked like Alfred E. Neuman after a career as a failed boxer and partly because this ringing slogan was just another Cold-War psywar campaign to detach the Poles from the Warsaw Pact.

(By the way, ever notice how in the Reagan era, every anti-Soviet Polish director or painter or writer was a certified genius? And ever notice how you haven't heard much about those guys lately? That's because the Polish "geniuses" like Wajda and Milosz were unbearably boring and tendentious. They were the literary analogues of Jonas Savimbi: savage proxies to be used and dumped.)

Besides, there was something about the notion of letting Poland be Poland which Ford's wealthy sponsors didn't quite like. It reeked of the big, bad bogeyman called "Cultural Relativism." How can we "let Poland be Poland" when we have already decided that the whole world has to be us? The only slogan a Republican president should've been shouting was "Let Poland be Saratoga!" Or "Let Poland be Anaheim!" And that is, in fact, what the West meant: Poland, and for that matter Russia too, was good to the degree that it came to resemble Anaheim, and bad to the degree it did not.

What if someone was to suggest that not only Poland, but far scarier, more divergent places had a right to be themselves? Like, oh, just for kicks let's say "Afghanistan." Try to imagine W. Bush declaiming, "Let Afghanistan be Afghanistan!"

Disneyland style rides in the Afghan Moral Wilderness theme park. Like....

Taliban people in Disnayland (collage)

Pirates of the Mazar-e-Sharif:
Loot the corpses! Race your friends to see who can strip the virtual corpses of their weapons (3 points), shoes (5 points) and gold teeth (25 points)!

Surrender, Dorothy! Face down our audioanimatronic Taliban warriors and decide when it's safe to surrender! Guess right and you get a hairy hug'n'kiss; guess wrong and our fullbody sensors give you virtual death from a volley of 7.62 slugs!

Tora Bora Matterhorn-a:
take on the giant underground mountain waterslide while dodging "smart" and "not-so-smart" bombs! see if you can make it all the way down to Pakistan Valley, or wind up "vulture food" on a narrow mountain ledge!

Kandahar Alley:
Stroll down a virtual street in Kandahar without violating any of the 7,694 unwritten rules, as you are stalked by the whipwingin' religious police. Fullbody sensors simulate the "kiss" of a horsewhip on a woolen burqa!

Minefield a la Carte:
See if you can tiptoe your way across mines laid by the Taliban, the Soviet Army, the British, and Alexander the Great, in order to reach the delicious "Meal-Ready-to-Eat" (MRE) which has been dropped in the very center of the minefield, along with several unexploded cluster bombs, by a B-1 "Mercy Cutter"! Win, and you eat like a Mullah; lose, and you'll be collecting your own guts like a hungry jackal!

Not in a million fiscal years. And the strange thing is that, on that issue, the Left would be just as ready as the Republicans to crush every vestige of Difference in Afghan culture.

You'd think that maybe the Left would try to point out to the Republicans that other countries have a right to be themselves. But not at all, especially not about a bad old violent place like Afghanistan. They fight there. They like fighting. They kill each other. They have different rules about girls and women. The Left would appear to have decided that, while people from other cultures have the right to take different holidays, open ethnic restaurants, and pray to the Crocodile God in the back of Social Studies class, they certainly don't have the right to live, die or marry in ways which would upset Andrea Dworkin.

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