Picturing the Taliban - Macleans.ca

Picturing the Taliban


So that Afghanistan cover created no small amount of debate in the office today, and opinions were divided to say the least. My take, short version: I’m fine with the photo, and I think the media should be less squeamish about showing this sort of stuff in general.  I also think the story is important, though I think the coverline borders on emotional blackmail and is mildly misleading. I don’t take the cynical view that it is because print is dying and Time is going all sensational just to get readers and cause a commotion. I’ll let you all hash it out in the comments.

Meanwhile, I’m interested in seeing what Terry Glavin will say about it, and Brian Platt is still nice and riled up about the Wikileaks.

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Picturing the Taliban

  1. No, we need more fluffy Playboy bunny pictures, and Britney Spears going braless, or a good sob over Victoria Beckhams tragic fight with bunions.


  2. Would it not be cheaper and more effective just to let everyone in Afghanistan who now professes to hate the taliban come to Canada as a refugee? Problem solved!

    And they can all wear burqas, just to bug neocons.

    • Yep, that's France. Full of neocons.

      • Sarkozy is conservative.

        • That's what I said. Only neocons are concerned about burqas, therefore France and Quebec are filled with neocons.

          You should be worried though that 54% of the population are neocons. That doesn't bode well for the next election.

          • Most people haven't the slightest interest in burkkas…in any country.

            That's Kory-speak.

          • *shrugs* Most of the neo-cons on these boards don't give a damn about burqas either. Certainly not the regulars, and certainly not me.

          • Conservatives btw aren't the same as neo-cons.

            I am socially progressive, and fiscally conservative.

            Harper is socially regressive, and fiscally drunken sailor….which is why I don't like him.

          • Well, there is no such thing as socially regressive. Society doesn't move in any particular way towards progress.

            There are disagreements of opinion between people though. But generally, one or the other is mistaken or wrong rather than "regressive". Or they desire different things out of life. Or they have different priorities.

            But if I was forced to progress to your way of life, and way of thinking, I wouldn't be happy Emily. Therefore I don't think it would be progress at all.

          • Yes, there is definitely such a thing as socially regressive.

            Iran, which was moving to a modern society has regressed.

            Cambodia under Pol Pot regressed.

            Canada is regressing.

            Since you know nothing of my way of life or thought, you have no idea what you'd be.

          • They didn't regress, they turned from one society to another society.

            It isn't like Cambodia had a communist agrarian culture where they shot everyone with an modicum of education at some point in their past. Iran wasn't ruled by Ayatollas before Khomeini. Also, I don't think Canada is reverting to a British colony.

            I think I know a little of your thought. You aren't shy about expressing your opinions about everyone who isn't you.

          • No, they regressed from today into yesterday.

            Something Canada is also doing. From the 21st century to the 19th.

            No, you know nothing of my thought. Or anyone elses apparently.

          • Well you showed me. Restating your original comment and then adding an insult is the ironclad answer my rebuttal, and a proper way to have a conversation or debate.

          • No, no one is able to show you anything. You have blinkers on.

          • Since you know nothing of my way of life or thought…

            True, he's no psychiatrist.

          • …or even normal….

          • Well. Kory's polling on burkas. The old working up the crowd routine.

          • Yup, wind people up. Why make them think?

            Emotion…that's the ticket.

    • That makes no sense. Burqas are one of the symbols of Afghan oppression of women. So you are advocating that they bring their oppression to Canada.

      • Well if we're getting rid of the symbols of religious repression for women, there goes the nun's habit, the Amish, Hutterite and Mennonite clothing…..

        • None of those examples are anything like a burqa. Covering your hair is not the same as covering your face. Covering your hair some of the time in public is not the same as covering your face all the time in public.

          Could you at least try to make sense? A comment like that is just pointless partisan tripe.

          • They are all clothes of religious repression.

            And bikers and skiiers cover their faces.

            I don't know how my comment could be partisan….is there some party in Canada promoting burkkas?

          • Clearly you cannot read.

          • LOL look who's talking.

            Someone who thinks burkka commentary is somehow 'partisan'.

        • Well, given that you think baptism is equivalent to child abuse, you shouldn't have a problem with that.

          • Baptism isn't, brainwashing is.

            You know…what you are.

          • Emily, and I'm being serious here. Can you say one comment without a personal insult?

          • Sure…when someone isn't trying to convert me.

            See, I return insults in kind.

          • How am I possibly trying to convert you?

            Do you think that anything I say is secretly a means to try to convince you to convert to Catholicism? Some kind of subliminal code or something?

          • Stop dragging religion into every topic. Or asking me to listen to your promotions of religion. I'm not interested.

          • Emily, who brought religion into things on a news story about saggy pants? I wasn't the one who brought up the Vatican.

            Who brought in religion on discussions of Afghan customary law?

            Who keeps talking every two comments about how religious thought is dragging our society screaming back to an age of darkness?

            Stop attacking my faith, and I won't defend it so much. If you just want carte blanche to insult my faith in a public forum without anyone saying anything about it, well too bad.

            However, I can assure you that I have absolutely no interest in converting you. There isn't enough charity in my heart for it.

          • You did.

            I'm not attacking your faith, I don't even know what it is. Nor do I care.

            Hint: You will never convert me, so I'm not in the least concerned.

            Oh…and there is a saying:

            The last time religion ruled the world they called it the Dark Ages.

          • In academia, the Dark Ages is frowned upon as a term by historians who study the period between 300-1450. It is considered to be highly inaccurate and insulting.

            Emily, I did not bring religion into any of the debates this evening. I merely responded to them. I have absolutely no interest in converting you. None. Zilch. Zero.

            I do not like you enough to want to try to convert you. I do not think the maclean's forum is an appropriate place to try to convert people. I have never, ever, been able to convert anyone, even myself. So piss off with your accusation I'm trying to convert you simply because I'm pointing out how you are wrong about a great many things.

            In fact, I believe you are the stupidest person I have encountered in years.

          • Yup….Bible College grad here folks.

            We can consider your 'education' a dead topic.

            A moment of silence, please.

          • Just an intelligent comment from her would be a change.

          • If you make an intelligent comment, I'll give you one in return.

            Otherwise, ask a silly question, get a ……

      • Think harder.

  3. Unfortuantely I missed the fun as my Mr Clean mag l has fail to arrive two weeks now (I DID pay my bill)

  4. "I think the coverline borders on emotional blackmail and is mildly misleading"

    Mildly? Misleading? It's massively, grossly misleading and borders on being false by omission.

    An accurate coverline would have been: " This is what happens in Afghanistan, has for decades, continues today and nothing we do is apt to change it. Ever."

    • It's also what happens in many other countries. We just don't pay any attention to it elsewhere.

    • That's a bit pessimistic isn't it?

      I mean, it isn't like they really did stuff like this 50 years ago. At least, not on an institutional level.

      • I'd say realistic.

        Widespread abuse has been documented for at least 20 years. Despite the attempts at embracing modernity beginning in the 40's, it remained a predominately tribal and wholly Muslim society. I'd guess Afghan women have endured abuse on a wide scale for a century or more.

        • Yeah, but you're just guessing right? I have my suspicions that this wasn't a common practice before the rise of the Taliban, and certainly not before Afghanistan became a failed state.

          Besides, even if they were tribal and Muslim, it didn't mean they were chopping off noses. Sometimes things that seem ancient, superstitious, traditional or barbaric are modern inventions or developments. In this case because a bunch of schools got started up in Pakistan that were taught by crazy Wahabi extremists from Saudi Arabia, whose students became "The Taliban".

          • It has been a common practice for centuries, by every religion, everywhere.

          • That is a very ahistorical thing to say.

          • Actually it's well documented.

          • Emily, you really shouldn't argue with about history if you have no training in it.

            For example, for centuries on end in Europe, the Church did not use corporal force in punishment, and certainly not execution or mutilation, whereas the secular courts did.

            My issue is with you saying that "religions" specifically do this, and that they do it constantly, everywhere. As if the only thing stopping me from cutting your nose off is that I'm being held check by a secular state. It is a very scary and bigoted thing to say, that has no basis in historical fact.

            Now certainly a strong secular state that respects my human rights is a great thing, but a secular state (or an irreligious official) need not respect my life, my liberty, or my body. That is very well documented as well. Starting with the French Revolution in fact.

          • I see that once again you have skipped reading the thread.

            There were no secular courts in Europe for a couple of thousand years…it was all religion.

            Secularism is a very recent thing, and by the sound of it you haven't a clue what it means.

          • Hmm… I could have sworn there was a distinction between medieval secular courts and church courts on matters of jurisdiction and punishment.

            Oh well, I'm sure Emily has actually done her research. What I know just because I've read several historical legal codes such as the Institutes of Gaius, the Gragas, the Corpus Iurus Civilis, the Dictum of Theodoric…. etc. etc.

            I also guess Emily knows better than me whether the French Revolution was interested in the establishment of a secular state. Funny, I would have thought by all the priests they executed, and the mass conversion of churches to secular use that they weren't particularly devout.

          • Secularism: Secularism is the concept that government or other entities should exist separately from religion and/or religious beliefs.

            Since everyone in medieval courts were religious, secularism did not exist.

            In fact, even considering it got you a nice bonfire and a stake.

            The French Revolution didn't occur in the Middle Ages. And it existed to eliminate the nobility.

          • Okay, so everyone who goes to church on Sunday is not a secularist, and therefore is unfit to sit on the bench. Got ya.

          • Unable to read the definition were you?

          • The history of the church and women's rights speaks for itself. It's all about men controlling women.

          • Oh I'll agree with that!

          • Well, we're not arguing that women were intended to be submissive to their husbands in medieval Christianity.

            Though women were allowed to own their own property and businesses, which puts them above republican Rome and classical Athens in terms of rights and power. Could hold offices too, though not clerical ones.

          • Well actually they were. Women were non-persons in medieval christianity….no property, no business no nothing. It was an open question if they even had souls.

            And no, they couldn't hold office.

            Where DID you learn history, fergawdsakes?

          • From a university.

            And everything you said is incorrect, and easily disproven with a couple of names. Elanor of Aquitaine held her lands and title in her own name, Margery Kempe had several failed businesses before becoming a professional hysteric at funerals.

            Oh, and of course women were baptised, which wouldn't make much sense if they didn't have souls. Women held land and property (which we know from inheritance records), businesses (which we know from tax rolls), and there are even instances of women-only artisan guilds.

            Then the reformation came, and the work women were allowed to do became restricted, and guilds began to be considered for men only. Women also ceased to be mendicants and were forced into cloisters, abbesses lost a lot of independent jurisdictional authority over their abbey's property and that property was subordinated under bishops or abbots.

          • Then demand your money back, because that's drivel.

            Women were legally non-existent in the Middle Ages. Men controlled all the property and businesses, and women were in convents or jails.

            The Reformation was just a Protestant version of the same thing.

            You must have slept through class….or you went to a Bible College…same thing.

          • Okay, I slept through class. I know nothing about what I'm talking about.

            I also made up Elanor of Aquitaine and Margery Kempe. I also falsified tax records and other primary source documentation, as well as depictions in art or contemporary written accounts.

            I should have known I couldn't pull the wool over your eyes Emily.

          • I agree with everything you said.

            See…that wasn't hard was it?

          • Oh dear God, I hope you're joking. I really hope you're joking.

          • Having read through the entire string between the two of you on this post and the one above, TTE, it does not appear that engaging her is of any value.

          • There is really no point in discussing things with someone who has a smarter than thou attitude.

          • I'm suggesting abuse – i.e., treating women as the property of men and essentially as chattel without access to education and employment opportunities – is not a recent development.

          • Sure, the idea that women should be submissive to men and not having access to employment opportunities probably has been going on forever.

            But it isn't like people were chopping off noses in the 1950's by government decree. Not in the 1850's for that matter. It takes a pretty extreme and totalitarian government to chop noses off by decree for domestic issues. After all, bodily mutilation of a family member is generally the start of a feud rather than the end of one, no matter who is doing the cutting.

            Fortunately, we don't have to guess. Since I learned to use Google thanks to Emily's instruction a few weeks ago, I've got a .pdf by the International Legal Foundation.

            There does seem to be some bodily mutilation in a certain region for rape, but the ear was cut off of a man. That doesn't mean there wasn't more bodily mutilation as punishment, so I guess I'll switch my opinion (and my skepticism) over to your side. I will concede that you are probably right Lax.

            Mostly though, it seems to be like the Norse/German legal codes, where mostly everything was handled with either blood payment of money or property, or banishment. I notice as well that mutilation was considered to be worth a higher blood payment than murder. It literally cost you less to kill someone than to cripple them, though the family had the right to seek revenge.

          • That adds absolutely nothing to what I said.

          • No, it replaces what you said with actual fact.

          • Yes, my citation of an academic authority about customary laws of Afghanistan prior to the Soviet invasion, is totally trumped by your wikipedia link about random references to mutilation that have little to do with Afghanistan.

            As well, given that I conceded the argument to the person I was talking to, I have absolutely no idea what your problem is about what I said.

          • I said punishment by mutilation didn't start with the Taliban. It has been going on for thousands of years, and by all religions.

          • Another crappy Whataboutary by Emily.

            She claims to be a lousy feminist, but then when confronted with Talibans cutting off women's noses, Emily says – "oh well, that has been going on for ages – no big deal".

            What an immoral and retarded person.

    • Such optimism.

  5. Showing the brutality of the Taliban presents and awkward scenario for the Canadian media.

    Firstly, we Canadians aren't offered this news, no matter how real, how true, how stark. That very true reality has been kept hush, hush.

    Instead we've been fed stories of Taliban maybe, perhaps, allegedly getting slapped by those who've had to watch their daughters getting their noses cut off.

    No doubt showing this truth caused consternation in the newsrooms, who's meme has been to portray our soldiers (leading inexorably to Harper of course) as the true bad guys.

    This barbarity shows the repugnance of such a proposition.

    Repugnant indeed.

    • Apart from maybe NOW magazine, what newsrooms have been portraying our soldiers as bad guys? What news outlets have ignored the plight of Afghan women and girls? This straw man is in your head.

  6. Seems a bit strange to have a cover with the title, "What happens if we leave Afghanistan," and a picture showing the results of a horrific act that happened while we were there. It seems to be what happens if we stay in Afghanistan too.

    • That's disingenuous. The event did not happen anywhere near where there were coalition soldiers around. It's clearly true that where we maintain a presence in Afghanistan, such events will not happen.

      • LOL yeah right.

        Cuz coalition soldiers do a nose count every 15 minutes.

        • Well no, but this was done by decree right? If there are no Taliban in power, they don't make the decrees. Especially if you have people in power who follow a law code that doesn't advocate chopping people's noses off.

          Now there are arguments to be made for not using force to achieve foreign policy goals, but pacificism has its price too. Namely, you can't bring about any positive change, or protect people from getting executed in soccer stadiums and getting their noses chopped off. You pretty much have to accept that they will do it for the foreseeable future until people are persuaded by reasonable argument or integrated relationships with the societies of the world. A process that will take generations or centuries. In the meantime, you are going to be sacrificing a lot of people, in this case women.

          • It's a Muslim country, and it doesn't matter if the Taliban or the war lords are in power. It's an ancient form of punishment, and will continue until and unless Afghanistan joins the 21st century.

            Since we haven't managed it ourselves yet, I hold out little hope for Afghans.

          • Okay then, hold still. I got my knife right here…

          • Fine….would you like your dick pinked or scalloped?

          • Maybe we shouldn't have let Karzai pass a law allowing a man to rape his wife, if she fails to have sex with him. It might have been an oportuntity to demonstrate how much we care about the women of Afghanistan.

          • Yeah, major whoopsie there. Doesn't look as though we were serious after all, does it…..

      • I wasn't being disingenuous at all. The event happened while coalition soldiers were in Afghanistan. Full stop. It happens while they're there, it'll happen when they leave. I guess a title along the lines of "We believe the incidence of this will be higher if we leave Afghanistan" isn't as catchy, though.

        • OK. Let's follow your logic. There were many incidents of repression in Afghanistan, Pakistan, China, North Korea, Myanmar, and other countries in Asia. This occurred while coalition soldiers were in Asia. Full stop.

          In fact, no matter where in Afghanistan, in Asia, or on the planet the coalition forces happen to be, bad stuff happens somewhere else on the planet. I guess it's all pointless.

          • Well it's pointless, not to mention arrogant, trying to force them to behave like us.

            Especially when we set such a bad example.

          • Well, I guess if the cover said, "What happens when we leave Asia", and it had a picture showing the results of a horrific act that happened while coalition soldiers were in Asia as part of a mission to secure Asia, then I suppose that would be a bit of a strange cover too. In that case, it seems to be what happens if we stay in Asia too. I guess a title along the lines of "We believe the incidence of this will be higher if we leave Asia" isn't as catchy either, though.

            I didn't think my original point was particularly controversial. Afghanistan hasn't been secured to the point where these horrific acts aren't happening. To show the results of a horrific act that happened while we were there, with a title saying that this is what happens when we leave, is a bit strange.

          • And it never will be.

            Only the Afghans can change this….and they never will as long as we keep invading them

  7. If an organization is interested in showing the news, then the cover is appropriate. This type of repression was commonplace in Afghanistan and a photo can convey this reality to people better than words.

  8. Wouldn't the coverline be more accurate if it said "Look what happened while we were in Afghanistan?" or perhaps the more aggressive, "Look what we did in Afghanistan?"

  9. Don't you love how the "peaceniks" ignore the basic realities of the brutal Taliban rule over an entire country.

    Now they hold pockets and hide in caves. When they ruled the country their brutality was national policy.

    The left cannot admit this because to admit that military force may just operate against evil goes against their utopic vision that just putting down guns will make the world one big love in.

  10. I can't comment on thhis one as Mr Mac Clean or the Canada PO has declined to grace me mailbox with cop0ies for three weeks. And I AM paid up.

  11. I suppose I must label myself a barbarian, but I am in favor of hunting down the human garbage that did this, and all of its followers, and turning them into smoking piles of decomposing meat. I know that many of you may consider that to be a little extreme, but I still walk on two legs and call myself a real man.

  12. Careful, Greg,

    "Progressive" women will shun you for that comment. The rest will simply appreciate the fact that someone still knows right from wrong.

    (note: most "progressive" women I have met were invariably pinch-faced and spitefully ignorant….so you may be ok)