The Boston Diaries

The ongoing saga of a programmer who doesn't live in Boston, nor does he even like Boston, but yet named his weblog/journal “The Boston Diaries.”

Go figure.

Saturday, October 13, 2001

Afghanistan—it's a dangerous place

Gone were the network war hogs who hiked in from Peshawar and wrote stirring tales of muj bravery. Now sleek white UN turboprops off-loaded female journalists in waiting chauffeur-driven black Mercedes. Over lunch and dinner at the UN mansion (with exercise room, satellite television and bar) they chronicled the horrors of the lack of health care, the treatment of women and generally how life sucked and apparently just for women. There was even a standard journo junket. The first stop was to see Mullah Qalaamuddin, the deputy head of the Religious Police (the Department for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice), where every writer was assured to get a few giggles from the latest fatwah: no paper bags, no white socks, four fingers of beard and no picture-taking. Then off to a barber for a little humor, a clandestine visit to a girl's school, pack a lunch for the Friday executions and then back to Peshawar to file. The object of their journalist lust? The dreaded burqa, a garment worn by every women outside of cosmopolitan Kabul for centuries but suddenly held up as being a sign of the devil in Kabul. Not many paid attention when Hekmatyar made it mandatory long before the Talibs showed up. The writers never really mentioned that they were in the most destroyed city on earth, a militarily occupied zone with a war raging 15 kilometers to the north, rockets raining into the city and young men are pressganged. Somehow in their zeal to create women's rights in a country staggering to its knees, they forget to mention the complete lack of jobs, housing, medical care, health services and education for men (who must provide for their women and children) let alone women. The articles inflamed the world and shut down any aid to the wartorn region. How did the Taliban get lynched on women's rights? It's akin to taking the KKK to task for not providing minority scholarships.

Afghanistan-DangerFinder

This is a fun site. The commentary is colorful yet very informative, using humor to get the point across—this (and every other country profiled on the site) is a very dangerous place to be, and why the place is dangerous.

They even give background information on the Players in the area, like this on the Osama bin Laden:

So let's just say Binny is the bearded Ross Perot of the Middle East. Technically Binny Bang Bang (he keeps going an going and going and going …) can now join Castro and Qaddafi for drinks at the Bad Boy's Club, unless the United States keeps turning off his cash flow. A man with 40 brothers, 13 sisters and wealthy patrons can probably play hide the pickle longer than the State Department can. For now bin Laden is a right-wing billionaire (or millionaire or even destitute, depending who you talk to) who combines industrial activity with political activism.

Afghanistan-Osama bin Laden

Or even this on the Taliban:

The black-turbaned Taliban are a PR agent's worst nightmare. A visual mix of Darth Vader gansta rappers and rejects from a Bible play, they come to press conferences with Noriega-style Ray Bans, scruffy beards, long black robes, armed bodyguards and an attitude that makes Louis Farrakhan seem like Mr. Rogers. The Taliban are not bad guys, they're just a little rough around the edges and they don't get out much. Maybe a guest shot on Oprah with a sensitivity coach would help them "address their issues." Their leaders are primarily 40-something muj selected from the Durrani tribes from the backwater southern provinces of Helmand and Uruzgan. They are a simple, pure people led by very religious but culturally isolated mullahs who want outsiders out of Afghanistan and to establish a pure Islamic state. They are simply mad as hell at foreign intervention and ain't gonna take it any more. The funny thing is their northern enemy says they are just the latest Pakistani-backed stooges in this too-long-running war movie/soap opera.

Afghanistan-The Taliban

You should probably just go read the site before I quote it in its entirety here.


How to even describe this thought

I just had a weird thought.

Native Americans, those that where here before the European invasion of 1492 and covering those of both North and South America, are genetically incapable of growing facial hair.

The Taliban made it a crime to have a beard less than four finger widths in length, and if it isn't long enough, you spend time in jail until you have one long enough.

So, does that mean that a Native American, assuming one would want to, can't belong to the Taliban? He probably can't become an Orthodox Jew or even become an Amish Mennonite.

“Although,” said Spring when I told her this, “the Amish might be more forgiving and let one become a member.”

“But in the Amish community, when a man becomes married, he has to let his beard grow,” I said.

“Okay, then maybe a Native American who becomes Amish can't get married,” she said.

Like I said, it was a wierd thought.

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