From our partners at DownWithTyranny!
Tuesday I’m having dinner with a friend of mine, Sonia, a Berlin-born novelist and Holocaust survivor. She’s written over 40 books and is working on a new novel about a family of refugees who have resettled in the U.S. from Afghanistan. Two of her early books, The Journey to America and Silver Days, are about German Jewish refugees who flee the horrors of the Holocaust and resettle in America. I’ve been giving her pointers, from my two lengthy stays in Afghanistan about what the family she’s inventing were likely to have gone through– and what kind of mindset they will be bringing with them– before they arrived in the U.S. Tuesday’s dinner is going to be about Pashtunwalli, the code that predates Islam Afghans live by. I sent her the post related to the mass shooting in Orlando by the son of Afghan refugees, hyper-linked above.
In their list of 31 lies that Trump spouted last week, Maggie Haberman and Alexander Burns in included one that’s been driving me crazy– and that I’ve seen Trump repeat at rallies all week– namely that “We have cities that are far more dangerous than Afghanistan.” That’s not even remotely close to true.
The first time I got to Afghanistan was in 1969, a relatively peaceful time, when Mohammad Zahir Shah was still the king and gradually introducing western ways into the country. I left just before he was deposed in a coup and the country slowly but steadily descended into chaos, coups and civil war. At the end of December, 1979, the Russians invaded. The country I loved so much has experienced almost 4 decades of non-stop mega-violence. No American whop hasn’t been in a war zone– and that includes Herr Trumpf, a draft dodger– has ever seen anything like it. No American city– not even Rahm Emanuel’s Chicago– is anything like Afghanistan.
Even when I was there, in relatively peaceful times, Afghanistan was more dangerous than any city in America. Other than in Kabul, the capital city, an Afghan male would no sooner walk out of his house without a gun than he would walk out of his house without pants. And the aforementioned Pashtunwalli is so punitive and retaliatory that a minor misunderstanding could easily– and often did– result in deadly violence. Afghanistan was– and is– an extreme patriarchal society. Women and children are routinely and universally treated as property by men. Economic disparity between the very rich and everyone else is so enormous and plays such an immense role in power and status assignations that danger was everywhere at all times. Violence between ethnic groups, religious sects, clans, tribes, regions was pervasive. In many parts of the country, there was no law and no order. Most people outside of Kabul didn’t even recognize the authority of a country called Afghanistan. I was shocked in the second biggest city, Kandahar, 4-5 hours away from Kabul by car, to find that people referred to the king as the king of Kabul.
As with most things he talks about on the campaign trail, Trump doesn’t have any idea what’s he’s talking about. He says whatever pops into his primitive skull. And if it “works,” he keeps repeating it, which doesn’t make it any truer. Some say he’s severely addicted to prescription drugs. That could be. But that he’s afflicted with narcissistic personality disorder is beyond a doubt, as anyone who has ever been in contact with him will tell you. Trump’s insane. No matter how abhorrent voting for Clinton appears to be, it’s a tradeoff worth taking to prevent him from ever getting into the White House. He should be dropped off in Afghanistan’s Hindu Kush for a winter– as I once was– and see if he survives. He’d be a different person, which would be much welcomed by the entire world.
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