Events in Afghanistan are about to destroy our American complacency
"When you're dead, you're a dead peckerhead." —John Prine
We humans struggle with the realities of life and death. Whether you're religious or not, the death of someone with whom you're close profoundly affects you. "If it bleeds, it leads," on the other hand puts death at a distance. We are disturbed, yet fascinated with mayhem, but unless it happens to someone we know personally, we can, and do, dismiss localized violence from our minds. If we didn't do that, we'd drown in sorrow every day.
When we witness extraordinarily callous behavior, such as that from our president and his minions (or is it the other way around?) when they simply abandoned Americans, Afghan allies, and even dogs to the Taliban, it's harder to shield ourselves from a sick stomach, even though it's all happening far away. We did this. Our decisions and the paralysis of those in D.C. to stop the bad actors have caused these life-and-death problems.
Haunting images of a brutal regime at its worst are blasted across TV screens, as pundits and guests on talk shows rationalize the decisions made. Knowing we left a vague "10%" of our resident Americans behind in-country, and that this number apparently includes a whole lot of schoolkids from California, we start feeling a bit rough. The same occurs when we see pictures of dog crates left on the tarmac, our loyal companions, bomb-sniffers, helpless to let themselves out of the cages. We are a little relieved to hear they've been set free to roam Kabul, but only until we remember that this is a culture that reviles dogs as unclean despite the Afghan hound breed's existence. I'm not sure which are held in less regard, dogs or women, but I suspect that the answer is both.
We have innocent children, we have hapless dogs, we have people who were turned away from the airport gates, others who had their passports stolen at Taliban "checkpoints," and who knows how many others, who we suspect are all doomed but for the surreptitious help they're getting from retired combatants desperate to uphold our honor.
We have an administration that simply doesn't care. Its members don't care about the Americans, and they don't care to honor our promises to Afghans who helped us in our efforts over the last 20 years. They also don't care about a lost generation of children, especially the girls doomed to a life of pain, drudgery, and sexual slavery. We will no doubt be made to watch as Americans are rounded up, beaten, killed, or paraded as hostages, flaunted by the sick-minded, malevolent forces that now control the country. Maybe it will awaken the souls of our ostensible leaders, spurring some action, rather than the vacuous litany of meaningless words they spout.
There are already stories of systematic house-to-house searches, followed by the murder of anyone who ever helped us as identified by the biometric records we so graciously left the Taliban. Soon, I'm sure, we'll be able to take a step back and see the mass graves from our satellites in space. I have no doubt they will exist, for to leave thousands of slaughtered people in place will be to invite pestilence and disease into the city. I'm sure there will be plenty of enslaved women to take care of this macabre work, as their masters prod them along with canes to their backs.
Perhaps my imagination runs away with me a bit. Time will tell, but history is on the side of my being correct. We've had the Nazis, we've had the killing fields of Cambodia, we have records of purges and pogroms going back centuries. We've had the Tutsis and the Hutus and, more recently, Boko Haram. We have the unknown horrors in North Korea and the Uighur slaves of China.
Add the next years in Afghanistan to the list. Women, enslaved, raped, maimed, and murdered. Civil rights, as we know them, gone. Violent plots carried out against those of us they hate, guaranteed. We live in a barbaric world, and we, in this pretty, once-proud country where the rule of law used to reign, have been insulated from much of that until now. Instead, we obsess about our over-magnified dilemmas of gender, word usage, and a virus that ought to have paled to insignificance by now. These are interesting times we live in, and they are about to get a tad more violent, I think.
The only cold comfort is that we, too, will each someday be released from watching it all unfold. It will, eventually, be someone else's problem to solve. Sadly for many of us, the task will fall to our kids and grandkids. That brings it closer to home once again.
Image: The Taliban beat a woman publicly. YouTube screen grab.
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