Posted by: Christian | February 27, 2007

How the Hippies destroyed Afghanistan

February 27, 2007.

OK, maybe the title of this post is a little bit of an exaggeration. However, one author, Martin Ewans, argues that the Taliban were motivated partially by a strong disdain for the morals of the west, and that the foundations of this disdain may be traced back to the hippie tourists who passed through Afghanistan in the 1960s and 1970s. The Afghans showed these hippies their trademark pre-conflict hospitality and the hippies, for their part, smoked a lot of dope and did unmentionable things with each other in public. Ewans dedicates less than a page to the issue that can be summed up by this passage:

“…Afghans were deeply shocked at the visitors’ nihilism and irresponsibility, as well as at the loose morals that many of them, and women in particular, displayed. Their conclusion was that if this was how Westerners behaved, Afghanistan wanted no part of it.”

Martin Ewans is no sociologist or anthropologist (in fact he is a former diplomat) and he is not a fan of footnotes or citing sources, so you can take what he says with a grain of salt. However, this does raise this issue of Afghans’ perception of western morals. Personally, I doubt that the Euro-Americano-hippies’ reputation for unspeakable debauchery traveled far from Kabul. And around this time western films and magazines were surely making their way to this part of the world, adding another variable to destroy the reputation of western morals in the eyes of Afghans.

What of the current effect of western pop-culture? Well, Hollywood and other entertainment entities do a good job of portraying Americans and Europeans as grossly sexually promiscuous, nihilistic, violent, greedy, etc… While some educated Afghans may be aware that there is a debate in the west over the perversion of reality that the entertainment industry serves up, I’m sure many Afghans imagine American and Europeans cavorting sexually with random strangers whenever they feel like it. I doubt most Afghans are aware that many in the west, from religious conservatives to feminists, debate the effect of what is statistically proven to be a gross distortion of what actually happens in society, from the advertising industry’s shameful sexualization of ever-younger girls to the violent, nihilistic and narcissistic paradise that is Hollywood.

At this point, it goes beyond the risqué wall poster of whatever starlet is displaying her assets for profit at the moment. Now a young Afghan man can go buy a cheap pirated porno DVD down at the bazaar and see exactly what Christian men do with their women. The result will likely be disgust…………and jealousy. Time to go out for Chinese food, if you know what I mean.

Note: You can find almost one page (pg 269-70) dedicated to hippies in Martin Ewans book “Afghanistan: A Short History of Its People and Politics” (Perrenial, 2002). I’m sure if you dig elsewhere you can find other references to the “hippie trail” that went from Turkey to India, wreaking havoc with the west’s reputation along the way.


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