war and wanderlust
2004-04-23, 6:55 p.m.
I met someone last night whose brother is in the military in Afghanistan. Remember that place? Yeah. Anyhow, I understand that Our Boys (edited to add: and, I guess, Our Girls) over there have limited access to the internet. They can only receive and send e-mail from their military e-mail addresses. Their e-mail is censored, just like hard-mail used to be. So this guy gets an e-mail back from the military showing what was sent onto his brother, with essentially the whole text of what he wrote blacked out, explaining that it was censored to "avoid hurting morale." He told me it said something about "we're working hard to try to get Kerry in office and Bush out so you can come home." Likewise, the soldiers' e-mails out get censored, so they can't get a message To The Outside saying things like "Sometimes I think we're killing too many children." Or, y'know, with secret coordinates for military attacks, of course.
Which is all to say that I guess I didn't realize that this practice is still In Full Effect. I think of it as something that happened during the World Wars and Vietnam. I think of the blacked-out documents on the X-Files as fictional exaggerated props. I think of the internet as a place accessable to everyone where ideas flow freely, sometimes too freely even. But for the next few months, this guy's brother isn't allowed to get or send basically, uh, anything that matters.
We got on the topic of Afghanistan because I was relaying the tale of the lesson I got at dinner earlier that night at a Turkish restaurant (called Anatolia) about the regions of Turkey (one of which is called Anatolia) - complete with color brochures that the hostess brought out! Really, when we asked "Is Anatolia another name for Turkey or a city in Turkey?" we didn't know we'd get brochures! By the way, the food there (a) rocked; and (b) was reasonably priced. But a little word of advice in case you go, don't try to compare Turkish cuisine there to any other cuisines. Especially avoid the word "Greek." They don't like it when you make that comparison. At all. The person at my table who said it got a weird overly defensive raised voice whiny response. BUT, they do like telling you about all about the country and when I saw a picture of the coastline in the Black Sea region, I was totally all hot to go! And as I was relaying this tale, there was much making fun of me, as Turkey isn't probably the safest place to travel now. And I kept saying "but it's so amazingly pretty-looking" and then we all remembered how pretty Afghanistan was (until the Taliban destroyed all the architecture and gardens, etc.) and then came the my-brother-is-over-there-now story. But anyway, I couldn't find a picture of the Black Sea coast (sandy beach with huge jagged rocks) to post, but I found this one:
See? Am I so unreasonable for wanting to go? At least in wanting to consider (read: fantasize about) going?