KAIA, the airport where I spent many happy days, was just attacked. Story below
Afghanistan Without a Clue (AWAC) was created in August 2006 to chronicle my adventures on a one-year tour in Afghanistan. In February of 2007 fellow military members started contributing, and it became a massive job producing daily posts. Most of us returned home in May 07. I will keep AWAC running to provide information for folks deploying to Afghanistan, as well as for new readers who recently discovered the joys of the AWAC world. I’ll post occasionally so the old-timers can keep tabs on my adjustment to life in the states, as well as any news I receive from Kabul. If you are new to AWAC, the best thing is to start from the beginning. Just wander over to the archives (they are over there to the left) and enjoy. Be warned, there is a huge amount of stuff over there, and rumor has it that people have become addicted. I can only hope.
Capt Doug “Bear” Traversa (me), USAF, editor and ringmaster
Capt Doug “Rat” Templeton, USAF, my hut mate and regular contributor
Maj Steve “Odie” Odum, USAF, contributor
Capt Mike Toomer, USAF, another hut mate and contributor
Capt Drew Morton, USAF, another hut mate and contributor
1st Lt Dany Barcan, Romanian Army, fellow soccer player and contributor
SSG Carrie Sawyer, US Army, contributor
Maj John Rogers, USAF, contributing photographer
Hamid, Han, and Wali, CMA interpreters
Camp Phoenix, Kabul, Afghanistan, home for most of us
Central Movement Agency (CMA) - Afghan Army transportation base where I worked
Logistics Command - Afghan Army base where Rat, Mike, and Drew worked
ANA - Afghan National Army
KAIA - Kabul Afghanistan International Airport
We passed 66666 hits this week. Sounds ominous, doesn’t it?
Persecution is a funny thing. I’ve discovered that the vast majority of people think they are either being persecuted or in danger of becoming a persecuted minority. Those of you who have been reading for a while know I spent many years in Conservative Christian (CC) circles. A vast majority of CCs believed that our government was dominated by secular humanists who wanted nothing more than to reduce Christianity to a quaint hobby, with the modern-day relevance of horse buggies. Both in schools and churches I heard over and over again the dangers of both our government and liberal religions, who were working hand-in-hand to marginalize our faith, if not destroy it completely. The concern, if not outright fear, was ever-present. These were the days of the Moral Majority, as Christians fought to get more involved in government. Yet even with the sweeping wins of Ronald Reagan and a large number of Republicans, there was a continual frustration with the make-up of the Supreme Court. The fact that abortions were not outlawed, and prayer restored to schools, continued to prove that Satan was still powerful.
Flash forward to 2007. Having been exposed to the other side, that of the scientists and skeptics, I find exactly the same thing going on. Scientists just shake their heads and fear that superstition will end up dominating our culture. They can’t believe that anyone seriously thinks the world is only thousands of years old, or that there was a literal Noah’s Ark and a world-wide flood. Obsessions with alien abductions, ghosts, magic, and an endless stream of pseudo science frustrates them no end. Liberals fear a conservative Supreme Court will turn our country into a theocracy, or at least give religion a major say in how our government is conducted. Their concerns are remarkably similar to those of the Conservatives. I get the feeling everyone is afraid.
And lest you think I am overstating the case, let me give you a very real, very current example. The last two weeks Jancy and I went to a Unitarian Universalist (UU) Church. UUs are a very unusual group, and not what you would normally think of when you think of a church. They don’t try to convert you to a way of thinking. They don’t have a creed or statement of faith. They welcome anyone who seeks truth, and they believe that truth can be found in many different ways. So here you have a church where atheists, agnostics, pagans, Hindus, Christians, Jews, Muslims, and anyone else who wants to come in are welcome. At this church, the speaker gives a talk (as opposed to a sermon), then we break for coffee, and then return to the circle for a discussion. It’s all pretty innocuous, though the ideas presented would certainly not find the conventional Christian mode. I enjoyed my first two visits, and this week I’ll be speaking on Islam.
So what does all this have to do with persecution? Many in this small group of about 30 people have a very genuine fear that if they told their co-workers what they really believed, or where they went to church, they would be blackballed. Some fear they would lose customers, or lose a chance at promotion. Why? Because we are in the rural south, where most people at least profess to be Christian. Whether their fears are well founded or not, I can’t say. But the fear is very real. I have to admit, this took me aback. I shouldn’t be surprised, since both Jancy and my son Ryan have said this was true. Ryan has told me several times that girls would not date him, simply because he was not a Christian (though not surprising, as this is standard CC thinking). Because he makes no secret of the fact that he is not a Christian, he says that he does get treated differently by some, and it does make it harder at school. But I am proud of him for not being afraid to state his beliefs and stick to them. Sad to know that in our land founded on freedom of religion, sticking to your beliefs can lead to such problems.
But on the bright side, at least we don’t live in Afghanistan (or any Muslim country), where such beliefs will get you executed. As I’ve said before, many times, there is no freedom of religion, indeed, no freedom of thought, in Afghanistan. In fact, the very concept of freedom of religion makes no sense to many Afghans. As Hamid would say, why would anyone want to leave Islam, since it is a perfect religion?
So what’s my point? We need to avoid a tyranny of the majority, whether that majority be Christian, Muslim, or Secular. Freedom of thought, without fear of reprisal, should be a permanent foundation of our country. Whenever a group wishes to impose their beliefs on others, whether it be a theocracy like Iran or a secular dictatorship like the Soviet Union, nothing good comes of it. All Americans should be more afraid of what happens if their group does gain total power, instead of fearing what happens if they don’t.
News from Afghanistan:
KAIA, the airport where I worked for several months, was attacked by a suicide bomber. Here’s the article from CBS news, and the link. I spoke with Belgian guards every day that I worked at KAIA. This story hits close to home again.
(AP) A suicide bomber in a car targeting a patrol of German soldiers blew himself up outside the gates of the Afghan capital's airport Friday, killing an Afghan soldier and wounding four Belgian troops, officials and witnesses said.
The blast missed its intended target and tore into a group of Afghan soldiers waiting at a checkpoint outside the military wing of Kabul International airport, witnesses said.
The German Defense Ministry said that the blast damaged two of their vehicles, but that no German troops were hurt.
Belgian Defense Minister Andre Flahaut said four Belgian soldiers were slightly wounded in the attack, with one suffering minor burns. Others suffered hearing damage.
Some 300 Belgian soldiers, serving with NATO's International Security Assistance Force, are in charge of security at Kabul's airport.
"A car drove fast and blew up next to a crowd of people, including Afghan National Army soldiers," said Mansur, a witness who only gave a single name. "A lot of people were left laying on the ground."
Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi, a Defense Ministry spokesman, said at least one Afghan solider was killed and two others were wounded in the attack - the latest in a wave of insurgent-led violence in the country.
Other officials at the scene said one soldier was killed and at least six others, including two civilians, were wounded.
Ambulances ferried the wounded to a hospital, while NATO and Afghan troops secured the area. Debris from the car was widely scattered.
An Afghan noncommissioned officer said the bomber tried to ram a convoy of cars carrying foreigners. Instead, most of those hit were members of Afghan National Army, on their way for training in Italy, he said.
"All the shrapnel came toward us," said the soldier, who also declined to give his name.
Another soldier walked away from the scene holding a pair of bloodied boots and two green berets worn by Afghan National Army members.
Tiny, the Pomeranian we are fostering, is now in the critical stage of his heartworm treatment. The worms are all dead, and slowly decomposing inside his body. He has significant heart congestion right now due to this, so we have to keep him quiet and resting. Tiny has decided that he must be with me at all times, so if I ever leave a room his is sleeping in, he wakes up and starts barking until he find me. He can’t climb stairs, so I’ve gotten into the habit of picking him up and taking him up and down the stairs with me, otherwise he sits at the bottom and barks. Yes, he has me trained well. And no, telling him to shut up doesn’t work.
Another exhausting day for Tiny
Two more blogs have linked to AWAC, and I’m happy to return the favor. Funny how things just keep growing:
Mail Call! Supporting the Troops