Sunday, November 1, 2009

Afghan Star And The Case For Staying

I love music. I love it so much that it has made me snobbish about the subject no matter how much I try not to be. To me, there are two categories of music - that which is created out of passion and the other created for the sake of vanity or the need for attention. Though the lines are often blurred, it's hard for me to feel anything but contempt for the latter.

The TV show American Idol is an easy target for my contempt, not necessarily because of the contestants but, rather, the panel of music industry insiders who judge what is and what isn't music based on what is marketable.

Exporting the American Idol formula overseas would seem nauseating. But, in Afghanistan, where the ruling Taliban has banned music, the concept takes on a whole new meaning.

Afghan Star is Afghanistan's version of American Idol, but whereas the biggest concern on American Idol is whether or not you will make it to the next round or go home, contestants on Afghan Star are literally risking their lives just to sing. This desire to sing in the face of death transcends everything American Idol stands for and speaks volumes to the human spirit in the face of oppression. That's the power of music.

Afghan Star is possible because the U.S. military has told Afghan citizens to go about their lives without fearing the Taliban. Sing. Dance. Go to school. Be free. Yet the debate continues on whether or not to stay in Afghanistan. Imagine the repercussions for those we have promised to protect once we leave. To those who say "that's not our problem," it is our problem because we chose to make it our problem. And if we betray the Afghan people by leaving, what will happen when another terrorist attack happens on U.S. soil by insurgents in Afghanistan? Round 2 of winning the hearts and minds of the Afghan people will be impossible.

There are no simple solutions for the war in Afghanistan, but the consequences of leaving, I honestly believe, will be disastrous.

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