August 29, 2006

A Midnight Waltz With Spirits

A midnight waltz in Chornobyl, now that's kicking death in the teeth.
--Martin Cruz Smith, Wolves Eat Dogs

by Jerome du Bois

It's been beyond disappointing, this past week, to witness the complete lack of response to Catherine's stunning post on her spirit photography. Her evocative illustrated narrative, for one thing, takes the reader on a journey through fear and into wonder, with side trips into making artworks out of what she has digitally captured as she tries to make sense of what has entered, and lingered in, our lives. And then the photographs themselves, fraught with mysterious beauty, beggar explanation, since they are simply point-and-click digital images made with a perfectly functional Canon EOS Rebel. No tricks, no manipulation, no mistakes, and yet they could stand right next to, and blow away, all the overwrought work by Jeremy Blake or Wolfgang Tillmanns or Gerhard Richter, not to mention all the "spirit photographers" out there with their corny websites. She considers it her masterpiece, which she worked on incessantly for most of the summer.

I can understand how most of the locals would ignore her piece. We've burned our ticket and our bridges in this toxic town --a place as poisonous as Chornobyl (yes, that's how they spell it in Ukraine)-- because we've pointed to both their lack of high artistic standards and their elevation of mediocrity and stupidity as worthy of exhibition. We're surrounded by small minds with degenerate appetites. So we're reduced to waltzing at midnight, all alone on this small bright screen, when I know that a show of these photographs, blown up on gallery walls, and accompanied by interactive audio of her story, would be compelling beyond words.

But it's those other visitors out there, in other states and countries, who really puzzle me.

From Michigan to Illinois to Maryland, from England to the Phillipines to Spain --nothing. They drop in, look briefly, and leave. It makes me wonder what happened to wonder. And the appreciation of haunted beauty. Hundreds of creepy websites will show you pictures of the dead, and dozens claim to exhibit ectoplasmic entities, but only this one displays the longing from the beyond, as these spirits, bereft of their beloved bodies, keep kicking death in the teeth --to no avail. It's life on earth they miss. Believe me, I've listened to lots of channelers in my time, and whoever or whatever was speaking through them, these entities never had anything to say about the landscape of the undiscovered country. Which leads me to believe it's no place to envy.

Please take more than a moment --take your time-- to study, really study, the photograph below.

littlehouse2.jpg
Little House In The Big Graveyard, 2006. By Catherine King. All rights reserved.

Spirits, in their desperate desire for connection, reach out to touch the streaming light, and manage to bend it slightly, like lifting a woman's hair from the back of her neck. But they darken the sky with their presence as well. Many days they have lingered around our cabin door, in these hard times.

Perhaps, as Catherine has written, we two are cursed. Cursed by a door that opened and let in a flood of sadness and mystery, and the knowledge of our fragile contingency. A knowledge that others run from. But whether they look back or not, it's gaining on them anyway. So we stay and face the darkness and dance, invisible as the spirits that surround us.

Posted by Jerome at 08:05 PM | TrackBack

August 21, 2006

The Grinning Devil (Updated)

by Jerome du Bois

Alex Ginsburg, a religious studies senior at Arizona State University, is an evil man. He is not misinformed, he is not a fool, and he is not an idiot. He knows exactly what he's doing and what he's saying. From the freedom and security of his home here in the United States, where nobody will break down his door and haul him off to a hellhole jail for what he writes, he extols fidel castro and laughs at the suffering of ordinary Cubans while he stuffs his face with organic food from Gentle Strength Co-op.

It is evil to know the tragic truth and yet print vicious lies. It is just as evil to do so in a smarmy tone of voice.

What's a little suppression of political dissent when people can get treatment for diabetes? What are a few innocent human rights violations when people have access to locally grown produce without toxins? What's a little communism when Cuba is contributing less to global climate change than the rest of us?

I think it's high time we lure Fidel away from Cuba and help him paint the White House red. Health and vegetables will more than make up for his $900 million compensation.

The truth about Cuba's health care system is just one mouse click away. Take a look at these pictures from The Real Cuba website, and while your stomach is churning, remember that Alex Ginsburg, that human toxin, is enjoying your discomfort and these people's pain.

No doubt the Religious Studies program at ASU, which awarded him a Jewish Studies Scholarship last year, is quite proud of him --the little grinning devil.

(Hat tip: Val Prieto, Babalu Blog. Also, here's a link to our Cuban Art Series.)

Update 8/22/06: I received a response from Mr. Ginsburg, which I have reproduced in full, with fisking, after the jump. In it, he shows that he has completely adopted the heartlessness of what I call the zombie dispositions.

In contrast to your blog post on my article, I will not resort to petty personal attacks. I neither know you, nor am I interested in knowing you.

Right back at ya, man. Your heart is a grave.

Also, being called 'evil' or a 'human toxin' does not really bother me as I am a radical relativist and I am generally in favor of anything that will lessen the human population impact on the global ecosystem (and being a 'human toxin' would do that, yes?).

Reality isn't relative, though, and doesn't care about his philosophical position. And he is saying here that he considers the highest species on this planet a kind of plague, and apparently wouldn't mind if he himself were taken out of the equation.

I looked at the Real Cuba website (which other readers also alerted me to) and, while noting some of the charges, cannot accept this website as a reputable source of information. My information on the healthcare situation in Cuba comes from the World Health Organization, which is a reputable international NGO. If my information is wrong, it is because this non-partisan group has compiled inaccurate information which has subsequently passed a peer review process.

I referred him to photographs, not "charges." Photographs of reality, not third-hand "information." Partisanship has nothing to do with it. Oliver Stone could have taken the pictures, and that wouldn't change the misery that cries out from them.

As for the information on sustainable agriculture my information comes from: Environment: The Science behind the Stories. S.R. Brennan & J.H Withgott. Benjamin Cummings, 2005.

This is a hundred-dollar textbook. I suggest he exchange it for Ben Corbett's "This is Cuba," where the case studies are much more down to earth. Corbett is a socialist, as far as I can tell, highly critical of the United States; but that doesn't stop him from looking straight at the dolorous Cuban reality.

Furthermore, I believe you misundertood the point of my article. My aim was not to deify Castro - certainly, he has supressed political dissent and injured a significant part of the population. My article was an attempt to demonstrate that we (as Americans) should not pretend to live in a perfect system and that even those political systems that we despise have created great successes (and I consciously extend this beyond Cuba). Rather than villify other regimes, we should attempt to improve our own.

But he made light of the dissent and the injury; the ongoing domestic political debates prove that nobody is pretending that we live in a perfect system; and Castro's Cuba has not created great successes. There's never enough rice, or beans, or tomatoes, or sugar, or flour, or coffee. No ordinary Cuban can live from the libreta. Nothing is sustained but hunger. And it's not a matter of "despising," it's a matter of human dignity, freedom, and justice, all of which are victims of this regime.

Finally, you note that I received a Jewish Studies scholarship last year. You have no idea under what conditions I was awarded that scholarship. At my University scholarships are awarded on the merit of scholarship, not the political opinions (published or otherwise) that a person may have.

Yet another great tradition, which includes Talmud and Kabbalah, slides down into disrepute, if they reward a man like this. Ari the Lion is roaring in his grave.

Posted by Jerome at 02:20 PM | TrackBack

August 17, 2006

The Children of Ishmael

by Jerome du Bois

While we in the Western world recoiled in horror at the British baby bombers, the Islamic jihadists were sneering at our sensitivity. The Wahhabist/Salafist Sunnis and the Khomeinist Shias chuckle up their sleeves when we show our shock at the cruel manipulations of the Green Helmet Man. They think we're weak. But we know they are evil. How did they get that way?

They have been carefully taught by their male imams to hate women, themselves, this earth, and human life itself. And how are they taught? By widespread, culturally-sanctioned child sexual abuse. Whether in the Middle East, Afghanistan, or their self-created European ghettos, male and (some) female Muslims turn their humiliation into hatred. (By way of contrast, to my knowledge, not one of the many thousands of victims of child-molesting Catholic priests has blown himself or herself up in a crowd of people.)

We are still waiting for the publication of The Sheik's New Clothes, by Dr. Nancy Kobrin and Yoram Schweitzer, which I first heard about two years ago. This book details the dynamics of the shame/honor culture of Islam. Phyllis Chesler, who writes the introduction to the book, offers a glimpse of its contents in The Psychoanalytic Roots of Islamic Terrorism, which I will link to but won't quote. It's too disgusting.

It makes me so angry to even have to discuss this kind of thing, but this hellhole is where Islam leads. It is no accident that Sayyed Qtuf, horrified by the freedom of American women in the Fifties, spawned modern Wahhabism. It is no accident that Mohammed Atta was terrified at the prospect of a pregnant woman approaching his dead body or his grave. It is no accident that Seattle jihadist Naveed Haq shot women.

And this kind of perversity may have ancient roots, with evidence in what Christians call the Old Testament.

In 1997, Jonathan Kirsch wrote The Harlot By The Side Of The Road: Forbidden Tales Of The Bible. Though some critics called it sensationalistic, it is hard to argue with his scholarship and philology. On pages 49 to 52, he retells the story of the banishment of Ishmael, whom many Arab tribes consider their ancestor. In the section called "What Did Sarah See?" he writes:

The disappearance of four words in an early version of the biblical text raises the intriguing if troubling prospect that the Bible also records an incident of incestuous child molestation, a notion so shocking that it may have been literally written out of the Bible by the rabbinical censors. Did Ishmael, the firstborn son of the patriarch Abraham, molest his five-year-old brother, Isaac?

Recall that Ishmael is the child of Sarah's handmaiden, the Egyptian Hagar, and Isaac is Sarah's own child, conceived when she was ninety years old. In fact, when she overheard God's promise to Abraham that she would get pregnant, "she laughs, almost literally, in God's face." The name Isaac means "I laughed."

And now the Bible shows us a deeply enigmatic scene [Gen. 21:8-10] in which we find the fifteen-year-old Ishmael at play with his five-year-old step-brother at a feast in celebration of the fact that Isaac has been weaned (at last!) from the breast. But the festivities are ruined for Sarah because she happens to see Ishmael doing something to Isaac, something so disturbing that Sarah promptly demands that Ishmael and his mother be "cast out" in the wilderness a second and final time.

Exactly what does Sarah see, exactly what does Ishmael do, that prompts such anger and outrage in Sarah? All we are told in conventional English translations of the Bible is that Sarah sees Ishmael "mocking" young Isaac --and we are asked to believe that, thanks to a single adolescent taunt by one sibling toward another, Sarah drives mother and son into the desert to die.

Unless, that is, she saw something much worse than mere mockery.

The Hebrew word translated as "mocking" is t'sahak. Kirsch goes on:

One of the meanings of t'sahak is "laugh" --a play on Isaac's name-- and that's the one on which the translators, old and new, have relied in suggesting that Ishmael merely "mocked" or "laughed at" Isaac. What the translators are reluctant to let us know is that another meaning of t'sahak is "fondle," and the original Hebrew text of the Bible may suggest that what Sarah actually saw was some kind of sex play between Ishmael and his little brother.

Indeed, the very same Hebrew word that is used to describe what Ishmael does to Isaac appears only a few lines later in Genesis to describe Isaac fondling Rebekah outside the window of Abimilech, King of the Philistines . . . "Behold, Isaac was sporting with Rebekah his wife" (Gen. 26:8).

My Ryrie Study Bible (King James Version) translates "sporting" as "caressing." Also, interestingly, Ryrie's notes on t'sahak for the Ishmael incident (Gen 21:9) include references to 19:14 --when Lot's sons-in-law laugh at his warnings to get out of Sodom-- and 39:14-17 --when Potiphar's wife, humiliated by Joseph's rejection of her advances, accuses him of attempted rape. But Ryrie's etymological note at 21:9 skips right over 26:8. Kirsch again:

The mystery of what Sarah saw deepens when we notice that an entire phrase has been dropped from the passage in some versions of the Bible itself. The authoritative version of the Bible in its complete Hebrew text --the so-called Masoretic Text-- includes only a truncated description of what Ishmael is doing when Sarah sees him. "Sarah noticed that [Ishmael] was playing." But the early Greek version of the Bible called the Septuagint and the Latin version called the Vulgate, which may have been translated from Hebrew manuscripts even more ancient than the Masoretic Text, give the same verse as "Sarah noticed that [Ishmael] was playing with her son Isaac."

These are the four words Kirsch is referring to at the beginning of the section.

Well, so what? the reader may ask. How could this ancient incident, if it even happened, and which predated Islam by centuries, have any connection with contemporary jihadists?

I'm not saying it does. But it's interesting to me that this bad seed was hidden in the Bible. Mohammed and his literate followers drew heavily on both Jewish and Christian sources for the Koran; the Arabs --the self-acknowledged descendants of Ishmael-- have exercised a tight monopoly over Muslim language, history, and geography; and Islam has had no therapeutic or dissoluble effect on pre-Islamic barbaric tribal practices; in fact, it has adopted and absorbed them. Muslim men will kill their wives, sisters and daughters if they demonstrate any hint of independence. Muslims will kill people in front of a crowd in a public square with no recourse to civilized law beforehand, and then stomp on the poor victim's face. Muslims will dress their children up as suicide bombers. Muslims will train their children to be suicide bombers. Muslims will turn foreign children into camel jockeys. Muslim mothers will say of their shaheed, "Thank God--my son is dead." Muslims will bloody their children's heads with swords. Muslims will take Jewish body parts out of a bag and wave them around and step on them. Muslims in the United States will enslave non-Muslim women with not a second thought. And they'll open fire on innocents in the name of Allah. Ishmael tried to rob Isaac of his innocence and self-respect, and these are the children of Ishmael.

May we never get over our horror at what they do.

Posted by Jerome at 06:50 PM | TrackBack

August 06, 2006

Believing In People

by Jerome du Bois

[What follows is not an expository essay, but a series of aphorisms, observations, quotations, and musings, a string of beads of varying sizes, held together by the thread of the first sentence.]

It may not be easy to believe in God, but just try believing in people.

Maybe that's why people believe in God.

* * *

As Catherine says, "People are hard to love, and impossible to trust."

* * *

We have attacked a lot of people and ideas on this blog, but if you read carefully, or even superficially, it's because we are outraged by the persistent and gleeful efforts to denigrate and destroy human dignity, decency, individualism, beauty, restraint, and just plain manners. The upward glance. The best within us. Values we want to defend and promote. You need not look far to find the Rebarb. This week's New Times, for example, runs a cover story about an infantile, talentless fool who is taking "I hate you, Dad!" to new depths; then features an "artist" who makes beaded versions of disease pustules and wears an octopus hat; thus advancing and celebrating stupidity, degradation and humiliation. These are the kind of people they put front and center. Why? Because the people at that newspaper want others to be as ugly as they are.

* * *

Apparently Bernard Schoset and his livejournal friends took issue with my piece on the Basiji. So the sitemeter says, anyway. We haven't, and won't, be reading anything they write. Though they come here, we don't go there. Why not? Because they wish us ill. In other words, their very first impulse is ad hominem, to take us down, not to address the subject. And speaking of which, what could they possibly find to defend in present-day Islam? Even in its mildest form, it is a collectivist faith, in which the individual (unless you're an imam, of course) is next to nothing.

* * *

From Amin Maalouf, In The Name of Identity: Violence and the Need to Belong:

Traditions deserve to be respected only insofar as they are respectable --that is, exactly insofar as they themselves respect the fundamental rights of men and women.

* * *

From Daniel Dennett, Breaking The Spell: Religion As A Natural Phenomenon:

Most Muslims, I would guess, are sincere in their insistence that the hadith injunction that apostates are to be killed is to be disregarded, but it's disconcerting, to say the least, that fear of being regarded as an apostate is apparently a major motivation in the Islamic world . . . So it is not just we outsiders who are left guessing. Even Muslims "on the inside" really don't know what Muslims think about apostasy --they mostly aren't prepared to bet their lives on it, which is the surest sign of belief . . . (p.289)

In Islam, the individual, inalienable right to doubt can mean a death sentence.

* * *

Right now, I can assure you, there are readers out there snickering and having fun with our anger and heartbreak, and our need to behold the goodness glowing in our fellow human beings. I wonder what they see when they look inside their own hearts?

* * *

All across this great nation, antisemitism is dropping its mask and stepping up to center stage, from New York to Washington DC to California (Daily Kos). Remember that Israel is a secular democracy, which respects individual rights, and that most of its enemies are theocracies, who respect no individuals whatsoever. And, as I write, right now, Hezbollah has just fired big new rockets into Haifa, into both Jewish and Arab neighborhoods, killing 3 (so far), and injuring 100+ (so far).

* * *

In the last few days I've been rereading Robert Stone's 1992 masterpiece novel, Damascus Gate. In it, American expatriate journalist Christopher Lucas, born Jewish, raised Catholic, now a doubter, gets overwhelmed by the claustrophobic overlapping traditions which jam Jerusalem from end to end. One cannot just be, in the Old City, one must belong. (This doesn't obviate what I said about Israel above. Israel is a lot more than the Old City.)

There's a Messianic cult in the novel, a syncretic amalgamation of Kaballah, Christianity, Judaism, tantric Buddhism, kundalini yoga, and what-all. What struck me about the group was their need for the One Big Answer to it all; the final trump that ties everything together. But what's holy, for Catherine and I, is everyday life --the little things, the idiosyncratic shapes of the lived experience of those who pay their dues as they go along. As Dennett has written elsewhere, "This world is sacred."

* * *

Yesterday, as I was driving to the pharmacy on an errand for my mother, I got into a car accident, and ended up in the hospital getting my head stitched back together.

Some guy ran the red light, just sailing along ("I thought it was green"), and I slammed into his front fender, rolled across the street, bounced over the curb, and rammed into the brick wall of an apartment building. I was the only one hurt. Several minutes later, as I was lying on the paramedics' board, I found myself crying in gratitude. To God? Of course not. God's nowhere around. I was grateful for this country, this state, and this city; for the whole wonderful infrastructure which encourages and trains those of good heart to become paramedics, doctors, and nurses. (The first person to tend to me at the scene was an off-duty nurse.) Everyone was efficient, competent, calm, and polite. The four men leaning over me, taping me down, asking quiet questions, were better than any angels.

Today I feel as though a mountain had fallen on me --it hurts to type, even-- but damn! it's great to be alive! And to be here, in the USA. Sad to say, though, those strangers were the best people I've personally met in several long years.

* * *

Recently, some Code Pink people arrogantly thought it was right for them to interfere in the private lives of some of their fellow citizens. They decided to "take over" a gas station in Kansas City and prevent people from pumping gas. It wasn't long before they got their asses handed to them. But what makes me mad is their contempt for other people, as if these clueless bastards knew better than regular folks what was really important. What they know, though, but won't admit, is that regular people wouldn't and shouldn't give them the time of day, so they narcisisstically interfere with others' lives. They don't care if the motorist has to gas up quick to pick up their kid from day care; or get home for a quick dinner before the wife or husband has to leave for second shift; or pick up some medicine from the pharmacy. Other people's rights mean nothing to them. They care for nothing but their own stunted, selfish view of the world. And they were dealt with accordingly.

* * *

Who shall be saved? In 2003, The New Yorker interviewed Mel Gibson, and the interviewer asked him if Protestants are denied eternal salvation.

"There is no salvation for those outside the Church," Gibson replied. "I believe it." He explained: "Put it this way. My wife is a saint. She's a much better person than I am. Honestly. She's, like, Episcopalian, Church of England. She prays, she believes in God, she knows Jesus, she believes in that stuff. And it's just not fair if she doesn't make it, she's better than I am. But that is a pronouncement from the chair [of Peter]. I go with it."

So while the woman who stayed faithful to him and bore him umpteen children writhes in the torments of Hell, he can occasionally peek down from Heaven and give her a little wave. She, as a person, doesn't matter; the Church matters. (This quote is also from Dennett, above, who points out that many Christians, Jews, and Muslims believe it about their own One True Ways, but won't say it.)

* * *

From Dennett, page 97: "Among Hindus, there is disagreement over whether Shiva or Vishnu is the higher Lord, and many have been killed for their belief in this matter."

In Iraq, our soldiers are being killed so that two religious sects, the Sunni and the Shia, can continue to kill them and each other over an event that happened over a thousand years ago, when the Imam Hussein was betrayed by his own crew during the Battle of Karbala. We brought these people the greatest gift of civilization --individual freedom-- and they're spitting on it, while taking our money and laughing up their sleeves at us. I was all for getting rid of Saddam Hussein, but now I say we leave them to kill each other. And if they ever come over here for us, take them out with the rest of the trash that doesn't honor the sovereign individual person.

* * *

It is very difficult to believe in people --in their basic goodness-- but I do. And I say this while living in the Valley where the two Serial Shooters indulged in murder for sport for over a year. G. K. Chesterton said that the man who believes in nothing ends up believing in everything. Which I take to mean that nihilism leads to fanaticism. But there is a middle way, a belief in something --that ordinary, educated people, left to their own devices, recognize that without the law, it's all darkness. The law that is embodied in our Constitution --leave people alone, protect their freedom, shield them from tyrants-- is our best weapon against evil.

Posted by Jerome at 06:12 PM | TrackBack

August 04, 2006

Pinkorcism

by The Tears of Things

It's been a year and the pink plague continues with a vengeance no longer so wimpy. But the banner above will be our last in the Pink Series. It's gotten to us-- you can see how we've lost our equilibrium toward the end there. We can rest now, though, knowing that we've done our part. We tried to warn you --look below-- but you wouldn't listen. Wouldn't listen --or didn't care.

Enough With The Pink Already

What's Good For The Goose . . .

It's Not A Rose-Colored World / And Wearing Pink Won't Make It So

What Part Of 'Enough' Don't You Understand?

Pink Triptych Update!

Not A Rose-Colored World: The Life-Sized Version

Don't Be Pinkin' With Us; Or, Them's Fightin' Duds

The Pink Brigades

How Do You Say "Stop It" In Pink? Or, Who Stole The Pepto-Bismol?

Someone else will have to pick up the torch now. We're going to find another color to pick on . . .

Okay, one more.

Posted by Jerome at 09:47 AM | TrackBack

August 01, 2006

Curse of the Basiji

by Jerome du Bois

The natural world is . . . the scum of creation.
--Ayatollah Khomeini, 1980

Like many ordinary Americans who follow both the blogs and the news media, I am witnessing the unraveling of Qana, Hezbollah's latest heartless, soulless attempt to manipulate Western compassion by using the dead as mere props. For several days before Qana I had been thinking about writing a semi-satirical post on the Sunni-Shia schism of Islam, using as my starting point the worst-ever episode of the original "Star Trek." It was called "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield," and starred Frank Gorshin and Lou Antonio as mortal enemies. Each was half-white and half-black, divided down the middle. But there was a "crucial" difference between the two, which anyone could see.

To me, because I had done little research on the history of the Sunni-Shia split, their enmity seemed as superficial as that photo. But I was wrong. Though I still believe that Islam itself is anti-human because of its essential misogyny --because, for its continued existence as a religion, women must be subjugated-- the modern Shia expression of Islam, as developed by the Ayatollah Khomeini, is anti-life. And it just took about two clicks of the mouse to travel from the silliness of "Star Trek" to the worst people on earth.

I'm referring to the Basiji, who we don't hear much about in the news, but who dominate it: who invented suicide bombing in 1982; who shaped Hezbollah and inspired Sunni Hamas and the 9/11 murderers; who elected Ahmadinejad (a Basiji); who formed a million-man army (some busloads of them heading to Lebanon as I write); who monitor and repress Westernization in Iran (Taliban-style); and who are now being trained in Iranian nuclear laboratories. They would not hesitate to invite the vaporization of millions of Iranians (and anyone else) if it meant the destruction of Israel. In fact, they would welcome such "martyrdom," even their own. Especially their own. They learned this thinking from the examples of the children of the minefields.

From Matthias Küntzel's stunning and comprehensive article, "Ahmadinejad's World," first published in April in the New Republic, and which should be read in its entirety:

In pondering the behavior of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, I cannot help but think of the 500,000 plastic keys that Iran imported from Taiwan during the Iran-Iraq War of 1980-88. At the time, an Iranian law laid down that children as young as 12 could be used to clear mine fields, even against the objections of their parents. Before every mission, a small plastic key would be hung around each of the children’s necks. It was supposed to open for them the gates to paradise.

“In the past,” wrote the semi-official Iranian daily Ettela’at, “we had child-volunteers: 14-, 15-, and 16-year-olds. They went into the mine fields. Their eyes saw nothing. Their ears heard nothing. And then, a few moments later, one saw clouds of dust. When the dust had settled again, there was nothing more to be seen of them. Somewhere, widely scattered in the landscape, there lay scraps of burnt flesh and pieces of bone.” Such scenes could henceforth be avoided, Ettela’at assured its readers. “Before entering the mine fields, the children [now] wrap themselves in blankets and they roll on the ground, so that their body parts stay together after the explosion of the mines and one can carry them to the graves.”

The children who thus rolled to their deaths formed part of the mass “Basij” movement that was called into being by the Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979. The Basij Mostazafan –-the “mobilization of the oppressed”–- consisted of short-term volunteer militias. Most of the Basij members were not yet 18. They went enthusiastically and by the thousands to their own destruction. “The young men cleared the mines with their own bodies,” a veteran of the Iran-Iraq War has recalled, “It was sometimes like a race. Even without the commander’s orders, everyone wanted to be first.”

The western media showed little interest for the Basiji –- perhaps because journalists could not be present during the hostilities or perhaps because they did not believe the reports. Such disinterest has persisted to this day. The 5000 dead of Saddam Hussein’s poison gas attack on the Kurds of Halabja have remained in our memory. History has forgotten the children of the minefields.

And yet they are all around us, in the minds and actions of those --all of them Muslims-- who strap on the bomb belts and drive the bomb cars; who build hospitals and schools on top of ammunition bunkers; who, without a heartbeat's hesitation, ensure that innocent civilians get killed before they do; and who parade the dead --whether intact or dismembered-- like prizes before complicit photographers.

They hate life itself, which makes them the scum of creation.

Posted by Jerome at 09:17 PM | TrackBack