I’ve tried to process my visit to the Jihad Museum and it’s been difficult. I visited almost a month ago and I still can’t say why it disturbed me more than any of the other disturbing experiences in Afghanistan. So instead, I’ll type what I wrote in my journal after the visit:

The manzal-e-jihad yesterday was crazy. Surreal, really. It had traces of confederate civil war museums down in the U.S. south, or actually, any small museum in any small town.

Granted, it cost 34 million to make. I’m hoping this is 34 million in Afghanis but dangit, that’s still alot.

I don’t know if I can arituclate exactly what my issues are. The crude caricatures of the communists, blue suit and red tie askew – definitely what I believed and imbibed in the Afghan American culture I grew up in…Only to find out that I was more likely to be viewed by the same suspicion. We are outsiders, we diaspora Afghans…and communist Afghans, whether we acknowledge it or not. It’s the same sentiment, expressed in Kite Runner & Kabul – we ‘modern’ Afghans never understood the ‘real’ Afghanistan or her people. And once you leave – then who are you really?

Even the perspective of the Jihan Museum reinforced the foreigner status. It was from the perspective of the invaders, watching the revolution. Rather than from the inside. We’re all outsiders, always looking in.

Oh, but it was heartbreaking. Young men dead, so many of them. For what? For a museum that had their meager possessions set up in a glass case? For politicians to manipulate?

The caretaker of the museum said, “If I had known what the future held, I wouldn’t have helped in the Inqalab (revolt against the communists in Herat). We fought so we wouldn’t be the servants of the Soviets but now we’re the servants of everyone.”

Flickr photos of the Jihad Museum