Like many in the West I didn’t have a lot of knowledge about the Taliban until the destruction of the Buddhas of Bamyan. Truth be told, few things capture my attention like the destruction of art and antiquities. Shortly after this act of barbarianism we here in the West were flooded with information about the brutality in the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan”. We learned how a group of religious zealots had effectively enslaved the female population of an entire nation. Make no mistake, life for men, while not as brutal as life for woman was not easy either. Life under the Taliban included the following restrictions:
Men were required to have a beard extending farther than a fist clamped at the base of the chin. On the other hand, they had to wear their head hair short. Men were also required to wear a head covering.
Possession was forbidden of depictions of living things, including photographs of them, stuffed animals, and dolls.
These rules were issued by the Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Suppression of Vice (PVSV) and enforced by its “religious police,” a concept thought to be borrowed from the Wahhabis. In newly conquered towns hundreds of religious police beat offenders — typically men who shaved and women who were not wearing their burqa properly — with long sticks.
Theft was punished by the amputation of a hand, rape and murder by public execution. Married adulterers were stoned to death. In Kabul, punishments were carried out in front of crowds in the city’s former soccer stadium. (1)
Believe me, I understand my liberal brethren’s desire to fold our tent and bring our soldiers home from Afghanistan, but what good are our liberal values if we walk away without doing everything reasonable within our power to insure that the people of this much suffering nation are not returned to the brutality of life under the Taliban. I think many us of make a grave mistake by lumping the war in Afghanistan with that of Iraq. There was more than just cause for us to remove the Taliban from power, not only had they brutalized their own people, they willingly allowed their country to become the operational base to the one of the greatest mass murders of our time. Also the sins of Saddam Hussein pale in comparison to those of the Taliban. Iraq before the American invasion for better or worse was a functioning secular nation, Afghanistan was anything but. I for one am not sure we as a nation can hold our heads up if we walk away from the people of Afghanistan and return them to the certain horror of a life in a Taliban controlled state.