Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Going Native

CBS reports on a unique "dress up" program in Afghanistan:
Jim Crawford may not look like it, but he's a U.S. Army major, and part of a program called Afghan Hands, designed to mentor government officials to break down barriers. He wears local clothing and a full beard like most Afghan men.
When we visited Kandahar earlier this month, Crawford was anxious to introduce us to the city's mayor: Ghulam Haider Hamidi.
Good thing they got a chance to visit him back then, because as of this morning, Hamidi is toast. (He was blown up by jihadis in incendiary hats.)

To try to get in on the "Afghan Hands" fun, the CBS gal reporter had a go at playing dress up:
We went for a walking tour of Kandahar's markets, Crawford advised I'd be safer wearing a burkha. Crawford said he is finally used to wearing local clothing.
Although the outfits helped for a while, eventually a crowd began hurling stones at Crawford and the CBS News team in the market.
It can be a painful process, but working through cultural misunderstandings is part of the job. In this case, the crowd may have mistaken a female foreign news correspondent for an Afghan woman walking with foreign men. This is a very conservative, segregated society."
No kidding. But it's hard to see how U.S. military personnel dressing up like the locals is likely to change that.

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