May 14, 2004 3:29 pm


"In the West, but not in the Middle East," seems to be the answer. Most poignantly, one of the man humiliated in Abu Ghraib demanded to be brought to the US because he could not renew his life in Iraq. Indeed, a number of men argued that Berg was merely killed, not humiliated. This is the attitude which leads to the murder/suicide of raped women and even honor killing. Losing a rebellious daughter is better than being humiliated by the inability to control her. To overcome the natural fear of the unknown, life after death is described as an ideal version of life. Hence, the 72 virgins. Heaven is the place where you not only eat mimosa, but even your sexual fantasies come true.

This is the essence of the culture of death which permeated ancient Egypt and which the Abrahamic tradition sought to end. God stayed the hand of Abraham. Isaac was not to be scarified to prove his belief."Choose life!" became the monotheistic motto. Celebrate life, indeed, join with God in improving its quality. As long as you are alive, you have hope to be able to do just that. The shame belongs to those who humiliate, not to the humiliated as holocaust survivors have so often demonstrated.

The culture of death propagated by radical Islam is reminiscent of the period where enslaved men built the giant tombs, known as pyramids. Those writing the UN report on Arab Development bemoaned the meagerness of Middle Eastern patents. What happened to the superb scientific culture of the Arab empires? The culture of death happened. In America, my daughter's Egyptian friend does superb medical research.

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