Saturday, January 18, 2014

Terrorism by the Book of Edgar Allan Poe

Yesterday's Taliban attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, was, without a doubt, a major news story, significant enough that it is still reverberating. Having now gone through several reports, I still find that the Al Jazeera English article, which takes wire service material and adds their own "local knowledge" sources, makes for one of the best accounts. Perhaps one of the reasons that my attention was drawn to their treatment was that it reminded me of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Masque of the Red Death" and the futility of that tale's protagonist to insulate himself and his closest friends from the ravages of a plague.

It struck me that both the Lebanese restaurant and the Wazir Akbar Khan district where it was located made for a setting with that same kind of insulation in mind. Those being insulated were the rich and mighty, foreigners and Afghans alike. Consider this sentence in the Al Jazeera report about the Taverna du Liban:
It has steel doors and customers have to pass through security to get in, as is the case with many restaurants in the city.
Consider, now, this sentence from the statement given by Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid:
There was a suicide attack on a foreign hotel where special foreign invaders are coming for dinner.
We may choose to debate whether or not that noun "invaders" is appropriate; but no such debate is necessary in the eyes of the Taliban.

This is yet another case in which it would be folly to deny that the attacker has a point of view. The use of that noun clearly indicates a point of view that foreigners are exploiting Afghan resources with the collusion of other Afghans getting rich in the process. This is an effort to fight back against the invasion and driver out the invaders. The only problem is that history tells us what happened the last time the Taliban succeeded in this mission.

All this took place just as Prince Prospero's most favored guests were preparing for the relocation of his fortified castle to Davos. My guess is that the Taliban will be given a generous amount of lip service. It is unlikely, however, that they will receive any other kind of attention from the World Economic Forum. This would make the Taliban the reductio ad absurdum of the activism of the impoverished. Someone should start wondering whether or not such bloodthirsty absurdity is really the only way to deal with the unabated growth of poverty around the world.

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