Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Suddenly, You Care..

I feel selfishly angry today..

In 1997, my band organized and played benefits for RAWA (The Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan). I was very proud of my involvement in such a cause, no matter how small the role we played. So many brave women in Afghanistan risked, and often gave their lives to defy the brutal foulness of Theocracy. They are to be admired as heroes and their cause is to be supported, defended and championed.

Back then, when I would describe the reality of Taliban rule, my protests fell on deaf ears. People around here called me some kind of "liberal activist" for caring about the bleak and sterile horrors of theocracy visited upon the women of Afghanistan. Acid thrown in unveiled faces, rape, murder, infanticide.. none of these things seemed to matter to the Americans I knew in 1997. I was reminded, time and time again, about how "it isn't America's job to police the world."

From a purely egotistic standpoint, I bristle today at the nuanced criticisms of both the Obama and Bush administrations regarding their response to the horrors of the Taliban's actions in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. I guess those people offering criticism only care when our military serves in a region. I heard nothing but appalling silence from my countrymen on this cruel cadre of brutal Theocratic Fascists before 9/11. They didn't give a red hot damn when schools were shot up or children were raped back then. Now, suddenly, they're on a personal crusade..

That being said, I guess, for better or worse, we're awake now. Maybe it's just sour grapes. I just needed to acknowledge my own egoic, angry feelings on the matter.

I've always believed the glacial malice of the Taliban and the barbaric form of Fundamentalist Islam they prescribe, endorse and visit upon those who they deem the unrighteous must be confronted. The Taliban and their ilk represent the most evil force existing on the planet. They take their edicts from the barbaric infancy of our species. This is a group that not only violates human rights, but refuses to recognize their existence. Their list of war crimes and atrocities could fill the Library at Alexandria. During the height of its power in Afghanistan, the Taliban ran the country as a vast concentration camp, absolutely enslaving the female population, annihilating all music and culture, and conducting a campaign of extermination against the Hazara and other minorities. Many, many children were murdered.

Defending such a regime would be to endorse the wholesale rape, murder and extermination of the people of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and, eventually, everyone else. But pretending that it only happened after 9/11 is almost as horrific..

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Merci Beaucoup, Mr. Baldwin..

"History, as nearly no one seems to know, is not merely something to be read. And it does not refer merely, or even principally, to the past. On the contrary, the great force of history comes from the fact that we carry it within us, are unconsciously controlled by it in many ways, and history is literally present in all we do. It could scarcely be otherwise, since it is to history that we owe our frames of reference, our identities, our aspirations. And it is with great pain and terror that one begins to realize this. In great pain and terror one begins to assess the history which has placed one where one is and formed one’s point of view. In great pain and terror because, therefore, one enters into battle with that historical creation, Oneself, and attempts to recreate oneself according to a principle more humane and more liberating; one begins the attempt to achieve a level of personal maturity and freedom which robs history of its tyrannical power, and also changes history.

But obviously, I am speaking as an historical creation which has had bitterly to contest its history, to wrestle with it, and finally accept it, in order to bring myself out of it. My point of view certainly is formed by my history, and it is probable that only a creature despised by history finds history a questionable matter. On the other hand, people who imagine that history flatters them (as it does indeed, since they wrote it) are impaled on their history like a butterfly on a pin and become incapable of seeing or changing themselves, or the world.

This is the place in which, it seems to me, most white Americans find themselves. Impaled. They are dimly, or vividly, aware that the history they have fed themselves is mainly a lie, but they do not know how to release themselves from it, and they suffer enormously from the resulting personal incoherence. This incoherence is heard nowhere more plainly than in those stammering, terrified dialogues white Americans sometimes entertain with that black conscience, the black man in America.

The nature of this stammering can be reduced to a plea: Do not blame me. I was not there. I did not do it." - James Baldwin