A stream of conciousness rant from the Mahdi...
I'm not a peacenik.
I'm also not as pacifistic as most of my friends. I believe in fighting for what one believes in, and I don't automatically condemn violence. While I believe violent conflict should be a last resort, I do believe there are some enemies -- be they individuals, countries, or ideas -- which in the end can only be fought with violence.
Watching the situation in Afghanistan develop, I've been at turns saddened, gladdened, and confused.
People say we cannot condemn another's beliefs. Bullshit. We can categorically do so, and I don't find anything wrong with that. Hell, my friends and I do it all the time. I look at hardline fundamentalists, of any religion, and I find their beliefs abhorrent. And while I agree they have the right to believe as they do, that does not cover acting on those beliefs.
Look at it this way -- Fred Phelps and his tribe of inbred misfits believe that God hates gay people, that it is, while illegal, morally alright to kill gays. That is wrong. It should not be allowed to happen, and isn't. Hardline Islamic Fundies believe that America is evil, that we should be destroyed. Fine. But the moment they ACT on those beliefs, that is wrong.
Sure, this applies equally to our own values. But some things are universal. Does anyone reading this deny that all humans deserve equal treatment, that some things are just wrong?
The Taliban (and other fundamentalist Islamic movements) say women are second-class citizens. They cannot be educated, they must obey men at all times, etc. etc. In some places in Africa and the Middle East, women are circumcised -- a painful procedure with no medical value whatsoever. I believe these things are wrong, and more, I believe the rest of us have a moral obligation to stop this kind of cruelty and mistreatment of another human being.
People say "That's their beliefs, we don't have the right to stop them." In my honest opinion, these people are either morons or not thinking clearly. This is the problem with moral relativism and complete openness to opinions. "It's my opinion and you can't refute it" is one of the most absurd concepts in education today. Some opinions are wrong, plain and simple. Yet some would allow anything to happen, so long as it is under another belief system. By that kind of logic, we should have allowed the systematic murder of millions of people by the Nazi regime to go unpunished, women should never have campaigned for suffrage, and most of the planet should still be under British Rule.
Sure, there are peaceful solutions to many of these problems, and I believe they ought to be pursued. But sometimes, there are no other options but to fight, and in such cases, one should fight to the best of his ability and not relent.
A lot of people died in the World Trade Center attacks. And a lot of people have died in the war in Afghanistan. But in the end, perhaps some good has been done. The Taliban is fleeing, the country looks like it shall be handed back to it's people. To quote an article I read today:
In a rickety old blue bus, one women quickly flipped her burqa up over her head. Male residents who were gathering around a group of Northern Alliance soldiers laughed. One young soldier gestured to other women to take off their burqas, the traditional heavy veil mandated by the Taliban.
Most of the women simply watched the soldiers. Some of the women closed the curtains that are on all buses that carry women in Afghanistan. Others simply looked away.
The one who slipped her burqa off quickly put it back on.
Nearby, six women, all in burqas, were going to a wedding. “For now we will leave the burqa on. We don’t know yet who are these people in the city,” said Mariam Jan.
Elsewhere, clean-shaven men rubbed their faces. An old man with a newly trimmed gray beard danced in the street holding a small tape recorder blaring music to his ear.
The Taliban had banned music and ordered men to wear beards.
Do you see what I see? Though there is confusion, and there will doubtless be difficulties ahead, in the end, some good has been accomplished, and if we're careful, will remain.
I was opposed to beginning this war, but now that it has begun, I only hope that, when over, we do not abandon Afghanistan to an uncertain future without helping them face it with pride and with strength.
And yes, I'm aware of the trickiness of these things, that in essence I'm doing the same thing I would accuse the evildoers of doing. And there are degrees, of course. I don't think Communism is ok, but that doesn't mean I'd advocate war to stop it. I don't think Christianity makes any sense at all, but I'm not going to bomb churches. But I do demand that we, as a race, care for our peoples, no matter where they are.
Because if we don't, no one else will.