Friday, December 11, 2009

The Afghan people are owed "the same rights we enjoy in our privileged and free societies."

From the Afghan human rights activist Wazhma Frogh, and Lauryn Oates, my co-founder at the Canada Afghanistan Solidarity Committee, a cri de guerre on the solemn duty we owe our Afghan comrades - and the way the rich world's "anti-war" activism abdicates from that duty:

"If western feminists who have staked out a "troops out" position remembered to ask Afghan women their views, they would find that rather than bristling at "masculine militarization," "cultural imperialism," or any other in-vogue sin found on the placards waved at rallies, many Afghan women are haunted by the memory of the Taliban's public stoning to death of women. They recall what life was like when you couldn't leave your home alone, when you could not speak aloud in the streets because your voice was deemed inhuman, subservient, inherently impure. It was not the West's interference that led to their collective misery, but the lack of it."

Read all of it.

From yesterday, Lauryn's essay in The Mark, commemorating International Human Rights Day and Canada's National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, elaborates on the theme. I noticed this: "During the discussion period of a dialogue event on Canada’s role in Afghanistan post-2011 recently held in Vancouver, I listened to a seemingly educated, mentally fit man say, in his support for the Taliban’s involvement in a new government in Afghanistan, 'Look, we can’t tell them how to treat their women, okay?' The only person (other than myself) in the room who seemed at all perplexed by this statement was the sole Afghan woman in attendance."

Closely related, from the perspectives of two fellow men, is Nick Cohen's Turning A Blind Eye To Misogyny in Standpoint Magazine, and Martin Amis, interviewed by my old colleague Stewart Bell, thus: "I want to get away from all that, this terrible sort of antsy discussion that we have, with everyone poised on the panic button and wanting to shout out 'racist.' We've been infantilized and stupefied by a generation of this kind of thought and I just want to readjust it as a feminist issue and nothing else."

Breaking: Here's an innovation from our brave Iranian comrades. The revolution will not be crushed.

Meanwhile, I'm home from Kandahar, safe and sound, so thanks to everyone who's been asking and wishing me safe and well. Still jetlagged (you can tell from this conversation I just had with Rob Breakenridge on CHQR's The World Tonight), but finally finishing up an expansive 3,500-word essay for Vancouver Review on the strange science-fiction aspects of the Kandahar experience, and soon turning to a handful of little journalese assignments I'm obliged to fulfill, which I'll link to from here when they're out. It was grand to have such full and intimate access to all the senior commanders at RC South, at the big, grinding sandbox machine known as KAF, but it was the rank-and-file soldiers who really made the trip worthwhile, and I'll try to get some of their stories circulated, too. Canucks rule.

Speaking of friends far and near, in far fewer than six degrees of separation, some welcome news about good things that happened to good people when I was away:

My dear chum Yasuko Than has won the Journey Prize this year, and the $10,000 that comes with it, which is to say I intend to collect a glawshseen of spirits at her expense, soonest. Subtract a degree: Her story also appeared in the Vancouver Review, and shortlisted for the same prize was my old pal Dave Margoshes.

Subtract another two degrees: The Globe story was written by my buddy Tom Hawthorn (and come to think of it I believe I owe him a drink), and Tom also wrote recently about the recovery and return of another old friend, John Mann, whose Spirit of the West (as in), one of the greatest bands to emerge in Canada over the past quarter century, had intended to perform for our soldiers in Kandahar, before things went so badly for him.

Hardly any degrees of separation remaining: In that same Hawthorn story, there is mention of the new musical Beyond Eden, written by Bruce Ruddell, which premieres January 16 at the Vancouver Playhouse. Just got a call from Bruce only a couple of hours ago, to let me know how things were going. Eerie.

Finally, my old buddy Jeff Hatcher, of the Blue Shadows (right up there with Spirit of the West) among other ventures, is getting some well-earned recognition. Vancouver's Wendy Bird has just released a CD devoted to covers of Jeff's songs, joined by the likes of Elvis Costello, Colin James and others. I will now boast of having sung some of Jeff's songs, with Jeff, back when we were Gulf Islanders and not the townies we are now.

It's Friday. Off to the pub. Here's Jeff with the Shadows, back in the 90s. They're on the back of a truck, on a street in Vancouver, and they still sound sublime. I Believe:


Blogger Kurt Langmann said...

Good for Jeff, I will have to latch onto a copy of the disc. Thanks for the trip down memory lane. And RIP Billy Cowsill.

5:37 PM  
Blogger kellie said...

On the Code Pink excursion to Afghanistan that Wazhma Frogh and Lauryn Oates are writing about, Sara Davidson was along on the trip and has been writing a very interesting account. Here she is on a meeting Code Pink had with Norine MacDonald, a Canadian working in Afghanistan:

Norine adds, “I’d like to see the troops go into Pakistan and rout out the insurgents.” There’s silence at the table. (After the meeting, Ann would say, “Norine lives here and that’s reality. We represent the ideal, and somebody has to hold that.”)

Norine continues, “Here’s another controversial proposal but you’ll like it better: Give all the aid and development money to Afghan women. It will empower them. The men will have to go to them if they want a new well.”

Jodie says, “That’s what we fight for, but we want to do it without troops.”

“You need both,” Norine says.

“If you had to choose between troops and development?” Jodie asks.

“Had to choose? I’d put money on development.”

“Yay!” Jodie says.

This kind of questioning divides our group. Some are upset that the Code Pink leaders are leading people to get the answers they want instead of listening without bias.

More here.

1:24 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

Noticed it, thanks to you, Kellie.

Norine, by the way, is a good friend of the cause. formerly with the Senlis Council.


1:25 PM  

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