by H. Millard (c) 2003

There is an old story, told in many versions, about an Arab man whose toddler son was murdered by an older, but still young, Arab child. Years passed as the father of the murdered child quietly watched the killer of his child grow into manhood, eventually marry, and have a son of his own. When the murderer's own son reached the same age as the child he had murdered many years ago, the father of the murdered child kidnapped the toddler son of the killer of his child. The murdered child's father then took the toddler up to the roof of a house facing the home of the killer of his son, and yelled for the murderer to come out. Hearing his name called, the murderer came out of his home and looked up to the roof across the small alley. Then the father of the murdered son held up the murderer's son by one leg, took out his sword, cut the toddler in half and threw the body at the father's feet.

This grim story is from the world that the U.S. has entered in its attack on Iraq. It is a world with labyrinthine loyalties, codes, mores, and blood vengeance. It is a world where the Old Testament's eye for an eye measure of punishment--thought to be too harsh by Christians--is seen by many Arabs as too lenient. It is a world where a thief can have his hand cut off for stealing a loaf of bread. It is a world where the concept 'turn the other cheek' is alien. It is a world where blood relations are more than a nuclear family--a tiny rivulet of blood. Instead, blood relations branch and cross and branch again and again innumerable times and where the resulting extended families, clans, and tribes are like roaring rivers of intertwined relationships and loyalties as complex as any arabesque pattern.

Fred R. Anderson, PastorSheikh Abu Hamza al-Masri It is an untidy, by our lights, world where most people don't just give the expected lip service to a belief in God and then go sit bolt-upright, as if they are equal to God, on hard wooden benches for an hour a week to hear a corporate looking and sounding minister or priest talk about a plain wrap Americanized God in terms that are less about God and more about American views. Instead, the world we have entered is one where millions of people believe with every ounce of their beings that God exists and that every single word in the Koran is directly from God and was miraculously written down by Muhammed--who didn't know how to write.

Unlike the Bible, which is mostly a history book, the Koran is more a manual on how to submit to the will of God. To show submission, Muslims humble themselves by dropping to the ground five times a day to say prayers. It is a world where the wind whipped sand swirls around everything and where the whistling grains of sand rubbing against each other whisper the names of God to believers. It is a world of great complexity and difficulty.

"I don't think we're in Kansas anymore," is an apt line to describe, not only the harsh landscape, but the people of this part of the world. This is the place where three major religions--Judaism, Christianity, Islam--the desert religions--got their start. This is where the Garden of Eden was supposed to be. This is where the God of the Hebrews, the Christians and the Muslims was supposed to have actually talked to men.

JihadThere is little doubt that the U.S. can beat the Iraqis in direct orthodox warfare and in the short term. The problem is that the U.S. sense of history is very short. What will happen as the sands of time blow and swirl? Will we find ourselves in the shoes of the child murderer written about in the first paragraph above? Will we be patiently watched until the time is right for vengeance? Will we one day be called outside to watch as our civilization is killed before our eyes? Some would say that this attack on Iraq--a war that didn't have to happen, and one that we went thousands of miles away from our homeland to start--is a sign that our civilization is already dying.

Rockwell's  'Democracy'Once the U.S. brutalizes Iraq into submission, the Bushies will try to Americanize and transform the Iraqis into Middle East versions of aracial, plain wrap, corn-fed, apple pie eating, Norman Rockwell, standard model Americans. Of course, this type of American--an archetype, really--is in short supply even in America, because our land is being swamped by Third Worlders. But that's for other columns. Suffice it to say that while the aracial, plain wrap, corn-fed, apple pie eating Norman Rockwell, standard American is disappearing, the mythical image of this genetic type still remains in some form or another in the subconscious minds of many Americans. While the original genes of this archetype are being watered down, the products of those genes remain and are being taken over to one degree or another by people of other genes who, in many cases, seem to be the slowly fading, distorted shades of the originals.

Iraqi adapts to occupationEven though the Bushies will try to disguise the attempted Americanization of Iraq by using euphemistic phrases such as "The U.S. wants to free the Iraqi people and change that nation into a modern nation," it remains to be seen how may Iraqis will buy it. It doesn't take a genius to understand that "modern nation," when used by the Bushies, means a nation like the United States. We've heard this type of language, in various earlier incarnations, before. In the past, instead of saying that we were bringing modernity to different peoples, we would say that we were "bringing civilization." We then "helped" the "backward" American Indians, South Sea Islanders, Africans, Australian Aborigines and others to try be just like us. Will we be giving the Iraqis American haircuts? Will we be dressing them in American clothes? Will we rewrite the Koran so that Islam becomes as innocuous and bland as many forms of American Christianity? Will Allah become, like the Christian plain wrap version of God, something of a Mr. Rogers in the sky who is never judgmental?

Now, as I wrote in another column, we seem to live in a strange universe--strange, because our science has not yet discovered various unseen links and forces. Some believe that various unexplained phenomena--things that come within what we call extrasensory perception and things that are often relegated to religion are really the result of sub-atomic particles and that these are the source of coincidences, syncronicity and various odd occurrences. Whatever the cause, there are things that happen from time to time that cause many people to scratch their heads and wonder. As I wrote in that earlier column, one head scratcher was the "coincidence" of seeing a U.S. space shuttle, carrying the first Israeli astronaut, breaking up over Palestine, Texas. Israeli? Palestine? Texas? This week, U.S. Army Pfc. and POW Jessica Lynch was rescued from Iraq. Her hometown: Palestine, W. Va. Palestine? Another coincidence? Syncronicity? The cosmos sending a riddle that we can't figure out, or balancing scales in some unknown way? God sending a message that we don't understand? Superstitious nothings?

DuneLastly, what about Frank Herbert's series of novels about the planet Arrakis (sounds like Iraq) also known as Dune? It should be no surprise to anyone that Herbert studied and used Arab culture as a basis for much that is in Dune. And the complexity of the relationships, the changing loyalties, and more seem to be right out of the present situation in the Middle East. I don't want to go too far with Dune as a metaphor for the present conflict in Iraq, but...well, let's see how history unfolds before we start scratching our heads over this.

#  #  #


(Available at finer bookstores, by phone, or on the net)
The links appear to work on some software and not on others. If they don’t work, you can order via phone.

Roaming the Wastelands 1. ROAMING THE WASTELANDS
(ISBN: 0-595-22811-9)

NEW! JUST RELEASED! H. Millard’s latest sacred cow toppling book,
is now available at by clicking on the following link
or by calling 1-877-823-9235.

“A fun–and sobering–thing to read” Alamance Independent

The Outsider

(ISBN: 0-595-19424-9)
H. Millard’s underground classic story of alienation
is available at by clicking on the following link
or by calling 1-877-823-9235:

"Millard is an important writer" - New Nation News
"Millard is an original. His books aren't like your typical fiction. If you don't know where to put his books, try the same shelf with Kerouac, Kafka, Sartre and Nietzsche" - a reader.


Recommend this page to a friend