Culture And War

(8 PM – promoted by TheMomCat)

The first thing to go out the window when an aggressive, warlike nation starts a war (other than the truth) is whatever culture understanding may have existed before.  

For instance: what was the  American pop culture 1960’s view of middle eastern culture?  Belly dance and music, beautiful architecture, snake charming, funny hats. Even children’s story’s like Ali Baba.  

Conversely, what was the 1960’s view of Vietnam? Sub human dirty gooks.  

Today, there’s a piece in the NYT about the beautiful ancient art of Vietnam, which surely never would have occured in the war years:

see more at:…

Before we blew up all the minarets in Bagdad, it was necessary to remove them as objects of beauty, as expressions of humanity — we had to remove the ME from our cultural radar.  How many American children today know about Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves?  And how many worry about hook nosed terrorists?

To know a culture –even a Mickey Mouse pale imitation of the real thing — is to understand the humanity, that there are real children, real families there at the other end of the gun-sights; different from us, yes, but real nonetheless.  

Culture (and language also) is also by it’s very nature subversive.  One musician, writer, artist can communicate anything–anything at all, and it need not be sanctioned by the powerful oppressive leaders of a government or religion.    And a powerful group of artists –well, we can all see what subversive artists did in the US in the ’60’s, and in the punk era also. (and perhaps that is what is so missing today)

Since the 1980s, Afghanistan has been involved in near constant violence. As such, music has been suppressed and recording for outsiders minimal, despite a rich musical heritage.

During the 1990s, the post-Soviet and Taliban governments banned instrumental music and much public music-making.[1] In spite of arrests and destruction of musical instruments, musicians have continued to play their trade into the present. Kabul has long been the regional cultural capital, but outsiders have tended to focus on the city of Herat, which is home to traditions more closely related to Iranian music than in the rest of the country.[2] Lyrics throughout most of Afghanistan are typically in Persian/Dari and Pashto.

– from  wikipedia

The Taliban’s dynamiting of the giant Buddhas of Bamiyan in March 2001 was only the most dramatic expression of their mission to obliterate all “idolatrous” images from Afghanistan’s pre-Islamic past. They also destroyed 2,500 other cultural artifacts from Kabul’s National Museum of Afghanistan, many of them priceless. But thanks to the heroic efforts of curators, they didn’t get it all. Hidden Afghanistan, a traveling exhibit that recently opened in Amsterdam’s Nieuwe Kerk (New Church), gives a tantalizing glimpse of Afghanistan’s stunningly diverse cultural legacy, and tells an engrossing tale about how these remnants of it were saved. In May the exhibition will go to Washington to start a 17-month tour of the U.S.

“The message of this exhibit is that Afghanistan is not only a country of war, destruction and terrorism, but of life, culture and art,” said Omar Sultan, Afghanistan’s Deputy Minister of Information and Culture, at the exhibition’s opening. “We have a cultural heritage that belongs not only to Afghanistan, but to the world.”…

You can’t have endless war without dehumanization.   People won’t stand for the killing of real people, if they really truly know about it/know about the people.  Well, at least it makes it much much harder-you have to convince them their own lives are imminently at stake, at a minimum.

Part of the whole American culture of fear that started in 2001, and continues in the new administration is the message: don’t go anywhere outside of the US — or you may get hurt (actually you they might learn something) .

Why are American Media so obsessed with airplane terrorism, but if someone blew up a bus or a train–they’d barely even show up?

The single most important thing we can do is to promote American understanding of the many cultures that Bush/Obama/Whoever want to destroy.  


  1. to subvert and control culture. To centralize and control the ‘content’  

  2. glad its on the FP.

    The single most important thing we can do is to promote American understanding of the many cultures that Bush/Obama/Whoever want to destroy.  

    Im down with that!

  3. You have pointed out a universal truth about conflict and

    war: The enemy is always dehumanized. The promulgated American myth of “the greatest nation on earth” places the rest of mankind in an inferior status. It creates a false superiority, and makes the rest of the world recoil in


    I hope we are seeing the last gasp of this cultural arrogance, but I worry about the military trying to prop up a myth that will lead absolutely nowhere, except to poverty and decline.

    Multicultural appreciation is the answer, but we also have

    to get along with others in our own,so called, culture.

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