Politics & Policy

Pigs, Jews & War

Fronts in the clash of civilizations.

I am fascinated by this idea of wrapping dead terrorists in pigskin and lard. This is what the Russians — who understand far better than Americans how to deter Muslim terrorists — are doing with Chechen terrorists. The idea is that some Muslims believe they cannot enter heaven if they’re wrapped in pork, which may be the other white meat here but is the unclean meat over there. Which is just another example of the growing rift between our two civilizations, as many Americans consider being swaddled in pork products to be heaven itself. Eternity in bacon… mmmmm.

This tactic was first invented in the Sudan by crafty British colonials who wanted to deter suicide attacks. It apparently worked quite well. Since then, Islam’s enemies have fallen back on the tried-and-true powers of fatback more than once. I can’t find an article about it, but I do recall reading that there were riots in India over rumors that Hindu troops had dipped their bullets in pork in order to not only kill Muslims, but ensure that they would never collect their final reward — i.e., a lifetime of being the star of your own personal In Like Flynt movie. Some Israeli settlers have been rumored to employ the tactic too. In one instance, Hamas claimed the ploy wouldn’t work because Jewish settlers couldn’t possibly “hold the keys to paradise.” After all, if Jews could prevent martyrs from collecting their 72 virgins then Jews would, in effect, be more powerful than Allah.

I hate to agree with Hamas on anything but I must say that, theologically, I think they’ve got the better of this argument. Biblical or Koranic interpretation of God’s will cannot actually be more powerful than God’s will. Otherwise, God would be powerless, bound by the limited understanding of man and unable even to change his mind, which would be odd.

But, then again, it is in Hamas’s self-interest to take the “Your pork products are useless against us!” interpretation. First of all, Hamas is in the murder business and they pay very little in terms of cash wages. Their only compensation for (literally) self-sacrificing employees is a promissory note redeemable for, among other things, free nookie and booze in the afterlife. (Muslims aren’t allowed to drink in this life but are promised great wine in the next, which always struck me as odd. Why should something be sinful in this life but okay in the next?) Obviously, if, all of a sudden, Jews could invalidate Hamas’s bottomless bowl of nookie coupons by simply tacking a piece of bacon to the corpse of a murderer — sorry, “martyr” — then Hamas would either have to up its wages considerably or get into a totally different line of work.

Secondly, Hamas & co. can’t possibly believe pig products are the equivalent of the underage stamp on your driver’s license when it comes to getting into “eternity’s most rocking nightclub” — because apparently, many of them believe Jews are made from pork too. And, Lord knows, these guys have no problem with getting Jewish blood on themselves.

According to a chilling report from the indispensable folks at MEMRI, the notion that Jews are the descendents of apes and pigs is evidently quite widespread in the Arab world. In a sermon last April, Al-Azhar Sheikh Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi, the highest-ranking Sunni cleric in the world, sat down after fully pronouncing his full name, which took a full 73 minutes, counting applause. But in another sermon he called Jews “the enemies of Allah, descendants of apes and pigs.”

Saudi sheikh Abd Al-Rahman Al-Sudayyis, an imam and preacher at the Al-Haraam mosque — the most important mosque in Mecca — begged Allah to annihilate the Jews. He said Arabs should turn their backs on any peace initiatives because Jews are “the scum of the human race, the rats of the world, the violators of pacts and agreements, the murderers of the prophets, and the offspring of apes and pigs.”

There’s a lot more — about Allah turning Jews into apes and pigs, pigs and apes, apelike pigs, porcine apes, and so on — but it’s not really a complicated point when you think about it, so let’s leave it there.

Now, never mind what this unusual view of human evolution says about the likelihood of a thriving biotechnology industry in the Middle East anytime soon. And never mind how many truckloads of grains of salt we’ll need with which to take Arab accusations of racism and warmongering in the future. Hell, let’s just glide past the whole Islam-means-peace thing (unless you think, in the light of those 72 virgins, that “peace” should be spelled “piece”).

Instead, let’s ask what this says about us — meaning the West, the civilized world, whatever you want to call us.


Earlier this week I appeared on a pilot for a new BBC series about politics. I was asked to represent the “pro-war” position — i.e., in favor of both the war on terrorism and the toppling of Saddam. One guest we interviewed on the show was a nice lady from the group Not in Our Name. She was an Iraqi exile who escaped Saddam’s wrath in 1979 and has been living in the U.K. ever since. She thinks Saddam is evil, a threat to the entire world, and all of that. But, it seemed to me, she’s also become thoroughly “Westernized” in the worst possible sense. When asked what we should do about Saddam (and I’m quoting from memory) she said, “We have to change our own attitudes toward Saddam,” she explained to a wave of applause. “Change must come from within us. We have to learn how to look at Saddam in a new way.”

This is the geopolitical equivalent of saying a rape victim was asking for it by being too provocative. This woman thinks Saddam is even more evil and guilty of more crimes than I do — and yet she thinks the problem of Saddam can only be solved through greater self-improvement on our part. The bank robber isn’t the problem, it’s the attitude of the tellers! The egocentrism of this view is staggering when you think about it, because it implies that our inner lives determine the outcome of the whole world.

I bring this up because I keep wondering what would happen if the U.S. decided to adopt the pigskin policy. PETA would have a problem with it, of course — but I bet they wouldn’t be the only lefties to be horrified. Even the atheists who spend so much energy mocking Christians for their beliefs would leap to the defense of the corpses of Muslim murderers.

One of my sparring partners on the BBC show insisted that we must talk with terrorist groups because that’s the only way to stop the killing. Violence, he believed, can’t stop freedom fighters from doing what they believe is necessary. The response to this, obviously, is that it suggests that any group that uses violence will get a fair hearing, even those that didn’t get similar consideration when they employed peaceful means. In other words, peaceful overtures can sometimes be rebuffed but organized butchery will always be rewarded.

Jean Francois Revel wrote, “Clearly, a civilization that feels guilty for everything it is and does will lack the energy and conviction to defend itself.” Well, increasingly I can’t help but think that the liberals of Europe and the leftists of America (there’s still hope for our liberals) have lost the energy and the conviction to defend themselves. They cannot grasp that our enemies — especially those hailing from the Third World — cannot be reasoned with. It doesn’t matter if we wronged them in the past. It doesn’t matter if their historical grievances have weight. What matters, as a matter of pure survival and morality, is what they believe today and what they do because of those beliefs. Germany had any number of legitimate grievances about the Treaty of Versailles and its treatment at the hands of the victors in World War I. That doesn’t justify Nazism.

I don’t think the world’s entire Muslim population is akin to Nazis. I’m sure the vast majority are decent and honorable human beings. But they have in their midst a band of fanatics and murderers and it is indecent, dishonorable, and just plain stupid for them to support these fanatics. And, it is folly of a cataclysmic scale for us to think that we’re too good to do what’s necessary to destroy the evil we face.

It’s an interesting intellectual exercise — ask yourself what an imaginary enemy would have to believe and do for you to think that he couldn’t be reasoned with, and that therefore you had to do everything you could to defeat him, without regrets, up to and including wrapping his body in pigskin.

Would he have to murder women and children? Would he have to be willing to give his own life in the process? Would he have to believe that it wouldn’t merely be good to round up and murder whole categories of people, but that God actually commands him to do it? Perhaps, if you’re of a more liberal bent, you might think he’d need to believe that women should remain subservient and second-class. He’d have to be racist in some major way, to be sure. And, of course, you’d want our imaginary fanatic to believe that free expression was forbidden and that censorship was the responsibility of any legitimate state.

Somehow, I can see a few folks who fit the bill pretty well. But, then again, we pigs have pretty poor eyesight.


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