Night Letters

Night letters are a tactic used by the Taliban to intimidate Afghans who support the legitimate government here.  Under cover of darkness, Taliban operatives will post threatening messages on the door of a kalat (the big walled compounds in which most Afghans live) in which they suspect government sympathizers live. Sometimes the letters feature generic anti-US and Afghan government messages. Other times they are direct and personal, threatening death if the recipients don’t change their ways.  Night letters scare the beejeezus out of those who get them, because the threats are not idle.

All this occurs to me because I’m typing this post at four in the morning.  I’m an early riser, and it’s about the only time I can roam the Internet here with anything close to the ease and speed that we are used to in the States.  In any case, consider this post and all the others my night letters to you, though of a friendlier, non-threatening sort than those the Taliban sends.


3 Responses to “Night Letters”

  1. Chris Brown Says:

    Hey Pete,

    Glad you’re back on the blog! Or maybe I should say shame on the New York Times for not keeping us posted better!

    It’s interesting you should write about “Night Letters.” I just finished Gabrel Garcia Marquez’s In Evil Hour (1968). The novel is about the public posting of lampoons about the citizens in a Colubian village–at night, of course. The interesting thing about Garcia Marquez’s “night letters” is that they all contain personal information about people’s habits or activities that everyone knows but no one acknowledges publicly. It is only when the “secrets” that everyone knows are “revealed” publicly (in the form of lampoons) that people become frightened or self-conscious.


  2. Mike Says:

    An interesting rhetorical device: using kairos to (negatively) increase a writer’s ethos, through appeals to pathos? Should you have the opportunity, I’d love to see what such things look like, or translations.

    Stay well.

  3. petermolin Says:

    Mike: The rhetorical construction of the war is indeed a subject that warms my heart, and would set yours aflame. I’ve got a couple of posts in mind that will address the subject from various angles. BTW, there’s a LitCrit smarty-pants lurking in the background of almost every post (as well as a variety of other influences). Military culture and the war experience are so ripe for exploration using the terms and concepts we few, we happy few, learned in grad school. -Pete

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