The Taliban Tempest
By R. D. Flavin

An Afghan woman mutilated by the Taliban; photo from
 Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan.

"Beat him enough: after a little time
I'll beat him too."
Caliban in Shakespeare's The Tempest, Act 3, Scene 2.

     The madness in Afghanistan continued last week.  Before a
crowd of 8000 a murderer had his throat slit by the victim's
father, and two men who were found guilty of stealing the
equivalent of $1400 (US) had their right hands cut off and held
aloft for the crowd to see.  A vendor of keffieh scarves
(traditional garb of Palestinian militants, Islamic
Fundamentalists, and without-a-clue Western youth), outside of
the Kapbul stadium where the killing and mutilations occurred, is
reported to have sold out his entire stock.  The Afghani tempest
of Islamic justice administered by the inspired geeks-with-guns,
the Taliban, seems to be getting worse.  I wonder if Rupert
Murdoch is negotiating television rights for future acts of
sadism committed by the Taliban...

     The Taliban (from talabah, Arabic for "students of religion")
initially formed to drive the Soviets from Afghanistan.  Toward
that goal, in much the same way as American foreign policy has
sometimes been generous to "lesser" enemies to challenge those
"greater" ones, the Taliban were originally portrayed as
"Freedom Fighters" and received weapons and assistance from
the West, including America, to counter perceived Soviet
aggression.  The impending dissolution of the Soviet Union (and
the threat of mass-mutiny on the part of the military)
compelled Gorbachov to retreat from the goals of his
predecessors in extending Soviet control closer to the Indian
Ocean.  The Taliban gave credit for their "victory" over the
Soviets to Allah.  Some believe the Taliban couldn't have
succeeded without the assistance of John Rambo, but much of
that argument is classified (except for 1988's Rambo III;
though according to the newsgroup rec.guns and their FAQ:
movie gun mishaps, Rambo's success in Afghanistan is
questionable as he is said to have impossibly attached an
American M203 4mm grenade launcher to a Soviet AK-74).

     As the Soviets retreated from Afghanistan, an interim
government formed which the Taliban believed to be corrupt and
non-representational of the Afghan people.  Of this transitional
period, the "religious" geeks-with-guns claim, "People had sent
their handsome, teenage sons to Pakistan as it had become
extremely dangerous for them to venture out in the streets.
Homosexuality, adultery had become so common that it is said a
boy married another boy in Kandahar."  Nothing is said of the
sexual exploits of the blemished and/or overweight lads and, it
must be assumed, the Taliban only care for cute boys.  The once
"Freedom Fighters" began a war with the local and native
Afghani to further the extremist vision of Islamic justice and
morality.  Today, after significant victories in 1994 and the
taking of Kabul in 1996, they control 90% of Afghanistan.  It's
been bad and looks like it's getting worse.

     One of the first injustices to reach the notice of the outside
world was the Taliban's treatment of women.  Under the gender
pogrom of the Islamic Fundamentalists, Afghan women may not
hold jobs, leave their homes without being accompanied by a
close male relative, attend school, be treated by a male doctor,
wear nail-polish, or be seen from the street through any
windows of her home.  The head-to-toe covering that is worn by
all Afghan women on pain of flogging, mutilation, or death by
stoning, is sometimes explained with: "The face of a woman is a
source of corruption for men who are not related to them."  Of
course, it must be remembered, this comes from a culture where
all females receive a clitoridectomy to destroy any sexual
sensation, as no Islamic Fundamentalist would want it said that
his mother had sex for pleasure, but only for procreation.  This
is beyond misogyny -- this is evil.  [Note:  Though female genital
mutilation is mainly practiced in Islamic countries, some
non-Islamic African tribes do so as well, and also certain

     Today we prepare to meet the illusory millennium (time is an
artificial construct and different people use different
calendars), and we face the making of mature decisions about
nuclear weapons, germ-warfare, the death penalty, abortion, the
use of fetal tissue in science, cloning, and other issues which will
have a tremendous impact on the next century.  I may not agree
America is the "Great Satan," though we are a silly folk, with
examples of chemical castration to punish sex-offenders and our
current fascination with Monica.  It would be unfair to only
point fingers at the Taliban Fundamentalists, and not include the
stubborn in Northern Ireland and Israel who continue to resist
peace, and America's own Fundamentalists, who wish to further
restrict abortions, continue to classify homosexuality as a
crime, while they shed tears with their hands out, asking for
money to build their next orbiting Christian satellite.

     It is said that 14 of the 20 members of the ruling council of
the Taliban have missing limbs from doing battle with the
Soviets.  They're very proud of their wounds and often cite
these injuries when they attempt to convince other Islamic
countries that they're dedicated to Islam and 'service' to Allah.
This obvious amputation fetish appears to extol virtue and
justice, but I suspect a reaction formation resulting from the
efforts to abide by anachronistic Islam in modern times.  These
geeks-with-guns have issues...  Deadly issues...

     The amputation of the right hands of the two thieves, last
week in Kabul, was a little different than previous public acts of
depravity.  Over the past few years the Taliban have usually
amputated the right hand and the left foot of a convicted thief.
Maybe I'm over-reacting...  Maybe things are actually getting
better in Afghanistan...  Nope!  What was I thinking?  The
tempest continues and there's going to be much more suffering.
Maybe we should convince Rambo to go back...

Praying for my hands and feet,

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