When civilization goes wheels up

There seems to be no shortage of opinions regarding the US pullout from Afghanistan. The usual pundits are coming out with the usual screeds, the victims and heroes determined by which ideological camp the pundit in question has planted his or her flag. The syllogisms of blame are everywhere you care to look, yet the most important message seems to have escaped notice.

As soon as the Taliban started to consolidate their power and advance towards Kabul, the horror stories of beheadings, floggings, the kidnapping of women and placing them into varieties of sexual slavery, and, most distressing to the American public, the systematic revenge being taking on those Afghans who worked with the American forces. Images of Vietnamese people clinging to the last US helicopters leaving Vietnam were replayed in Kabul’s airport and desperate Afghans tried to cling to US military transport planes while they were taxiing and taking off. A few hundred people were taken inside the planes and transported to Qatar, where talks between US and Taliban diplomats are on-going when this article was penned. Soon enough, the last US plane will depart, the story will gradually fade from the news, and most Americans will forget about Afghanistan. Thousands, unfortunately, will not get out and that understanding is spreading amongst those who will not be treated well by the Taliban. Already, people are posting their goodbyes on freethought and atheist pages on social media. Rather than capitulate and hide who they are, they refuse. They have drank long and deep at the well of freedom and they understand what it means. My hope for them is that their inevitable suffering will be brief.

As egregious and disgusting the above examples are, there is one example which illustrates what happens when any society departs from civilization, a noun which requires no prefix, and becomes a theocracy. Nothing is more telling than examining the status of a woman who has been raped by five men. Civilization, however imperfectly the implementation, without exception views the woman as the victim and her attackers as the guilty parties who should be held accountable and punished according to the laws of the land if convicted in a court of law. The theocracy that now controls Afghanistan has a different take. The men are the victims and the woman is the guilty party. Her punishment? Death by stoning.

Pick a side.

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