Without Peace Art Just Isn’t

The Bamiyan Buddha before the Taliban destruction

The Bamiyan Buddha before the Taliban destruction

The day Bamiyan in Hazarajat, Afghanistan got bombed, was pretty much the day I stopped defending the benefits of a general liberal arts education. I understood that a seemingly educated American Art History professor could also lose judgement of what matters most in life.

When Prof. Katie Ryor stormed in with pink cheeks and teary eyes I didn’t expect her to declare the end of the world. That was the day that most American hippie kids, half stoned, realized that America was at war with Afghanistan. Or maybe not. There is still a war there, and who knows how many of them remember Bamiyan?

To this day I wonder if I was the only one in the class who could point out that for decades the American government had funded the Mujahaddeen, followed by the Taliban against the Communists late into the 80s. More importantly, the bombing of the Bamiyan Buddha wasn’t just about attacking art work, nor was it about anti-Buddhist sentiment. (Very few Buddhists live in Afghanistan today as far as I know).

Hazara victim from Taliban attacks

Hazara victim from Taliban attacks

The point was war is destructive, unethical, pointless. Hundreds of villagers were shot to death or scorched alive in their homes during the Bamiyan campaign because they were Shia Muslims of the Hazara ethnic group. This went unmentioned in the class-granted a side-point to our topic at hand.

The focus was Art [that was lost], because that was an art class on Buddhist Art History for “diversity credit”. And we were mourning the Bamiyan Buddha with an unwarranted academic monologue.

I left that class without saying a word, maybe because it was an Art class with no room for politics, or because the majority were just college kids with limited perspective, or maybe I would’ve just said angry things that wouldn’t help my cause. But to this day I wonder if the prof could’ve turned that monologue into a constructive discussion on how “wars get in the way of artistic creativity”- in addition to destroying life in the present and killing hope for the future. I’m sure that history is filled with statistics that prove a relationship between long lasting art and duration of peace.

Otherwise why do we get so much coverage of death rather than architecture in Afghanistan?


~ by tinsmithink on October 21, 2009.

One Response to “Without Peace Art Just Isn’t”

  1. […] I comment on Petek’s post […]

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