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H-ASIA ***************************************************************** From: T.Matthew Ciolek <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Bamiyan Buddhas and Cultural Frames of Mind Pei-Yi Wu <email@example.com> wrote ( Sat, 24 Mar 2001) with regard to Taliban's destruction of Bamiyan Buddhas: >I was very saddened by the destruction. When I went to Bamiyan in 1971 I >thought that if I lived long enough I would pay another visit to the great >statues. The only silver lining is to be found in the (almost) universal >outrage expressed by the civilized world. What a contrast to the muted >response when the Red Guards, unleashed by Chairman Mao, were ravaging >libraries, temples, private collections of art works, books and >documents, and even cemeteries. Yes, the contrast is absolutely stark. However, one needs to be mindful here of the operation of the time-honoured Western cultural tradition. Scholars brought up within the European/N American/Australian frame of mind, never find it easy to comment negatively on events if they transpire in a country which is (a) communist; or (b) armed with nuclear weapons; or (c) major trading partner with the West. This necessarily means that if all three conditions coincide, we are culturally predisposed - nay, obliged - to find examples of human rights abuses, inhuman labour conditions, famines, massacres, concentration camps, environmental pollution, invasion of neighbouring territories or deliberate destruction of cultural and historical treasures - to be the country's "internal affair", one which does not warrant any international outrage or discusssion. Fortunately, with Afghanistan, it is much easier to see the things for what they really are. It is a badly impoverished non-communist country, it has about 22 mln people, and it only has access to conventional weapons. Therefore, Afghanistan offers - at present (i.e. one day it may acquire a nuke or two, or turn communist again) - no real obstacles to the free exercise of our humanistic feelings and objective reasoning. - with bows and regards - - Dr T. Matthew CIOLEK firstname.lastname@example.org Head, Internet Publications Bureau, RSPAS, The Australian National University, Canberra +61 2 6125 0110 fax: +61 2 6125 1893 http://www.ciolek.com/PEOPLE/ciolek-tm.html ================================================================= To post to H-ASIA simply send your message to: <H-ASIA@h-net.msu.edu> For holidays or short absences send post to: <email@example.com> with message: SET H-ASIA NOMAIL Upon return, send post with message SET H-ASIA MAIL H-ASIA WEB HOMEPAGE URL: http://h-net.msu.edu/~asia/