Tag Archives: afghanistan

Remembering Christopher Hitchens

Today marks the what would have been Christopher Hitchens’ 66th birthday. While the controversial writer lost his long battle with cancer in 2011, nearly half a decade later his legacy continues to remain a puzzle to most. To some, Hitchens was a brilliant iconoclast, fearlessly proclaiming truth and reason in a world crippled by political correctness and blind sentimentality. To others, Hitchens was a traitor who abandoned his radical roots in favor of jack-booted imperialism and  militarism. After all this time, the question remains: Who was Hitchens?

Born in Porstmouth, England, Hitchens first began his prolific career as a writer for a number of leftist magazines, eventually joining New Statesman in the early 70s, where he quickly made a name for himself as a fiery critic of the the Vietnam War. Hitchens would go on to become an acclaimed foreign correspondent, frequent contributor to The Nation and Vanity Fair, and unapologetic critic of most of the political establishment. No one- from Ronald Reagan to Bill Clinton, from Jerry Falwell to the royal family- escaped Hitchens’ unique blend of unimpeachable logic and acidic invectives. Hitchens made a name for himself in particular by viciously decrying Henry Kissinger, who he argued (not without cause) was a power-worshiping war criminal…

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America Wants Dead Soldiers

Dead or silent- exactly which doesn’t seem to matter much. And for the vast majority of us, that statement’s going to sound absurd, perhaps even offensive. After all, this isn’t the tail end of Vietnam. Returning servicemen aren’t being spat on.

Unless you count Bowe Bergdahl.

In June of 2009, Sergeant Bergdahl was captured by Taliban forces after he disappeared from his base. He spent the past five years as a prisoner, repeatedly tortured and used for Taliban propaganda. After a prisoner exchange was made on May 31st of this year, Sergeant Bergdahl returned home at last…

…to a chorus of “coward!”, “deserter!”, and “traitor!”

Who needs “innocent until proven guilty?”

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Let’s Talk About The Hijab

We make no pretension of being unbiased here at the CWR. We have our particular axes to grind and banners to wave. Evan, you’ll notice, often covers the place of Asians in culture- in no small part because Evan is a combo of a few Asian peoples himself, and more directly affected by that issue. I, alternatively, grew up in the Middle East, and after having spent pretty much the entirety of my life with Arabs and Muslims (not the same thing, shouldn’t have to explain that), I’m more sensitive to Middle Eastern issues- Islamophobia in particular.

I could spend all day railing on the treatment of the Middle East/Arabs/Occupied Palestine/Muslims/etc. The way Arabs/Muslims are singled out for scrutiny and criticism. Casting Indian actors to play Arabs, since Arabs don’t match their own stereotype. The lack of appreciation for the key role the Middle East played in preserving and advancing science and philosophy.

You get the idea.

So rather than trying to tackle a single issue that could be (should be, and has been) covered by an entire academic book, I’m going to hit up super-specific issue.

The hijab. Continue reading

Fame Day: Massoud Hassani

Anyone know what this alien-looking device is?

Any guesses?

That right there is the “Mine Kafon,” an ingenious device used to safely blow up land mines. Light enough to be blown around by the wind, the Mine Kafon is still heavy enough to touch off detonation when it comes into contact with a mine or pressure-activated explosive. While there’s some skill that goes into getting the weight right, the real beauty of it is it’s simplicity- anyone anywhere in the world could mass produce these. Definitely a blessing for areas emerging or dealing with long periods of conflict and militarization. Continue reading

No War, No More

The past week has seen a dramatic increase in tension in the Korean Peninsula as hostile rhetoric continues to issue from both sides of the DMZ. In the west, reactions have been mixed, with the media alternatively portraying the situation as being on par with the Cuban Missile Crisis and simultaneously pointing out the primitiveness of North Korea’s military.

For the most part it seems the average American’s mood to all this is one of bravado. I can’t count the number of comments and pictures I’ve seen over the past few days declaring what will happen “If North Korea attacks.”

Things like this:

Titled “What I imagine America will do when North Korea sends a missile to South Korea”

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You Are Not The Flag You Wave, Or “Enough with the Equal Signs for Profile Pics”

Yesterday, I saw a picture of Kabul, taken in what must have been the late 70s or early 80s. It was either in or near a university- I recall there being a stone courtyard with tall, shady trees and an ornate water fountain. There were also a couple of young women, wearing short sleeves and pants, carrying their books. The comment section for this picture was awash with sighs about “how beautiful Afghanistan had been” once upon a time and “what a shame it was that religion had come along and messed it all up!”

I was, needless to say, a little ticked off by the responses to the picture. While there were a few people who managed to point out that Islam didn’t one day appear in Afghanistan and wipe out every last vestige of modernism (and that a major Soviet invasion may have played a part as well), for the most part it was all comments on the terrible threat to civilization religion plays. Continue reading