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Author Topic: Enjoyable article about our Taliban friend at Yale
philnotfil
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I keep on hearing these outraged columnists, commentators, and radio personalities complain about Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi being a student at Yale. He is the former spokesperson for the Taliban and appears in Michaels Moore's pile of... , sorry, Michael Moore's Farenheit 9/11.

This disturbs me. Why are so many people so angry that this young man is getting a chance to do something with his life? Why are they treating him like a stereotype instead of a person?

I read a great article in the NYTimes about him before hearing all of the hate and was really blown away hearing the things that are being said about him after hearing more about him as a person.

NYTimes

quote:
In the fall of 1994, a group of mullahs and madrassa students emerged in the Kandahar region as yet another of the seemingly numberless factions vying for control of Afghanistan. They were called the Taliban; they were led by an obscure one-eyed mullah and veteran jihadi who knew little about the world beyond his village. On Nov. 5, they captured the city of Kandahar, the spiritual center of the Pashtuns. Within months, they took control of roughly one-third of Afghanistan's provinces and pacified a large swath of a nation that had been convulsed by violence for nearly two decades. To one young Afghan exile, following the news from Quetta on BBC radio broadcasts, the Taliban looked like the saviors of his homeland; like thousands of other Afghan refugees hungry for a future in their own country, he was eager to be one of them.
quote:
"I went with my father to see Kandahar and our village," he recalled in the late-afternoon hush of the Commons dining hall. "The reason why the Taliban were so successful at first was they were seen as the ultimate good guys. They stabilized the country. The areas they controlled were unique for peace and security. I said to my father, 'I really want to join them."' Four months later, Rahmatullah visited a Taliban office in Kandahar. Discouraged from military service by his parents, he offered his skills as a computer operator highly proficient in English. He was turned away: "They said I was too young." But his father had some contacts in the Taliban, and when Rahmatullah reapplied in September, adding a couple of years to his age, he was accepted. There was hardly any paperwork and no membership card. What signaled his new status was an expensive black turban bought for him by his father.
quote:
He follows the news from Afghanistan every day — increasingly dismayed, as are many, by the return of the warlords, the rise of opium trafficking, the lawlessness and violence that have plagued his country all his life. Would things be better if the Taliban were still in power?

"Economically, no. In terms of security, yes. In terms of general happiness, no. In the long-term interests of the country? I don't think so. I think the radicals were taking over and doing crazy stuff. I regret when people think of the Taliban and then think of me — that feeling people have after they know I was affiliated with them is painful to me. When I read that the neo-Taliban are burning girls' schools, I am ashamed."

Many distinctions could be drawn between his old life and his life at Yale. But he had seized on one.

"You have to be reasonable to live in America," he said. "Everything here is based on reason. Even the essays you write for class. Back home you have to talk about religion and culture, and you can win any argument if you bring up the Islamic argument. You can't reason against religion. But you cannot change Afghanistan overnight. You can't bring the Enlightenment overnight."


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Pete at Home
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Never heard of him. If you want to find out why some people are so mad about him, then you'll probably have broaden your source base. Interesting story, though. Please keep us posted.
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IrishTD
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There have been several columns posted at opinionjournal.com written by John Fund that have dealt with this topic.
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Digger
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quote:
Why are so many people so angry that this young man is getting a chance to do something with his life?
From what I've read on the topic (mostly the opinionjournal.com articles referenced by IrishTD), the young man in question appears unrepentant, or at least ambivalent, about his activities with the Taliban. Yale has apparently stonewalled any questions about their admission policies regarding this person as well, which I don't find encouraging.
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DonaldD
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What activities were they? Depending on the activities, this might not be pertinent, but do you believe that the Taliban was/is without any merit, and that all members of the group should be tarred equally with the same brush?
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Pete at Home
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The statements in the Times article sound pretty repentant to me, but I'd like to see the other articles Digger referenced. Yale made its position towards the US pretty clear over the years with the antimilitary policies, including their latest Supremely thwarted attempt to sabotage military recruitment of JAGs.
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Digger
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quote:
What activities were they?
Here's the opinionjournal.com articles (in order of appearance):
http://www.opinionjournal.com/diary/?id=110008020

http://www.opinionjournal.com/diary/?id=110008051

http://www.opinionjournal.com/diary/?id=110008082

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philnotfil
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Here are a couple of others:

Yale Daily News

Jim Kouri

Ignoring all of the links to people commenting about John Fund's articles there isn't that much being said aobut this, but there sure are a lot of people commenting on his articles.

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Mormegil
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I hadn't heard about this until yesterday when I read this:

http://greensboro.rhinotimes.com/story.html?id=1271

OSC writes for the Rhino in Greensboro NC and this is an opinion piece by the editor of that paper.

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Eric
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quote:
...do you believe that the Taliban was/is without any merit, and that all members of the group should be tarred equally with the same brush?
Yes. After seeing things like this, absolutely yes.
http://www.rawa.org/zarmeena.htm
http://inhonor.net/videos/uped/fl_video.php?f_num=72500

The Taliban was/is the absolute worst the 21st century has to offer.

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Pelegius
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While I am not a suporter of radical Islam, neither do I suport political discremenation in admissions, even for Talibanistas and neo-Fascists. I assume that the student was, in all other ways, perfectly qualified?
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Eric
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quote:
I assume that the student was, in all other ways, perfectly qualified?
4th grade education, GED.
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Pelegius
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Interesting, but perhaps meaningless, neither Yale nor Harvard nor Oxford require that their students be graduates.
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Eric
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Yeah, but can you see some skinny, white, American kid getting into one of those schools without a H.S. diploma and stratospheric SATs?
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Pelegius
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Probably not, but there are many other factors. If Yale was being cynical, and I do not deny that possibility as much as I wish to be charitable, have they not succeeded in gaining publicity?
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Eric
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quote:
...have they not succeeded in gaining publicity?
Oh, without a doubt. Just maybe not the publicity they'd probably like. I read in one article that there's a campaign among some Yale alumni to withhold donations. Which may not be exactly fair...another article I saw mentioned that Mr. Taliban was enrolled in classes for credit, but not as a full-time student.
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javelin
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quote:
Originally posted by Pelegius:
Interesting, but perhaps meaningless, neither Yale nor Harvard nor Oxford require that their students be graduates.

Huh. Wasn't able to find any information on this quickly on Yale's website, so I called their admissions office. Their answer, when asked "Do you require a high school degree or equivalent for undergraduate admission?" was "Yes."

No qualifiers.

Can you back up your assertion that neither school requires this?

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FuzzyBink
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In CT, where I am from, everyone's childhood dream is to go to Yale. This puts a whole new spin on giving advice to family friends about the college admissions process:

"Well let's see, if you are a legacy, an athelete, a Rockefeller, or a Taliban with a GED, you're set! Otherwise, with only a 1600 , class presidency, and 4.0, you may want to consider other options"

(truthfully, they are a private uni and can do what they please since it just seems like his ideology, and not his actions, is anti-American)

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philnotfil
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quote:
The Taliban was/is the absolute worst the 21st century has to offer.
Most of the people in Afghanistan seem to have felt that the taliban were better than the groups that they replaced.


quote:

quote:Originally posted by Pelegius:
Interesting, but perhaps meaningless, neither Yale nor Harvard nor Oxford require that their students be graduates.

Huh. Wasn't able to find any information on this quickly on Yale's website, so I called their admissions office. Their answer, when asked "Do you require a high school degree or equivalent for undergraduate admission?" was "Yes."

No qualifiers.

Can you back up your assertion that neither school requires this?

With the addition of "or equivalent" there doesn't seem to be any discrepancy.
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javelin
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quote:
Most of the people in Afghanistan seem to have felt that the taliban were better than the groups that they replaced.
Source?

quote:
With the addition of "or equivalent" there doesn't seem to be any discrepancy.
Really? So, a fourth grade education is equivalent, in anyone's book, to a GED? Or a diploma of graduation from high school? I don't think so.
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LetterRip
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javelin,

quote:
Really? So, a fourth grade education is equivalent, in anyone's book, to a GED? Or a diploma of graduation from high school? I don't think so.
A GED is also known as a 'high school equivalency' examination and is accepted as a high school diploma equivalent by most colleges. So yes it is equivalent. Regarding 'a fourth grade education' - Benjamin Franklin also had a fourth grade education. Formal education isn't particularly important as long as you become educated through other means. Regarding Sayed, he is 27 years old, was a translator, and a statesman. Also his acceptance is probationary.

LetterRip

[ March 16, 2006, 03:20 AM: Message edited by: LetterRip ]

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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by philnotfil:
quote:
The Taliban was/is the absolute worst the 21st century has to offer.
Most of the people in Afghanistan seem to have felt that the taliban were better than the groups that they replaced.
Most? Where do you get that stat? Most Pashtuns, maybe.

The folks at Mazar Al Sharif thought that, and inited the Taliban in to rule them, but after, IIRC 16 hours of Taliban rule, decided they'd made a mistake, and drove them back out, and massacred the ones who didn't run fast enough. Talibandits came back and imposed their rule with greater massacres.

The few non-Pashtuns I know of that consented willingly to Taliban rule, did so in areas where there was no alternative rule, not even a warlord; just anarchy, bandits, and recreational rape. With the Taliban at least you know who is raping you.

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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by DonaldD:
do you believe that the Taliban was/is without any merit, and that all members of the group should be tarred equally with the same brush?

I do NOT believe that the all members of the Taliban should be tarred equally with the same brush. But I think that this particular Talibastard is as evil and dangerous as Taliban can be, on a par with Mullah Omar.


http://www.opinionjournal.com/diary/?id=110008020

This son of a bitch was the official Taliban PR spokesman for the destruction of the ancient Buddhist monuments, a crime against humanity.

It doesn't surprise me that Yale would ally itself with Taliban cultural nihilism, but I'm furious that the administration gave him a visa.

quote:
In the spring of 2001, I was one of several writers at The Wall Street Journal who interviewed Mr. Rahmatullah at our offices across the street from the World Trade Center. His official title was second foreign secretary; his mission was to explain the regime's decision to rid the country of two 1,000-year-old towering statues of Buddha carved out of rock 90 miles from the Afghan capital, Kabul. The archeological treasures were considered the greatest remaining examples of third- and fifth-century Greco-Indian art in the world. But Taliban leader Mullah Omar had ordered all statues in the country destroyed, calling them idols of infidels and repugnant to Islam.
Even Muslim nations like Pakistan denounced the move. Mr. Rahmatullah, who at the time claimed to be 24 but now says he was lying about his age and was actually two years younger, cut a curious figure in our office. He wore a traditional Afghan turban and white baggy pants and sported a full beard. His English, while sometimes elliptical, was smooth and colloquial. He made himself very clear when he said the West had no business worrying about the statues, because it had cut off trade and foreign aid to the Taliban. "When the world destroys the future of our children with economic sanctions, they have no right to worry about our past," he told us, according to my notes from the meeting.

He smiled as he informed us that the statues had been blown up with explosive charges only after people living nearby had been removed. He had no comment on reports that Mullah Omar had ordered 100 cows be sacrificed as atonement for the Taliban government's failure to destroy the Buddhas earlier.

He's a destroyer of worlds, a gloating spokesman for cultural genocide.

quote:
At the University of Southern California, Mr. Rahmatullah expressed irritation with a question about statues that at that point hadn't yet been blown up. "You know, really, I am asked so much about these statues that I have a headache now," he moaned. "If I go back to Afghanistan, I will blow them." ...
[He] spun his story into a contemporary parable of ironic iconoclasm, peppering his lectures with "statue jokes."

He has no place in a university, unless he donates his body to science.

quote:
At a speech for the Atlantic Council, Mr. Rahmatullah was confronted by a woman in the audience who lifted the burkha she was wearing and chastised him for the Taliban's infamous treatment of women. "You have imprisoned the women--it's a horror, let me tell you," she cried. Mr. Rahmatullah responded with a sneer: "I'm really sorry to your husband. He might have a very difficult time with you."


[ March 16, 2006, 03:52 AM: Message edited by: Pete at Home ]

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Digger
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The latest from Mr. Fund on the matter:
http://www.opinionjournal.com/diary/?id=110008096

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Everard
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" ally itself with Taliban cultural nihilism"

http://www.infoplease.com/spot/taliban.html

I'm just baffled by the use of cultural nihilism in relation to the taliban. Seriously Pete, can't you find a useful and descriptive term for ideas you don't like?

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javelin
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quote:
Originally posted by LetterRip:
javelin,

quote:
Really? So, a fourth grade education is equivalent, in anyone's book, to a GED? Or a diploma of graduation from high school? I don't think so.
A GED is also known as a 'high school equivalency' examination and is accepted as a high school diploma equivalent by most colleges. So yes it is equivalent.
Umm, no kidding. I'm thinking perhaps you misread my statement?
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Eric
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Ev --

Maybe "fascism" would be a better fit?

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Everard
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Not really, no...
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Eric
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OK, then...what word would you use?
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Everard
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In the specific case of the taliban, or in the general case where pete applies it to everyone who opposes a position he believes in?
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Eric
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Let's go with the specific case of the Taliban, since I haven't been posting here that long and I'm not as familiar with Pete's past use of the label, and because I thought both his and mine were pretty apt descriptions of Taliban philosophy.
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Everard
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See, the reason taliban philosophy can't even remotely be named cultural nihilism is because they aggressively "promoted" a religious philosophy.

I'd call the taliban a "theocracy."

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Digger
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The problem I see with Mr. Rahmatullah's admission to Yale isn't that he isn't minimally qualified to attend (with standards as vague as the ones cited so far, over 90% of the US is qualified to attend Yale, it would seem), but that Yale chose to admit him, even going so far as to recruit him, over other, more qualified candidates. As a woman quoted by Mr. Fund asks in his latest article on the matter:
quote:
Then there is Sheri Clemons, a 50-year-old social worker from Brooklyn. She vividly recalls the 9/11 attack that was plotted by Osama bin Laden while he was under the protection of the Taliban regime. She was going to her office at Praxis, a private agency that assists the HIV-positive and paroled criminals. As she tried to escape the World Trade Center area, a subway grate collapsed underneath her, and she broke her back and legs. She remains disabled and can walk only the shortest of distances.

"Yale is subsidizing the education of an official from a regime that wanted to eradicate Western civilization," she told me. "The terrorists wanted to do me harm simply because of who I am in the world--a freethinker, a Jew and a lesbian." When I asked her if she has a message for Yale, she replied, "If I were able to physically travel to New Haven, I would tell Yale shame on those who have shamed a great university in this manner. Why couldn't they have identified someone from the ranks of emerging Afghan women to benefit from this precious educational opportunity?" (emphasis added)

Now, that seems a pertinent question.
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LetterRip
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Eric,

our resident fascist would take offense at your usage [Smile]

javelin,

apparently I am missing your point, could you restate?

LetterRip

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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by Everard:
" ally itself with Taliban cultural nihilism"

http://www.infoplease.com/spot/taliban.html

I'm just baffled by the use of cultural nihilism in relation to the taliban. Seriously Pete, can't you find a useful and descriptive term for ideas you don't like?

You don't understand why I would call someone who tries to make room for their ideas by suppressing or destroying everyone else's ideas, a cultural nihilist? You don't understand why I'd call the ACT of destroying the ancient Buddhist statues, an act of cultural nihilism?

Or do you question the fact that the Taliban was associated with the act of destroying those Buddhist statues?

I'm baffled that you're baffled.

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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by Everard:
See, the reason taliban philosophy can't even remotely be named cultural nihilism is because they aggressively "promoted" a religious philosophy.

I'd call the taliban a "theocracy."

Obviously. You don't think that a theocrats (or even a theology) can be culturally nihilistic?


Ev, I've given examples of Newspeak, of the Pharaohs erasing histories of previous dynasties, of Pol Pot wanting to start over at year zero, of the US government punishing Native American children for speaking their native languages in school. I don't understand why you fail to how the Taliban dynamiting of Buddhist statues falls squarely and OBVIOUSLY within that group.

OT suggested the term "Iconoclast," meaning someone who shatters other religons' icons and idols. The term cultural nihilist is broader than iconoclast, since trying to destroy or change a language so you can't express old ideas (Newspeak) is a culturally nihilist act, but not an iconoclast's act. This Taliban act is both iconoclast and culturally nihilistic.

[ March 16, 2006, 04:21 PM: Message edited by: Pete at Home ]

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javelin
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quote:
Originally posted by LetterRip:
javelin,

apparently I am missing your point, could you restate?

LetterRip

Admissions persons at Yale said they require that you've either got a high school diploma or equivalent. Equivalent includes a GED. Equivalent does not include a fourth grade level education. Therefore, Mr Taliban doesn't meet their normal entry requirements, and Pelegius had said he did - that Yale and Harvard don't require high school diploma or equivalent to entire. This is, apparently, absolutely wrong. That's all.

[ March 16, 2006, 04:40 PM: Message edited by: javelin ]

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javelin
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quote:
You don't understand why I would call someone who tries to make room for their ideas by suppressing or destroying everyone else's ideas, a cultural nihilist? You don't understand why I'd call the ACT of destroying the ancient Buddhist statues, an act of cultural nihilism?
For it to be nihilism, they would have to not be trying to replace it with another culture, right? And they are, so cultural nihilism is probably not the best term to use.
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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by javelin:
quote:
You don't understand why I would call someone who tries to make room for their ideas by suppressing or destroying everyone else's ideas, a cultural nihilist? You don't understand why I'd call the ACT of destroying the ancient Buddhist statues, an act of cultural nihilism?
For it to be nihilism, they would have to not be trying to replace it with another culture, right?
Wrong, unless you're using the ivory tower meaningless definition of nihilism, which I reject, because it doesn't describe anything in the real world, and because Nietzche had already provided a better description. I'm not an armchair philosopher and I'm intersted in real world applications. If you can think of a better term for what I'm talking about, then offer one.
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javelin
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quote:
If you can think of a better term for what I'm talking about, then offer one.
We've already had this discussion. Hell, there was a thread. You decided that no alternative, no matter how popular with EVERYONE ELSE, was okay with you. Fine - I don't really need to argue the point - I don't particularly care. I agree with pretty much everyone else that your definition of nihilism isn't very useful, but I pretty much just note in my head "Pete means this when he says this", just like I do when I see Dey use the word "homophobe" and "homosexual".
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