Monday, December 28, 2009
Today by chance I happened to come across an interesting set of two pictures that you can see here, of an area in Kabul called Paghman Gardens. One shows the location 40 years ago, and the photo on the right shows its current state (its current state is more or less nonexistent). Pictures like those are good to submit to sites like Reddit so I did so, and lo and behold it went straight to the top:
Not only does a submission to the top of Reddit result in somewhere close to 100,000 hits, but it also drew the attention of the person who actually took the photograph, and along with that the resulting discussion about Afghanistan then and now meant that today was a good day on the internet for historical awareness of Afghanistan.
The picture is a similar theme to this group of pictures I gathered in April from Iran before the Islamic Revolution. A common response to these pictures is often the "oh, but those are just the richest people in the country and the government then was oppressive too", which is true, but the pictures are of regular Iranians, not the government of Iran. In other words, if the Islamic Republic were to disappear one day the people of Iran would not rush to demand a new government of the same type be put in its place (after all, they elected a secularist way back in the 1950s), while in another country with people that are more conservative at heart that might be the case.
The Afghanistan picture is also accurate, since along with the destruction of Paghman Gardens came the destruction of much of the rest of the country as well. A picture of Manhattan in the 1970s followed by a picture of a run-down area today would be inaccurate of course since New York is doing just fine, but pictures of a previously prosperous Detroit compared to its current state do not stretch the truth. After all, whole sections of the city are being given up on and are beginning to turn into grassland again. One example can be seen in this video from earlier in the year.