Lynsey Addario on the New Female Face of Afghanistan | LightBox |

Lynsey Addario traveled to Afghanistan ahead of upcoming presidential elections, where the first female governor in the country, Habiba Sarabi, is now the first woman running for vice-president.


Yesterday, shilling for corporations. Today, shilling for illegal military occupations. Forever, ignorant and illiterate photojournalists at the forefront of the use of faux-humanist discourse to veil real military invasions, occupations, and all its associated military violence, civic destruction, institutional corruption, systemic entrenchment of rapists, mass murderers, gang leaders, crooks, drug barons, money laundering masters, and corrupt politicians.

It was only yesterday that Marnia Marzen in her book The Eloquence of Silence was reminding us that

“Perhaps the most spectacular example of the colonial appropriation of women’s voices, and the silencing of those among them who had begun to take women revolutionaries . . . as role models by not donning the veil, was the event of May 16, 1958 [just four years before Algeria finally gained its independence from France after a long bloody struggle and 130 years of French control—L,A.], On that day a demonstration was organized by rebellious French generals in Algiers to show their determination to keep Algeria French, To give the government of France evidence that Algerians were in agreement with them, generals had a few thousand native men bused in from nearby villages, along with a few women who were solemnly unveiled by French women. .. Rounding up Algerians and bringing them to demonstrations of loyalty to France was not in itself an unusual act during the colonial era, But to unveil women at a well-choreographed ceremony added to the event a symbolic dimension that dramatized the one constant feature of the Algerian occupation by France: its obsession with women. [Lazreg 1994:135, See Lughud, Do Muslim Women Need Saving]”

The old colonial obsession with using women to veil its crass economic, political and military interests has a long pedigree. The brown woman has always to be saved from brown men. Addario becomes part of a fake narrative that suggests that the condition of the women of Afghanistan i- associated with burqas and isolation – is a result because of the Taliban. It ignores politics, history, and social / communal reactionaries to decades of violence and brutality both from foreign and domestic actors. It ignores other possibilities and of course any and all agency of the Afghani woman herself. It also ignores the mass brutality faced by all Afghanis under the Taliban regime for example, including so many of the very Pushtuns that this imperial adventure has labelled as ‘Taliban’ for the simply act of their resistance to the American occupation. And yes, it is an occupation, and it is a resistance. you don’t have to like it, or its content, but you don’t have to pretend that it is ‘terrorism’ or merely a theological campaign.

These fake narratives of new Afghani democracy, of elections are part and parcel of the enterprise of war and occupation – the ‘packaging’ of liberal discourse into the public theatre of vote gathering and giving. Power, defined as always by politics behind the scene, remains elsewhere. The women however continue to play their continuing silent role as actors on the imperial stage, expected to offer their grateful bodies for the use of the Western liberal’s imagination and then to move on. Addario igores RAWA – a women’s rights organization that was once the toast of the town in the USA, but since their vociferous criticism of the American occupation, the murderers and criminals in government, seem to have lost their ability to attend dinner parties at the Asia Society and other platforms of liberal thought.

The poor women of Afghanistan. Addario plays the role of the useful idiot, offering nonsensical, out-dated and fraudulent images and content, veiling propaganda exercises into real events, feeding the war machine the images of humanity that it desperately needs to justify the brutalities it has inflicted and knows will need to continue to inflict to keep the people of the country’ in line. Iraq offers us the lesson, but of course, there is no one photographing there for the moment

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