Ten Thousand Veiled Suns
Pardons begged from Khaled Hosseini and his latest best seller, "A Thousand Splendid Suns". This is a quote from one of his favorite Farsi Poets about the beauty of Afghanistan. It may have been a land of beauty to some but to me, the culture that continues to barely survive there is anything but Splendid. Now we are hearing of the return of the Taliban. I can only imagine with horror what atrocities will also return.
Hosseini's first book, "Kite Runner" was a wonderful book. I blogged on it here. Now, I guess, it is being considered for a movie. It gave just the beginning insights into the "Male Dominated" culture of Afghanistan a few years back. What an eye-opener. It is so hard to believe that such a "tribal mentality" still exists in this world, especially in the Islamic World. Now his second book continues to reveal this primitve culture from the "Submissive Female" point of view. Actually, these women are only outwardly submissive. His story offers a glimmer of hope for those who can survive the physical part of the domination. (a feeling of "safety" inside a burka is reported) In an recent article in the L.A. Times, he expresses the hope that this society will progress and evolve to one of equality but not through "Macho American Intervention" i.e. forced democracy etc. like we are trying to do in Iraq.
How can any society hope to make it when they discount half of their human resources, hiding them in burkas and let the other half blow themselves up? There was an excellent commentary on Good Morning America today with Diane Sawyer about this very situaltion in the Gaza Strip. When you have jihadists blowing up their own, not just Jews and Christians, what have you really got...idiotsy. How long can they continue to do this? Their sense of frustration is so great, with their daily needs not being met by any kind of civil government, that they just continue to self destruct. (Almost like rats in a blistering hot desert cage)
A few days ago the L.A. Times had another excellent article in their "Column One" feature on the left of the front page entitled: "A Veiled-eye View of Saudi Segregation" It was a heart-felt report from Megan K. Stack who was recently back from being "embedded" in the above culture (Saudi) based in Egypt for many years. What insights she had, being a female reporter and having to wear the abaya, which, I guess is similar to the burka. She expressed an exasperation with it from the moment she had to don the full-length veil in the airplane arriving, to when she threw it off departing. And no one seemed to notice her frustration. It was as though women were expected to cover themselves completely so they won't "tempt" the men into any "unholsome thoughts or acts". Ridiculous! And yet, it wasn't too long ago that our leading presidential candidate, Jimmy Carter, had to publically confess that he had "lust in his heart" when he looked at certain women. And then, of course, there's Bill Clinton.
What is so fearful about an "empowered woman"? Is she going to cut your "you know what off"? Is she going to "swallow you up" with her superior competence? Are we that threatened by them? Our pop culture sure has fallen for the young, lean ones lately, who "kick butt". Jessica Alba after all is one of the "Fantastic Four". She better watch out, look what happen eventually to Jane Fonda...hip replacement from all that aerobisizing.
Seriously though, what will Islamic women have to do to be considered equal and valued. The poor heroine in "Thousand" eventually had to kill her husband in self-defence. Then she was summarily sentenced to a swift death in the arena. This was less than 10 years ago in Kabul (in the book) but I bet it is still happening all over the Islamic world. They just don't have a chance, even with increased educational opportunities. They are allowed to be doctors, teachers etc. all service and helping occupations, but not leaders politically or scientifically.
When we visited Istanbul, Turkey last year around this time I was struck with a number of incongrueties: gigantic mosques, lavishly carpeted, (smelly too) but only for the men; women beggars, who turned out to be pick-pockets, used by men in cues of tourists; proud husbands (heads up) carrying their male infants to the mosque to be dedicated with the dutiful wife(s) following the appropriate steps behind, heads downcast; circles of men only chanting and beating themselves in a public display of sadistic sanctitude(?). So they not only beat on their women.
What do we (our culture) have to fear from such a "primitive one"? Much. One of our founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson, read the Koran for just this reason. When he was president, he had "dealings" with this culture and it was not even then in its early stages. We are the "infidel" and we are to be eliminated, not assimilated as we might try to do. i.e. Congressman Ellison's swearing on T.J.'s Koran recently. What are we thinking? We are not "The Borg"! Bob