It's bad enough that UK researchers/journalists Alex Strick van Linschoten and Felix Kuehn (along with historian Faisal Devji) have published an anthology of poetry penned by Taliban militants, that same book- " Poetry of the Taliban (Columbia/Hurst)"- will be available in the U.S. come July 17, and Amazon has it available for pre-order for about $20.00.
There are, of course, those who applaud the endeavour. Robin Yassin-Kassab of the liberal UK Guardian says of the project:
"Poetry of the Taliban therefore, is a brave and useful project. Published this week, and already denounced in some quarters as "self-justifying propaganda", it offers a perspective on the conflict through the Other's eyes, something worth more than a library full of cold analysis."In fact, there has been quite a lot of praise. From the New Yorker, to the Wall Street Journal to the New York Times, people are saying it's a worthwhile effort. They think it's important to show the kinder more gentler side of some of the most ruthless, barbaric and violent religious extremists out there. Dr. James Caron of the University of Pennsylvania said,
These poems expose something of the full, textured, deeply conflicted humanity of those who actively consume and recirculate them, those who may be insurgents at the same time they are humans. In providing such a picture, the “insurgent” is restored a sense of humanity, and agency, and thus even (as the editors note) an accountability for violence that would be impossible to expect from a mere avatar.”
Humanity? Really? Who cares if these militants who stone people to death (mostly women, and for no good reason), behead their enemies, cut off disobeying wives' noses and ears, throw acid on young school girls, whip women for inadvertently showing some ankle under their oppressive burqas, sell their young girls like cattle, happen to write a little poetry. It doesn't humanize them one bit. Just because someone loves art or writes poetry does not balance out their inherent evil. Hitler supposedly wrote poetry too:
When your mother has already aged,
When her eyes love and hope
no longer see life as it once did,
When her feet, and tired,
Can no longer hold her while walking
So give her your arm in support,
Join her with joy,
The time will come when, weeping,
should accompany her on her last legs
And if you question something,
then give a response.
And if you ask again, talk to her!
And if you question yet again, respond,
Not eagerly, but with gentle calm.
And if she can not understand you clearly,
explain everything with gentle joy.
Will come when the bitter hour
that her lips will not ask anything more.
Nice, he loved his mommy, but he still orchestrated the murder of millions.
And the Taliban love their jihad. Here's one of the many poems in the anthology meant to help us relate to and understand the artistic, sensitive feminine side of these butchers. Foreign Policy has a few more on their site, for your enjoyment.
Hot, hot trenches are full of joy;
Attacks on the enemy are full of joy.
Guns in our hands and magazine belts over my shoulders;
Grenades on my chest are full of joy.
They enemy can't resist when he sees them;
Black hair and stiff moustaches are full of joy.
He who fights in the field is manly;
Houses full of black-haired women are full of joy.
We become eager two times after hearing it:
The clang, clang and rockets are full of joy.
Leave the lips and spring, O poet!
Poems full of feeling are full of joy.
Jawad, I say, on the true path of jihad,
All kinds of troubles are full of joy.
May 21, 2008