Friday, November 25, 2011

Simply Don’t Get It or Too Much Political Correctness?

Normally I only do one post a week, but the Politico (a source I never heard of before and cannot vouch for their political leanings or view) 11/23/11 article “Cross removed at base in Afghanistan” (see struck me as something worth covering.

As shown in the photo (from the same source), apparently there was a very large cross on the outside of the chapel at Camp Marmal. A Facebook page about the camp quotes Wikipedia “Camp Marmal is the largest base of the Bundeswehr outside of Germany. It is located outside of Mazar-e Sharif, Afghanistan, at the foot of the Hindu Kush mountains. The camp was opened in September 2005. The camp gets its name from the bordering Marmal Mountains.”

The article was picked up by UPI and probably some others. According to the article the cross was taken down because it violated DOD rules.

As I recall one of the senior generals in Afghanistan, perhaps General McChrystal was instrumental in removing signs that the American force were ‘distinctly American” and alluded to the fact that ISAF was going to be there for a while.

Should the base CDR, be they American, German or any other NATO nation have permitted the cross in the first place? Does a large religious symbol of a Western religion offend Afghanis? What would the effect have been if there was a Star of David or a Wiccan Symbol?

Does the feeling of comfort to Christian soldiers (as quoted in the article) outweigh the likely negative perception of the Afghans?

I’ll leave it to you. If you have one, enjoy the long Holiday weekend.

1 comment:

Voodoo said...

Yet another example of the military clinging to extremely simplified understandings of culture.

Afghans, even the rural and most uneducated, understand that ISAF is multi faceted in its religious composition. Polling of the people makes it clear that they don't believe we are there as crusaders, or that we are trying to convert them to Christianity.

In fact, they find denial of faith far more offensive than existence of faith.

We assume the average Afghan subscribes to the radical Taliban theology, so we try to shape our actions and expressions according to that patently un-Islamic interpretation, which only serves to give credence to their arguments.

This reminds me of a moment when a very, very, very high ranking British infantry officer was lecturing me on the cultural and religious norms and mores of my AO.

Not only had I been working there for several months, spending every day with the local population, but my father was born just a few hundred miles away from where I was. The sheer hubris astounded me.