by Greg Palast
February 12, 2008
Or Kyrgyzstan. Or Turkmenistan. But as your kids will be fighting there among the oil pipes, you should kiss Ted Rall’s crazy ass for going there first – and getting it all down in a book of dead-on cartoons and reportage, Silk Road to Ruin.
Rall almost didn’t make it back. The Taliban who was supposed to execute Rall spoke English – the gunman picked it up as an NYU grad student. As happens when two guys from New York get together, they talked about New York women. Rall told his executioner that you could learn a lot about women by looking at their legs. The Talib said he looks at their eyes. “Not like you got much choice,” Ted opined, noting the draped figures nearby.
Selling Out the Uyghurs, or, Why even More of them Hate Us
from Ted Rall’s Silk Road to Ruin: Is Central Asia the New Middle East
A four-day ride on the westbound express train from Beijing takes you to China’s Wild West. Xinjiang Province, hundreds of miles beyond an eroded earthen mound that was once the Great Wall, lies southwest of Mongolia, east of Afghanistan and north of the Tibetan plateau. Full of dusty deserts, soaring mountains and eight million Muslims, Xinjiang is—like so many geopolitically sensitive places—the middle of nowhere but in between a lot. (Early 20th century British explorer Aurel Stein noted the region’s “desolate wilderness, bearing everywhere the impress of death.”) Today Chinese-occupied Central Asia is a case study in how American foreign policy turns pro-American Muslims into deadly enemies.
“From the pre-modern era until the mid-18th century, Xinjiang was either ruled from afar by Central Asian empires or not ruled at all,” Joshua Kurlantzick writes in Foreign Affairs. During the 1950s Mao’s Communist Party worked to consolidate its power by centralizing Chinese culture and politics in Beijing. That meant suppressing cultures and religions out of step with the majority ethnic Han Chinese, such as the Tibetans and Mongols. The jackboot came down hardest on Xinjiang, where in 1955 more than ninety percent of the population were Turkic Muslims—mostly Uyghurs along with smaller portions of such Central Asian tribes as Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, Uzbeks, Tajiks and Tatars. The Uyghurs, whose rich pre-Muslim Buddhist culture gave their language (which can be written in Arabic and Roman script) to Genghis Khan’s Mongol Empire, were viewed by China’s new government as a threat to national cohesion. They may have had a point. After all, they had revolted against precommunist China forty-two times in two hundred years.
…continued plus cartoon strip by Ted Rall
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