Woke Bacha Bazi
America’s 20-year misadventure in Afghanistan failed to root out bacha bazi, the Afghan custom of men molesting boys. Indeed, the practice, banned and severely punished by the Taliban, flourished during the NATO occupation, with much of the abuse meted out by U.S.-backed security forces. Our troops occasionally lashed out against those they caught molesting so-called dancing boys. But the brass insisted it was beyond America’s remit to change the Afghans’ despicable ways.
Perhaps the higher-ups figured that since Afghan culture has to some extent normalized pedophilia, reversing the trend would require greater exertion than already-beleaguered Western forces in Afghanistan could muster. It’s a thought worth keeping in mind as sexual revolutionaries in the West aggressively push to rob children of their innocence and to rebrand pedophilia positively, all in the name of autonomy and identity.
Witness the recent Twitter tempest over Prostasia Foundation, a nonprofit that claims to combat child abuse but devotes much of its energy to apologizing for pedophiles. Prostasia has been around for a few years but was thrust into the social-media spotlight over the weekend, when it became widely known that Noah Berlatsky, a contributor to the Atlantic (among many other prestigious outlets), serves as the group’s communications director.
That prompted Atlantic writer Elizabeth Bruenig to showcase some of Prostasia’s greatest, most horrifying hits. The group, she noted, promotes the term “minor-attracted person,” or MAP—a naked attempt to reframe pedophilia as one more oppressed identity calling out for sympathy. The problem, according to Prostasia, arises when some “MAPs” act out on their desires, something that could be better prevented if pedophiles felt less marginalized. Or something.
A screen-captured tweet from Prostasia blog editor Sheila van den Heuvel-Collins read: “Merry Christmas to everyone, including the nepiophiles, pedophiles, hebephiles and ephebophiles who have to put up with . . . stigma every single day of the year.” A nepiophile is someone who wants to rape infants. There is much more where that came from. In a September 2018 blog post, Prostasia lamented Tumblr’s habit of “indiscriminately deleting MAPs’ and allies’ blogs.”
Thank God for stigma. Thank God for Tumblr censorship of “MAPs and allies.”
It’s true that a group like Prostasia exists on a fringe—for now. Then again, Berlatsky for years published in Bruenig’s own outlet, as well as the likes of the Washington Post, Foreign Policy, NBC Think, and Reason. This, even though he hardly made a secret of his views on pedophilia: He had raged against sex-offender registries as “racist” on Twitter and denounced police as “child sex workers’ biggest threat” in the New Republic. Even when Berlatsky came under fire recently, Yale philosophy professor Jason Stanley rushed to his defense, accusing Berlatsky’s accusers of promoting “utterly terrifying, Nazi anti-Semitism” in a since-deleted tweet.
The bigger point is that Prostasia’s activities are of a piece with a wider progressive effort to enlist kids in the sexual revolution and conform them to perverse sexual agendas, often using the rhetoric of identity and inclusion.
There was, for example, Lauren Rowello’s June op-ed in the Washington Post, in which she argued for keeping “kink in Pride [parades] for our kids’ sake” and recounted how she had shown her own kids scenes of men in leather thongs “playfully” flogging each other. “These folks [are] members of our community celebrating who they are and what they like to do,” Rowello told her children.
Earlier this month, Dutch photographer Jan van Breda won a €2,500 ($2,950) prize for snapping, as a local newspaper put it, “the most iconic, meaningful and aesthetic” picture from 25 years of Pride in Amsterdam: that of a child, barely older than a toddler, playing on a swing, while men in latex bondage gear mingled nearby.
Simulated child sexualization also permeates the porn industry, with incest and young-meets-old categories ranking as some of the most popular on the “tube” sites visited by hundreds of millions daily. Behind the scenes, industry figures are open about their impatience with age-of-consent laws. Pornhub “brand ambassador” Asa Akira, for example, has spoken publicly about the prospect of deflowering a teenaged boy:
This 13-year-old? . . . His attitude was amazing. But, you know what? . . . If I were single and we were sitting in the Jacuzzi, and he was like, “Hey, you know, like, I’ve never f—ed a girl. Do you want to?” I think I’d say yes. No, that definitely. . . . No one, no one would consider that rape . . . except maybe his mom. . . . And that’s only if she’s, like, a total bitch. . . . Yeah . . . and the law. Whatever.
Then there is the phenomenon of porn education, in which the underaged are supposedly taught how to become better, more thoughtful porn consumers (sadly, Bruenig, while commenting quite sensibly on Prostasia, has herself taken seriously the fantasy of “ethical” porn for kids).
Drag Queen Story Hour is, of course, another manifestation of the genre: Is there a more damning indictment of the liberal West than the pathetic, I’m-so-enlightened chuckles of parents watching as men in latex boots twerk in front of their toddlers? And the booming child-drag culture, celebrated by the likes of the New York Times, has produced the West’s own answer to Afghan dancing boys: footage of preteen children dancing at late-night drag bars, shaking their behinds, picking up dollar bills thrown by adults.
The signs of where all this is headed are clear. Call it what it is: woke bacha bazi. American soldiers were right to object to the practice in Afghanistan, but those in power insisted that they look the other way as pedophilia was normalized. We don’t have to make the same mistake twice.
Sohrab Ahmari is the op-ed editor of the New York Post and a contributing editor of The American Conservative. He is writing a book about America’s privatized tyranny.