Tuesday, March 30, 2004


Normally I think it best to ignore hate mail. But this one, as unimaginative as it is, needs public airing:

You moslems will pay down the line for all your obnoxiousnes.[sic] I believe the Russians have a good method: they feed the genitals of moslems to pigs and let them see it before they die. loveit! See you, chump! (my apologies to monkeys).

Ignoring the collective “you” for starters, I don’t know if this is truly just another one of those urban legends that has caught the attention of a particularly choleric segment of the Anglo-American Blogosphere. But it has been there-- much more openly-- in one form or another, since the day after 9/11. Enough informal exchanges to have warranted an article by one of my favorite desktop warriors at the Freedom Fries Contingent.
Don’t believe me? Do a simple search: terrorists, bodies, pigs.

The perennial desire to defile bodies has been rhapsodized about since the first accounts of wars. Who amongst us can forget Homer’s sublime narratives of the battle over the bodies of the fallen in the Iliad? Or the angry (mis)treatment of Hector’s corpse at the hand of the swift footed Achilleus?

Incidentally, I think one of the reasons why the ancient Greeks were so obsessed with the Persians (more so than the other way around judged by the cursory references to the invasion from the Persian point of view) is that all of a sudden, the Greeks find themselves in battle against a foe that feed its corpses to the dogs and vultures. How would the angry Greek Warrior vent now? How to defile bodies confronting a foe that finds the prospect of funeral pyres equally repulsive?

Personally, I not only like pigs, but also think once I am dead; it makes no difference whether the worms have a go at my body or the pigs. It all evens out one way or another. There is symmetry in nature. There are two aspects to this, nonetheless, that are troubling.

First, those who profess to defend Civilization are exhibiting symptoms of the malaise of the imagination. Silly clichés galore: the 72 virgins, using pigs, and countless other some such nonsense.

Does anyone seriously think that centuries old religious imagination and its multiple official apparatuses--well versed in all manners of the outrageous hairsplitting-- is going to be paralyzed by a pig? Think about it really… really?

Secondly, I do think preserving certain principles is important to all of us-in war and in peace. I do think it important to treat the bodies of the dead respectfully, something about respecting the solemnity of death itself. It goes to the heart of how we define humanity.

When I visit a new city or a country, if I can manage, I pay a visit to the local cemetery. I think you can discern a lot about various societies by the way her citizens interact with their dead. Respect for the living does not inhere in respect for the dead, mind you. That much even I have figured…but one can only hope.

That said, something about the mistreatment of corpses irks me. I am still livid with the Islamic Regime for the way it chose to bury the many victims of the post revolutionary butchery in unmarked plots collectively named La’anat Abad (“Precinct of the Damned”). They had the audacity to even charge the families for the bullets used to execute. I was furious as well when the Somalia’s thugs dragged the corpse of the American Serviceman in the streets.

So it doesn’t matter to me who does this, Iranians, Israelis, Americans, Russians or the Somalis; what you choose to do, defines you who you are for me. I am not much of an essentialist. Even Forest Gump figured out that “stupid is as stupid does”, and let “moral equivalency” be damned.

And this is why I worry also about the outcome of this war on terror. Strictly speaking, there is no doubt in my mind that Political Islam as a movement represented by the likes of Usama cannot “win” in any meaningful way. But I fear in losing, they will have succeeded in undermining all that I find decent about civilized life. And for this, they are not solely to blame.

Sometimes I wonder if this is really a war at all. It is more like a turkey shoot on both sides. Everywhere you look, there is a depressing landscape of the butchered, helpless innocent victims, perambulatory bags, baser instincts, and ever diminishing respect for rights and laws.

The Cru-sadists utter an occasional Oops, where as the Jihadists are more transparently grotesque.

The alternative offered us appears to me more like one of Barbarism, occasional Oops and Strip-joints or Barbarism, archaic Oh-s and veils. Must we choose sides really?

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