The bishop and reality

Poor bishop. He may have just meant something like ‘Take the Taliban seriously,’ but he said more than that.

There’s a large number of things that the Taliban say and stand for which none of us in the west could approve, but simply to say therefore that everything they do is bad is not helping the situation because it’s not honest really. The Taliban can perhaps be admired for their conviction to their faith and their sense of loyalty to each other.”

Yes but…pretty much everything they do that is relevant to this discussion is bad. They probably manage to sleep and scratch itches in ways that are not bad, but their public activities are bad. They do bad things. They treat people badly. Life under them is harsh and deprived and subject to violence.

And they cannot and should not be admired for their conviction to their faith, because their faith is narrow and cruel and misogynist, and because it motivates them to treat people like so much dust for a god to sweep. They cannot and should not be admired for their loyalty to each other because that is simply the obverse of their muderous hatred of everyone else. It’s slightly bizarre to see a bishop failing to understand this – it seems so obvious and elementary and essential to understand.

“To blanket them all as evil and paint them as black is not helpful in a very complex situation.” Bishop Venner said that everyone in Afghanistan, including the Taliban, would have to be included in discussions to find a solution to the conflict. “Afghanistan is going we hope in the end to find a way to live together with justice and prosperity for all. In order to do that we have to involve all the people of Afghanistan to find it.”

Yes, we hope, but if the Taliban are part of that, ‘justice’ will be ruled out, so pious hopes are worth nothing. Maybe some or many or most current Taliban can be turned, can become reasonable and fair and peaceable – but they have to be turned. A Taliban that remains the Taliban is not going to lead to a way to live together with justice and prosperity for all. That would be like (as many people have been telling the bishop) like expecting Nazis to do that. It’s not a question of painting people as black, it’s a question of understanding what a particular ideology is. An ideology that is centrally about coercion and bullying and death-for-the-noncompliant isn’t one that is going to become its own opposite merely because the bombing stops.

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