Sunday, May 20, 2012

I Spy a Kafir and I Dread Him/Think That I Shall Go Behead Him

No, that is not one of the poems in Poetry of the Taliban. But the thought it expresses does indeed show up in that book--over and over again.  Here's part of a mini-review that appeared in the Times Literary Supplement (I quote from the hard copy I borrowed from my local library):
It might seen too subtle a point of literary criticism to be worth making, but the problem with Taliban poetry is that it exhibits little development. Once you've read, for the first time, "We are the soldiers of Islam and we are happy to be martyred; / We are the men of the battlefied and we fight on the front lines", it lifts the warrior spirit scarcely a jot to have it repeated. No doubt it is unwelcome for the occupants of jeeps bumping past shady bystanders to know that "We are happy when we are martyred for our extreme zeal and honour: / That is the reason we strap bombs around our waists', but it is beyond the scope of imagination to conceive of any profit from reading it as verse...
The editors of Poetry of the Taliban, Alex Strick van Linshoten and Felix Kuehn, believe that the poems "allow the reader to appreciate...the Taliban as "human beings" and "prompt us to rethink our assumptions about [the] movement". But no matter how complex your views on the intractable conflict, the battle cries of Mullah Mohammad Omar will not resolve them. The editors relate how, in these circles, "passing the time, someone will inevitably pull out a mobile phone and show you the latest video of a Taliban attack or of a beheading", set to a soundtrack of a sung poem.
Yeah, they're regular Henry Wadsworth Longfellows (if HWL had been a murderous jihadi in the grip of 7th Century thinking who had all the latest technological doodads). And those editors who think repeated utterances of the desire for martyrdom somehow "humanizes" these blood-loving creeps--they're bananas.

Update: The Ayatollah Khomeini was a "poet," too.

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