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Taliban as alternative lifestyle

By Bernard Chapin
web posted February 17, 2003

Allan Ginsberg famously stated that even if the radicals of the 1960's couldn't sway the majority of the population they would win in the end by "getting our children." Sadly, the youth of today are proving him correct. While teaching a class to prospective elementary school teachers at a Chicago university one recent Saturday I intervened in a discussion between two students concerning whether citizenship should be taught in the schools. I agreed with one of the students that the United States offered many advantages to its citizens and that we were lucky to live in a place with such inexpensive goods and services. Moments later several members of the class reacted to my statement with outrage. They told me that it was impossible to say that our country was better than other countries but did not give a reason as to why. I then put the words "multiculturalism, diversity and tolerance" on the board as I know it happens to be the mantra of 21st century schooling. They nodded their heads in agreement but a trap had been set. I followed up the mantra on the board (our culture's version of liberty, equality, brotherhood) with the statement "unless one happens to be living under the Taliban and then, obviously, America is vastly superior."

Yet it was they who set the trap for me. They responded with "yes, no matter what country or government it is we cannot judge them. The fact is that all cultures have good and bad points etcetera, etcetera." If I were a person who blushes I would have turned magenta. I did not speak for a few moments as I tried to compose myself (my naivete still embarrasses me). The mention of the Taliban was purely a straw man argument. I thought it would have brought the type of clarity that only men who outlaw shaving and eliminate homosexuals by having buildings collapse upon them can bring.

I was completely wrong. I should have replaced the reference to the former Afghan government with a reference to the Third Reich instead. The word "Taliban" presupposes a level of knowledge that is antithetical to living in a self-absorbed, narcissistic, fog since September of 2001. No, next time I'll use the word "Nazis" alone as it so often used in our universities to describe those who still think liberty should rank with tolerance and diversity. I then asked what part of the Taliban's government might be superior to our own. Several people spoke at once but no one answered my question. They repeated the fact that we could not possibly judge another land. I then expounded on the marriage certificates (read "rape documents"), laws against music, VCRs, laws against wearing shorts, home prayer, legalized murder, and the peculiar notion that Pakistan was a wild and wooly place to live. Alas, it was to no avail. As the class was dismissed one of them said to me "you had no idea what a can of worms you were going to open" and she was right.

Early graduation from a once traditional school allowed me to make a lucky escape from the indoctrination that occurs at today's universities. The devotees can be found on television, in the work place or in the street spouting the words of their creed. Phrases such as "I'm really open. I'll try anything once. I don't judge anyone" readily identify the products of post-modernist chic. Sometimes there is epiphany in their expressions when one argues that not judging people's behavior allows for evil acts like pedophilia, which is now known by the non-offensive moniker of "intergenerational relationships." For now, pedophilia still offends but for how long? Love President Bush or hate him, at least his 2002 State of the Union Address did our country a favor by beginning a dialogue concerning whether evil exists on this planet at all. Sadly for our nation however, the teachers who sit before me in class will be on the "how can we, with our own biases determine who is evil or even if there is such a thing" side of the debate, and, like Ginsberg, we can be confident that they'll try to get our children.

This is Bernard Chapin's first contribution to Enter Stage Right.

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