IT WAS LIKE A DREAM
Awakening, basically, is a reversal of this: the patient ceases to feel the presence of illness and the absence of the world, and comes to feel the absence of his illness and the full presence of the world.
-Oliver Sacks, "Awakenings"
Before the Taliban's victory in Afghanistan, there were: 248 TV Networks, 438 Radio Stations, 1669 Print Outlets, and 119 News Agencies throughout the country. A mass media renaissance, rural and urban. Women reporters. Women with microphones and notebooks in their hands. Men and women working together to get the story.
Disregard the public relations gambit as Kabul fell; the veil has dropped again in Afghanistan. Women are walking around in burqas and men are growing beards to protect themselves from abuse, and worse. And there is much transpiring in other cities and the countryside that is not being reported.
According to Reporters Without Borders (RWB), the new government, or re-instated government, depending on one's politics and point-of-view, is already imposing harsh constraints on the news media (100 outlets have suspended operation entirely), harassing reporters, and threatening them.
"Two journalists working for the privately-owned TV channel Shamshad were prevented by a Taliban guard from doing a report outside the French embassy because they lacked a permit signed by the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan," says an RWB press release. "But when they asked the guard where they should go or who they should ask for such a permit, he said, "I don't know."
As of today, foreign correspondents are still able to work, but they are all asking, "For how much longer?" And they are few in number so cannot report everything.
When the international news cycle tires of the chaotic and mis-managed American withdrawal, ordinary citizens will still be trying to survive in Afghanistan. But they will have no information or news to guide them that is not tainted by Sharia dictates of "good" and "evil."
Any nation-state that slips back into fundamentalist feudalism, or reignites a former despotic regime, threatens global equilibrium. War, the degradation of the environment, migration. and yet more terrorism, will continually challenge our well-being and safety; disequilibrium will reach our shores. Sitting comfortably in our western enclaves is an illusion; we are not protected from the repercussions of what has transpired in Afghanistan. We cannot just change the channel and hope for the best. A smart, humane foreign policy is essential going forward; no sitting president gets a pass.
I still have reporter friends and aid worker friends in Afghanistan. For this reason, I have not mentioned anyone by name here, or interviewed anyone I could mention by name, though the reporting I have done to write this blog post has been corroborated. I urge my readers to continue monitoring the unfolding Afghanistan story, and to offer help to the refugees seeking asylum.