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Sunday, April 20, 2003

The Easter Sermon of St. John Chrysostom

In my opinion, unsurpassed. May you and yours have a blessed Easter! He is Risen, indeed!

Is there anyone who is a devout lover of God?
Let them enjoy this beautiful bright festival!
Is there anyone who is a grateful servant?
Let them rejoice and enter into the joy of their Lord!

Are there any weary with fasting?
Let them now receive their wages!
If any have toiled from the first hour,
let them receive their due reward;
If any have come after the third hour,
let him with gratitude join in the Feast!
And he that arrived after the sixth hour,
let him not doubt; for he too shall sustain no loss.
And if any delayed until the ninth hour,
let him not hesitate; but let him come too.
And he who arrived only at the eleventh hour,
let him not be afraid by reason of his delay.

For the Lord is gracious and receives the last even as the first.
He gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour,
as well as to him that toiled from the first.
To this one He gives, and upon another He bestows.
He accepts the works as He greets the endeavor.
The deed He honors and the intention He commends.

Let us all enter into the joy of the Lord!
First and last alike receive your reward;
rich and poor, rejoice together!
Sober and slothful, celebrate the day!

You that have kept the fast, and you that have not,
rejoice today for the Table is richly laden!
Feast royally on it, the calf is a fatted one.
Let no one go away hungry. Partake, all, of the cup of faith.
Enjoy all the riches of His goodness!

Let no one grieve at his poverty,
for the universal kingdom has been revealed.
Let no one mourn that he has fallen again and again;
for forgiveness has risen from the grave.
Let no one fear death, for the Death of our Savior has set us free.
He has destroyed it by enduring it.

He destroyed Hades when He descended into it.
He put it into an uproar even as it tasted of His flesh.
Isaiah foretold this when he said,
"You, O Hell, have been troubled by encountering Him below."

Hell was in an uproar because it was done away with.
It was in an uproar because it is mocked.
It was in an uproar, for it is destroyed.
It is in an uproar, for it is annihilated.
It is in an uproar, for it is now made captive.
Hell took a body, and discovered God.
It took earth, and encountered Heaven.
It took what it saw, and was overcome by what it did not see.
O death, where is thy sting?
O Hades, where is thy victory?

Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!
Christ is Risen, and the evil ones are cast down!
Christ is Risen, and the angels rejoice!
Christ is Risen, and life is liberated!
Christ is Risen, and the tomb is emptied of its dead;
for Christ having risen from the dead,
is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

To Him be Glory and Power forever and ever. Amen!

Thursday, April 10, 2003

Marine who put American flag on Saddam statue speaks.

Corporal Edward Chin says the Iraqis were far from offended by it:

[He] told CNN's Paula Zahn that the display of the American stars and stripes, and the subsequent removal of that flag and hanging of a pre-Gulf War Iraqi flag, were "more like a symbol that we were here to give (Iraqis) their country back."

"They wanted a flag on his head, the American flag," Chin said. "They brought it up to me and I put it on there for a brief moment.

"The Iraqi crowd, they were egging us on," he said. "They were happy to see us do it. We took it down after a brief moment and put their flag up."

More Carroll-ing.

Well, at least briefly.

Is Mohammed El-Baradei a complete idiot? Or just blind?

Investigators Tuesday discovered that Al-Tuwaitha hides another city. This underground nexus of labs, warehouses, and bomb-proof offices was hidden from the public and, perhaps, International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors who combed the site just two months ago, until the U.S. Marine Corps Combat Engineers discovered it three days ago.

Today, the Marines hold it against enemy counter-attacks.

So far, Marine nuclear and intelligence experts have discovered 14 buildings that betray high levels of radiation. Some of the readings show nuclear residue too deadly for human occupation.

A few hundred meters outside the complex, where peasants say the "missile water" is stored in mammoth caverns, the Marine radiation detectors go "off the charts."

"It's amazing," said Chief Warrant Officer Darrin Flick, the battalion's nuclear, biological and chemical warfare specialist. "I went to the off-site storage buildings, and the rad detector went off the charts. Then I opened the steel door, and there were all these drums, many, many drums, of highly radioactive material."

To nuclear experts in the United States, the discovery of a subterranean complex is highly interesting, perhaps the atomic "smoking gun" intelligence agencies have been searching for as Operation Iraqi Freedom unfolds.

Last fall, they say, the Central Intelligence Agency prodded international inspectors to probe Al-Tuwaitha for weapons of mass destruction. The inspectors came away with nothing.

"They went through that site multiple times, but did they go underground? I never heard anything about that," said physicist David Albright, a former IAEA Action Team inspector in Iraq from 1992 to 1997. Officials at the IAEA could not be reached for comment.

Applying what's been known as the 48 Hour Rule is sensible here: Wait 48 hours to see if there have been any WMD confirmations. So far, none of them have panned out after two days. This seems to be a slightly different breed of cat, though.

Moreover, this sure does raise some interesting questions. Such as, just precisely what high-tech detection devices were UN inspectors using?

Divining rods?

[Link via Christopher Johnson]
"James Carroll's column appears regularly in the Globe."

A phrase which should induce uncontrollable shuddering amongst sensible folk. Or at least an overpowering urge to reach for a barf bag.

The tedious apostate attempts to medicate his evident dismay about recent Coalition military successes with a discursive sequence of questions about the war and American policy in general. Think of it as the Socratic method meets the Metamucil-gobbling "Every War Is Vietnam--We Hope!" crowd meets the Royal Society for the Promotion of Moral Equivalence. Here's a Whitman's sampler:

Can aggressive war be waged by those who grasp the bottomless tragedy of the human condition, how every story -- whether one person's or a nation's -- ends in death? How every untimely death wounds the absolute, and how unnecessary death is itself the mortal enemy?

I'm not in a mood to let the NIONs of the world have the moral high ground right now. They don't deserve it. God knows they haven't earned it. In fact, this faux moralizing brings out the side of me that identified with the protagonists on Molly Hatchet album covers.

So, I'll keep it simple: Here's one question lobbed back at the Carroll Claque:

Why did you side with the captors, and not the captives?

[Second link via Mark Sullivan]

Tuesday, April 08, 2003

More Gurkhiana.

Victorino Matus over at The Weekly Standard has an article about the Gurkhas in Iraq, including a description of their last visit to the region in 1914.

Mark Sullivan offers this fine article by the same author about the deployment of the Brigade in Afghanistan. The Gurkhas were eager to take the field:

Asked how they like it in the desert, some of them complain that it is hot, but add, "We are enjoying it here." The temperature is about 115 degrees. And what do they think about the latest crisis? One rifleman told a reporter from The Mirror, "The attack on America was very sad and many lives were lost. It was terrible to watch on television. So I would love to go to Afghanistan to fight." He went on to say, "From what I have read, the Taliban are bad people, so the fight would be very just. I would even ask to go first."

Like I said, on our side.

Thursday, April 03, 2003

SARS Comes to Michigan.

There are two suspected cases in the State, according to local physicians. Given our border with Ontario, I suspected we'd get something before now.

The Detroit News has also assembled a handy primer on the virus, including a map of where the cases are in the U.S. The bottom line is that panic is unwarranted:

Scary as SARS is, he [University of Michigan epidemiologist Dr. Arnold Monto] notes, we should all be grateful it's not a killer influenza -- as initially feared -- that's made its way out of China across the globe.

The flu transmits easily in aerosolized form through the air, he says, making for much more widespread, lightning-quick contagion.

SARS, by contrast, seems to travel poorly through the air, and generally only in "large drops" that a coughing or sneezing person ejects.

While those can be inhaled by somebody standing very close, they usually only project out about three feet, Monto says, at which point they drop to the floor. While much is still unknown about this illness, that suggests it would be unlikely to spread through ventilation systems. The upshot, Monto adds, is that SARS' spread can be slowed, where that might be next to impossible with a killer flu.

"Obviously, there's much that's still being learned," says Geralyn Lasher, spokesman at the Michigan Department of Community Health. "Since it's obviously been very serious in some parts of the world, we're taking a very cautious approach. But all the cases in Michigan are doing well and improving."

Health writer Michael Fumento also has a valuable perspective, although his report about the effectiveness of older antivirals appears to be inaccurate.
Medpundit regularly posts updates about the disease, so keep checking.

Finally, why the Chinese may have had such difficulty in containing the outbreak: the appalling misuse of "medicine" by the totalitarian regime instilled an understandable phobia toward doctors in ordinary Chinese:

Not very long ago — within the past five years, let's say — an American businessman of my acquaintance, a leading figure in the health-care field, was approached by an authoritative official of the Chinese government with a truly fabulous offer. How would the American like to set up a nationwide network of clinics, under his own name and with clear American identification? He would provide the medicine, the staff, the doctors, the technology. The Chinese would provide the money, the land, the labor force to build the clinics, and guarantee a substantial profit for at least a decade.

The American was impressed; who wouldn't be? And of course he was curious. Why were they being so generous?

The answer helps understand why it took so long for the Chinese to fess up to the existence of the new Viral pneumonia. The Chinese official put it this way: "we are having a terrible time getting people to see doctors, even for routine physical checkups. And this is because of an event that took place back in the late 1940s, following Mao's revolution. At that time, the government promised to eradicate venereal disease in China. And it did. Everyone was forced to undergo an examination by a certified doctor. And anyone with venereal disease was executed. Ever since, most Chinese stayed far away from medical doctors."

Wednesday, April 02, 2003

Sad non-war news.

Mr. Noodle is dead. My daughter loves that segment on Sesame Street, too.

Michael Jeter died at age 50, six years after disclosing he had HIV. Best known for the "Evening Shade" television show, for my money, his best work was in a film too few people saw: The Fisher King.

Jeter played a "Homeless Cabaret Singer" (so sayeth the credits, but I thought his character had a name) to tragicomic perfection. His scene-stealing moment involved his character delivering a singing telegram to the would-be lady-love of Robin Williams' character.

In drag.

With his thick Civil War general-style mustache.

Dancing on a desk.

Belting out a pitch-perfect impression of Ethel Merman.

Did I mention it was a Terry Gilliam film?

Well, it happens to be my favorite film of all time, so go out and rent it in tribute to an underrated character actor. For you Catholics (and others) leery of R-rated films (it earned it, for language and some non-gratuitous but disturbing violence), it involves the Holy Grail, a quest for redemption, and multiple examples of self-sacrifice. It's also side-splittingly funny in parts, to boot.

Go get it.
Enter the Gurkhas.

The storied Nepali warriors have arrived in Iraq.

"In the last two years we've been everywhere the British Army's been, from East Timor to Afghanistan," Major Stevens said.

Their reputation is also tethered to their "ethos" -- adherence to a strict, self-imposed code of honor and discipline.

"We must be loyal, honest, well-trained," explained a rifleman standing in front of perfectly arranged cots flush and grounded at their encampment here. "We are very experienced, especially in jungle warfare."

A more recognizable trademark is their long and lethal Kukri knife, a symbol of their legacy and lethality.

The Gurkhas are working with the four agencies already securing this base, including Security Forces, RAF and Ministry of Defense Police and local constabularies.

"We're very happy to be working with the MOD police and U.S. Forces," a Gurkha rifleman said. "We are not sure about the conflict with Iraq and we don't know what will happen, but we're here now and we're happy to help."

God help the Fedayeen.

Here's a good source for Gurkha links.

This is the official British Army website for the Brigade of Gurkhas, complete with an explanation of the famous kukri knives.

My favorite story about the Gurkhas is almost certainly apocryphal, but accurately depicts the loyalty and courage of these men. The story says the British were expanding their paratrooper divisions, and were seeking recruits. The obvious choice was to ask the Gurkhas. A British company commander agreed, and assembled his Gurkha unit, confident that most, if not all, would volunteer. He explained to the soldiers that the Army was seeking volunteers for these new units, and explained that they would undergo risky 1000ft plus airdrops behind enemy lines. To the officer's shock, only about half stepped forward to volunteer. The Gurkha sergeant was also surprised, and queried the men himself. He quickly came back, and told the officer to ask again. Puzzled, the officer complied. This time, the entire unit stepped forward.

"I told them they would get parachutes," the sergeant explained.

Another version of this story is told here.

Relax. They're on our side.
Operational Pause.

The blogging interruption was the result of workload and two small children not sleeping at the appointed time.

There is a very good likelihood of another pause occurring soon.

Monday, March 31, 2003

Interesting evidence about the Baghdad market bombing.

Jed Babbin reports there's no impact crater:

We inventory such things, and one of ours didn't go there. All of those we launched, dropped, or fired are accounted for, and it's pretty clear that none hit the market.

* * *

The folks at No Such Agency apparently have a picture of the spot the bombing occurred, and there's one really telling piece of evidence. Or rather, there isn't. There's no crater in the ground. I didn't do very well in college physics, but I am pretty sure that a 500 or 1,000 pound bomb--far less a bigger one--which is falling at several hundred miles an hour, is gonna make a big hole in the ground when it hits, and a much bigger one when it explodes. The crater left by bombs of that size are usually at least ten feet deep and twenty or thirty feet across. In the Baghdad bombings, there are no craters.

I've also heard that both bombings were, remarkably enough, in Shia neighborhoods in Baghdad.
Grim reports related to our POWs.

Shallow grave with four mutilated bodies discovered near torture "hospital" now held by Marines.

At least one of the bodies of the four American soldiers discovered in a shallow grave was "brutalized and mutilated," Pentagon sources revealed yesterday.

The corpses were unearthed in the vicinity of the "hospital" at Nasiriyah where U.S. Marines found evidence that the Iraqis had operated a torture chamber.

Military officials are now investigating whether there is any connection between the hospital and the fate of at least 12 members of a U.S. Army mechanical unit that disappeared last Sunday.

* * *

"We're not sure who it is [in the graves] at this point," said Maj. Gen. Stanley McChrystal.

U.S. forensics experts and mortuary personnel are now trying to determine the identities of the dead soldiers. But officials fear the worst.

Inside the hospital, the shocked Marines found bloodied pieces of an American female soldier's uniform. Her name badge and American flag were missing.

Now, investigators believe that the hospital was a den of horror rather than healing and was used by the fanatical Feyidah militia as a staging area and headquarters. Inside, the leathernecks found one room that was equipped with a bed and a car battery, indicating that it was used to electrically torture prisoners.

The Iraqis are refusing to let the International Red Cross see the American POWs.

Jed Babbin at NRO connects the tragic dots:

The reason is almost certain. Many have been tortured and killed. We don't know if any are still alive.

Keep praying for them and their families.

Saturday, March 29, 2003

Good News from...............France!

No, there isn't a radon problem here. Why do you ask?

A few pieces showing that the spirit of resistance is not quite dead in Petai--er, Chirac's France.

No, not all Frenchmen are in the bag. Novelist Pascal Bruckner, philosopher Andre Glucksman and filmmaker Romain Goupil published a letter in Le Monde supporting the overthrow of Hussein (the translation is a little spotty, but you get the idea).

Doctors Without Borders founder Bernard Kouchner, while generally speaking opposed to the war, supports the overthrow of Hussein.

Even a prominent member of Chirac's party, Alain Madelin, called for France to support the U.S. position on Iraq:

In a move that surprised many politicians, Alain Madelin, a former minister of industry and member of President Jacques Chirac's conservative party, challenged the prevailing mood in Paris by calling for support of Washington and its war plans.
In what appeared to be an answer to those members of the European Parliament who last week brandished placards saying, "No War," and "No war for oil," Mr. Madelin said:
"The United Nations has never distinguished itself by an ability to act. Our place today is at the side of the Americans to free the Iraqi people.
"Iraq's liberation would give the region hope for more freedom and prosperity," he added. "It would put pressure on authoritarian regimes, induce the Palestinians to abandon terrorism and open the way to a settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian problem."

Finally, an example of cultural resistance, in the heart of Vichy Paris.

The spirit of the Maquis lives on.

[Thanks to Mark Cameron for the heads-up.]
Al Reutera gripes about media bias.

Irony...overload...must get...antidote..........

Ah, that's better. You see: it's pro-America media bias that's the problem. Welcome to Bizarro World. This from the "news" service that doesn't use the term "terrorist" and says al Qaeda is "allegedly" behind the 9/11 attacks. Note that there apparently isn't a problem with al-Jazeera cheerleading for jihad, or circulating death porn for the Arab street:

I have confirmed that the Al-Jazeera tape, all twelve minutes of it, is merely an excerpt of the hour-long version being shown regularly in Egypt and elsewhere. The short version shows the interrogation of some U.S. soldiers and the defamed dead bodies of others. The longer version includes all that, plus the murders and later abuse and mutilation of the bodies. Apparently, the whole thing is out there on the internet.

Nah, no problem with that. Reporters wearing flags: that's the real atrocity!

Enjoy Mr. Spiegelman's alternate universe commentary. Just make sure you have a salt lick handy--a mere grain will not suffice.
Fr. Joseph Wilson has loosed the cannonade.

Against the peaceniks of the Diocese of Brooklyn:

Fr. Wilson received the following message today from an official of the Brooklyn diocese:

"Please include this in your Mass announcements this Sunday: "'Everyone is invited to a Mass for the Restoration of Peace at Holy Trinity Church on Tuesday at 5PM. Father Latona, the Pastor, will be Celebrant.'"

Well, that did it. Fr. Wilson, who has just had it with pious peacenikery in this time of great peril, sent out the following fax to all the parishes that had received the first:

"Faithful Sons and Daughters of the Church are invited to Saint Luke's Church on Monday evening, 7:15PM, for a Mass, Holy Hour and Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament, imploring the intercession of our Lady of Lepanto for the safety of our armed forces. The Holy Rosary, which once turned back those who would destroy Christian civilization, will be prayed before Mass."

[Via Rod Dreher]

Friday, March 28, 2003

Good (!) News from Canada--Part II.

Premiers of Alberta and Ontario speak out in favor of the United States.

[As to the rest of the story, it appears that the Triple L loudmouth did indeed say "So did," and not "Screw." Given the article's description of his history of boob-like, vaguely anti-American comments, such confusion is understandable.]
Good (!) News from Canada--Part I.

Canadians plan large rallies in support of the United States over the next few weeks. The planners are more than a little cheesed with Chretien's government:

One of the group's unofficial slogans -- "the voice of the heretofore silent majority" -- means for Ms. Tabb "being able to give meat to that voice. I want to send a message to the current [Canadian] government that they are misrepresenting many people and to the U.S. government that Canadians are being misrepresented."

Ms. Tabb, who is married to a Canadian and a landed immigrant, said she just recently hung her U.S. flag at her home, and was wondering, only half-seriously, if she would soon find "eggs on my window."

That sort of tentativeness had no place at yesterday's meeting. As speaker after speaker said, "We're proud of our relationship with the United States."

Mr. Cooper said he was most embarrassed by the anti-American tone in the country. It's one thing, he said, for Canada to decide not to send troops to fight alongside Americans. "So send field hospitals then," he snapped. "Send medical aid. Send a message of support to our friends."

Bravo! And more importantly: thanks.
Why no mass uprisings?

The surprising answer is, in part, that we are actively discouraging them:

In recent months, the U.S. war planners have been discouraging the Iraqi population from any uprising and trying the keep the Iraqi opposition forces off the battlefield. At a summit in Ankara earlier this month, Zalmay Khalilzad, President Bush’s special envoy to the Iraqi opposition, firmly declared Washington’s “no uprisings” strategy to the Kurdish, Shiite, and Sunni Iraqi opposition leaders. “The lesson Tommy Franks got from the Afghan campaign last year is that it is risky to work with indigenous groups. He does not want to do that again,” one insider told me. As the thinking goes, uprisings across the country would not just “complicate” the military planning, but turn off potential allies inside the regime by stressing the exiled Iraqi opposition’s role. That, in turn, might alienate both alienate the Sunni elite in Baghdad and Iraq’s military commanders who might switch sides as the operation unfolds.

So the United States is set to liberate Iraq without the participation of Iraqis? Precisely, it seems.

“We were told that the coalition forces do not want to see any uprisings in major cities,” said a leading member of the exiled opposition group Iraqi National Congress who took part in the meetings in Ankara. INC has a vast network of informants in the southern areas of Iraq and in and around Baghdad, but its leadership, now based in northern Iraq, had no formal contact with CENTCOM until the fifth day of the war, when a CENTCOM liaison officer finally arrived at the group’s headquarters in the northern city of Suleimaniye.

Like the decision to leave Iraqi state TV on the air, this sure looks like a mistake. Hopefully, just like the decision to end IrTV's broadcast day, I hope it gets reversed soon. It makes no sense to adhere to this policy, especially when it's being turned against us by the Fedayeen.
Is "Just War" doctrine headed for a "developmental" tune-up?

As in developing into pacifism? If you listen to Archbishop Renato "America is Pharaoh" Martino, the answer is a disturbing "Yes." According to the WSJ's William McGurn:

Of far more concern, at least to papal admirers such as yours truly, is that the war statements appear to reflect not simply a disagreement over Iraq but a strain in John Paul's thinking that sits uncomfortably with 1,500 years of Catholic teaching on the legitimate use to force--a teaching, moreover, that asks not when authorities have the "right" to use force but when they have the obligation.

John Paul's unease over the state's use of force was perhaps first evident in his earlier treatment of the death penalty: that while it may be acceptable in principle, the state now has alternatives that make it all but impossible to justify in practice.

The linkage is not only mine. In recent interviews, Archbishop Renato Martino, head of the Pontifical Council for Peace and Justice, explicitly says that classic just-war teaching may now be headed the way of the death penalty. When the National Catholic Register asked the archbishop if he meant by this that "there is no such thing as a just war anymore," his answer was unequivocal: "Absolutely."
The pope has not gone this far. But neither has he repudiated the more fantastic claims by Vatican officials.

What's next? "Developments" regarding the [former] right/obligation to defense of self, family and others?

After all, there is no real logical distinction. It's at times like these I am haunted by the words of C.S. Lewis:

In this essay, “Christian Reunion” (Christian Reunion and Other Essays, ed. Walter Hooper, London: Collins, 1990 p.17 at p.19) Lewis stated that:

"The real reason why I cannot be in communion with you [Roman Catholics] is not my disagreement with this or that Roman doctrine, but that to accept your Church means, not to accept a given body of doctrine, but to accept in advance any doctrine your Church hereafter produces. It is like being asked to agree not only to what a man has said but also to what he is going to say."

[Link via Amy Welborn.]

Thursday, March 27, 2003

Only female POW is Catholic.

Shoshana Johnson's mother says she made sure her daughter had her Rosary with her:

[Stone] Phillips: “You know her better than anyone. What do you think she’s doing to help her get through this?”
Eunice Johnson: “She is praying. She’s praying everyday and every time. And that’s gonna get her through. She’s asking God. I know... I know in my heart because she had a rosary with her. She forgot it. This was the day that she was being deployed. And she called me and she said, ‘I left my rosary, you know, on the dresser upstairs in my house.’ And I had to go back home and get it. So, I’m hoping that she has that rosary with her.”
Phillips: “Her faith is important—
Eunice Johnson: “Yes.”
Phillips: “— to her?”
Eunice Johnson: “Yes. And I know she’s praying... When it falls night time in Iraq I think of her in a little cell by herself and it’s dark, it’s black. And there’s no kind of communication so that’s where I know that she’s communicating with God.”

The Johnsons say they haven't told Shoshana's daughter that her mom has been captured.

Pray for all of our POWs and their families.
At the intersection of Woodward and Tikrit: Hussein and Detroit's Chaldeans.

I strongly recommend this excellent WSJ article from yesterday's first page about the complex but generally deteriorating relationship between Saddam and local Iraqi Catholics:

Sacred Heart Church on Seven Mile Road is the church Saddam Hussein built.

In 1980, Reverend Jacob Yasso flew to Baghdad and met with Mr. Hussein, who wanted to help Iraqi Christians who had come to America. That year, Mr. Hussein sent $1.5 million to cover the church's debt and build a social hall and day-care center.

Last Friday night, 450 parishioners gathered at Sacred Heart for a service. They prayed for Mr. Hussein's overthrow. They also prayed for a miracle -- that loved ones who disappeared in Iraq during the dictator's reign would be found alive after the war.

Father Yasso says more than half of the parish's 1,200 families have missing loved ones in Iraq. The 70-year-old Iraqi-born priest says he decided Mr. Hussein was "evil" in the years following his meeting with the ruler, as newcomers to his church told their stories about the regime. "I shook his hand in 1980," he says. "Now, he is the devil."

* * *

Detroit's Iraqi community, the largest in the U.S., is made up mostly of Chaldean Roman Catholics, who began arriving here a century ago. Chaldeans, a non-Arab ethnic group who speak Aramaic, constitute about 5% of Iraq's population. About 15,000 Detroit Iraqis are Shiite Muslims, members of Iraq's majority religious group. Most of these Shiites fled Iraq in recent years to escape persecution from Mr. Hussein, who leads the secular Baath Party but is a member of the Sunni Muslim minority. Starting in about 1982, the U.S. viewed Mr. Hussein, then fighting a war with Iran, as a strategic partner. U.S. efforts to maintain relations with him continued until he invaded Kuwait in 1990.

Until recently, many of Detroit's Chaldeans and Muslims feared speaking out against Mr. Hussein, frightened of reprisals against their relatives in Iraq. Now, emboldened by the war, they're more vocal. Several Iraqi-American groups say they plan to seek a full accounting of their missing loved ones after the war. They envision open trials, input from U.S. law groups and Internet databases cataloging the missing. They're also debating whether lower-level officials in Iraq should be held accountable for the disappearances they oversaw.

* * *

As Iraqis here become more outspoken, some simmering tensions within the community are surfacing. Members of the Iraqi Democratic Union of America, a longtime anti-Hussein group of Chaldeans based in suburban Detroit, say several thousand local Iraqis have supported the dictator over the years. If those people are invited to help in reconstruction, the Democratic Union and other activists say they will protest. Still, Nabil Roumayah, an officer in the group, says he is forgiving of church leaders who took Mr. Hussein's money early in his regime, "when not a lot of people saw through Saddam."

Those who knew of the regime's tyranny often kept quiet. Souad Mansour, 52, says she was scared to mention publicly that her brother and sister disappeared two decades ago. Family members in Iraq, she says, "always told me, 'Don't open your mouth in America, because they'll kill us.' " Now, the former Kmart clerk clutches black-and-white photos of her missing siblings, Tamader and Khalid, and speaks of her brother's sharp intelligence and her sister's green eyes.

Tamader was abducted from her engineering job in 1979 after she criticized the regime. Khalid, a college student who Ms. Mansour says had compared Mr. Hussein with Adolf Hitler, disappeared a year later. Ms. Mansour believes that if her siblings weren't killed early on, they were murdered in recent years to ease prison overpopulation.

Rumors about the missing are common in Detroit's Iraqi community, with some members saying the people who've disappeared may emerge as bargaining chips by Mr. Hussein's regime. For many people, the uncertainty over loved ones can be debilitating. Among Detroit's Iraqi Shiite refugees, many of whom were tortured themselves, "a sizable number are suffering from extreme emotional depression," says Hassan Jaber of the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services.

Father Yasso often counsels refugees who are new to Sacred Heart. He says a mother and daughter-in-law told him they had asked to see their loved one in an Iraqi jail. A few hours later, authorities knocked on their door. "You asked to see your son? Here is your son," the mother was told. The man had been chopped into seven pieces. Another body part was given to the wife. "Here is your husband."

If, for some reason, you needed any further reason to pray for our Iraqi brothers and sisters, you now have it.

To end on a "stranger than fiction" note, ABC-7 here reported last night that Saddam's charitable endeavors amongst local Chaldeans earned him the key to the City of Detroit from then-Mayor Coleman Young (scroll down to click on the story, which requires RealPlayer to access).

Wednesday, March 26, 2003

Hockey and the War, Part II.

Wayne Gretzky recently made several comments supporting the war in Iraq. Apparently this got some Edmontonian's panties in a bunch, leading to a "U$ Lackey" graffito on the Gretzky statue.

Earlier this week, Gretzky praised Bush as a great leader, saying he backed him 100 percent. However, Gretzky also shied away from criticizing Canada's decision to stay out of the conflict.

"The reality is, you know, the people we should be concerned about are the people fighting in Iraq, the people who are there on the missions,'' Gretzky said Tuesday.

"We shouldn't be worried about what entertainers or athletes or Wayne Gretzky or Don Cherry says. It's immaterial.''

Luckily for the vandal, Dave "Cement Head" Semenko wasn't around to see it happen.
Official Warning: The next person who tells me a Polish joke gets punched.

According to this story, Poles are dogged supporters of their troops, the United States and the war to overthrow Saddam.

Poland recently sent 200 soldiers to Iraq, including highly trained special GROM forces, the equivalent of the British SAS and SBS. So far they have been active around Umm Qasr and are working to prevent war saboteurs from blowing up oil installations on the coast. I know this because the exploits of GROM are being followed obsessively by the local media. There was practically a national celebration when Donald Rumsfeld singled Poland out at a news briefing, saying the United States was "especially grateful for the involvement of the armed forces of Great Britain, Australia and Poland." When Major-General Victor Renuart announced Monday that the GROM forces in the Gulf had been "very active and excellent," it too made national headlines. As of this evening both statements are being repeated hourly on the news, and run without pause on Polish rolling news bars. The pride is palpable.

* * *

The support for the boys in GROM is reflected in the general coverage of the war. Polish news is unwavering in its support of the progress of the troops. Local commentators constantly emphasize that the United States is making a conscious decision to run a humanitarian campaign to avoid both Iraqi civilian casualties and casualties among their own troops. There is respect for the way the Americans are fighting, a sense that they are doing a difficult job while trying to cause the least "collateral damage" possible.

There's even an envious swat at Canada:

Yesterday at Warsaw University I asked a local student why Poland was so supportive of the United States. "Which other country is going to spend US$340-billion on defence every year -- Europe? France? Never!" he said. "Every time something serious happens in the world the United States is expected to sort it out." As ever, I was mistaken for an American, but when I told him I was, in fact, Canadian his tone changed. "Your country can afford to be anti-war -- you are right next to the U.S." he said. "I really don't understand Canada," he continued. "I wish we could cut Poland off the map and put it where you live. Canadians are spoilt. It is the luckiest country in the world."
Welcome to St. Eero Catholic Community.

The "renovation" of the Blessed Sacrament Cathedral in Detroit has been completed.

Here's a photo sampler. Can you tell what's new?


It was designed by a disciple of Finnish architect Eero Saarinen named Gunnar Birkets. Mr. Birkets is not Catholic, and his stated goal was to bring the Gothic cathedral into the modern world. Precisely the wrong approach, as I see it.

I'm going to see it in person before I say more.
America's Vatican-Conferred Badge of Honor.

Strangely enough, I beginning to think that the ferocious criticism of America regarding the war coming out of Rome is actually a sign of favor.

Bear with me. Ponder this: What other nation is the recipient of such ferocious criticism? Who else has been called "Pharaoh"? The answers--no other, and no one.

Only America.

Consider the savage Russian campaign against the Chechens. Vatican condemnations? Zilch. Why? Well, it can't antagonize the Russians over genocide in Chechnya--that would cause Moscow to deny passports to our priests. And you can permanently flush the slim hopes of a pontifical visit to Russia under those circumstances.

What about China? Plenty to criticize there: the occupation and ethnic cleansing of Tibet, the continuing occupation of territory taken from India during the 1963 war, the brutalization of various other ethnic groups. Don't get me started about forced abortions, either. Response from Rome? Crickets. Why? Well, protests would lead to the underground Church taking it on the chin, and a sharp limitation of contacts with the Patriotic Church, too.

What about the assorted/sordid Muslim tyrants and their atrocities? Saddam Hussein got the kid glove treatment from Rome. Ditto the Syrians, whose head optometrist Bashar Assad trotted out the-Jews-as-Christ-killers canard in the presence of the Pope, who did not respond. Why? Well, confronting such tyrants means the dhimmis will pay for it.

But America....America will do nothing to its Catholic minority. Its government will not respond with anything other than mild unofficial irritation--if that. Therefore, that makes it a country Rome can denounce with impunity. It's a safe nation to criticize.

Since it seems that Rome only berates those who won't cause trouble for the faithful, we as Americans ought to feel honored by that. Wear it with pride.

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Hockey and the War.

Yet another strange intersection. For those of you unwashed heathens unfamiliar with the NHL, there is a Saturday evening tradition amongst Our Neighbors To The North™ called Hockey Night in Canada. HNIC is the Canadian national campfire, (sorta) uniting the country around the national pastime. Three games are broadcast, depending upon region: in Quebec, the faithful watch the storied Habs, in Ontario, the Maritimes and other parts slightly west, the viewers are subjected to the also-storied but hapless Maple Laffs (1967!), and heading out to the Pacific region, the folks get the even more hapless Canucks (who are actually a very good team this year).

But all viewers are united in watching a regular feature of HNIC: Coach's Corner. CC features the flamboyant and outspoken former Boston Bruins coach, Don Cherry. He of the three-inch starched collars, Cherry weighs in on multiple subjects around the game, playing off accomplished straight man and would-be voice of reason, Ron MacLean.

To call Don un-PC would be an understatement. He is a vocal proponent of fighting in the game, arguing somewhat persuasively that it keeps the dirty players honest. He also lambastes the presence of European players in the game, arguing that, by and large, they aren't tough enough to play the North American game. This has changed somewhat of late, and Cherry has admitted that he admires some of the gritter players from Europe. He has even smacked American players around, but this is largely done for nose-pulling humor, as it's pretty clear he thinks the Yanks play the game right (having learned it from Canadians and not, say, the Finns) and play almost as well as the Canadian lads do.

Nothwithstanding his occasional razzing of Americans (it peaks, not coincidentally, around the Winter Olympics and the Canada Cup), he genuinely likes America and Americans. It was pretty obvious that it was good-natured razzing, especially considering that his late wife Rose was American, and he spent his best run coaching here in the States.

Moreover, he even likes our foreign policy, and expressed his anger about Canadians booing the Star-Spangled Banner and failing to support their friends to the south on last week's Coach's Corner:

The popular Coach's Corner segment began with Cherry commenting on Montreal Canadiens fans booing the American national anthem last Thursday before a game against the New York Islanders.

Cherry, wearing one of his signature flamboyant ties -- a sparkly one in the colours of the American flag -- did not initially want to get on the topic of war, but after MacLean told him that: "everybody wants to know what you think," Cherry reluctantly complied.

Cherry began his near-seven-minute tirade by apologizing to the U.S. on behalf of Canadians, saying that "years of pride went down the drain" with the Montreal fans' behaviour on Thursday.

The Coach's Corner tandem did not agree on the war in Iraq.

Cherry berated MacLean about being neutral on the subject, then slammed the Canadian government for its "lack of support to our American friends."

"I hate to see them go it alone. We have a country that comes to our rescue, and we're just riding their coattails," Cherry said.

Listen to the whole thing here (March 22 broadcast). What is interesting is that CBC does not say that the majority of the communications they received about the segment were negative. Given that the Ceeb had perfect motive and opportunity to do so, I think the omission is telling. Even the ombudsman said there were only a "handful" of complaints. Perhaps there's more support for the U.S. up north than we're hearing about.

The only question I have is this: Where can I get that necktie?

[Link via Damian Penny and Relapsed Catholic.]

Monday, March 24, 2003

Next, they'll fly the Man United fans over to Paris on holiday.

"And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here...."

The Sun, the fiery pro-American and anti-French British tabloid, commissioned a daring--and decidedly unique--daytime raid on a French military vessel moored in the Thames.

[Link via The Corner.]
More Unilateralism.

Elite commando unit from Poland has engaged in combat in Iraq:

The Defense Ministry had denied that GROM (Thunder) special forces were involved in combat, but on Monday it confirmed their participation after dailies splashed photographs of the soldiers in the Iraqi port of Umm Qasr, where U.S.-led troops are battling pockets of Iraqi resistance.

* * *

GROM is an SAS-style commando unit which has seen recent action in Afghanistan. It is one of the few highly trained units in Poland's armed forces, which are mostly underfunded and still rely on outdated Soviet-era equipment.

Poland, a NATO member whose government has supported the tough U.S. line against Baghdad, sent 200 troops to the Gulf in what they originally said was a supporting, non-combat, role.

The Reuters photographs showed masked GROM soldiers taking prisoners, scrawling graffiti on a portrait of Saddam and posing with U.S. Navy Seals holding up a U.S. flag.

"These photos shouldn't have happened," said Szmajdzinski. "The next time it will definitely be with the Polish flag."

It makes me wonder how much more under-the-table help we might be getting.

[Link via Clayton Cramer, whose sentiments are spot on.]
There is no moral difference between terrorists with capital cities and terrorists without them.

None. Too bad Catholic officialdom is incapable of understanding this.

This was the Hanson family, incinerated on the way to California on September 11, 2001. Sadly, the first time I ever heard of them was through James Lileks' powerful essay. Take a good, long hard look at the Hansons, smiling for a family Christmas picture.

It caused me to tear up, for some reason.

If you can't understand the connection between the war in Iraq and the war on terror, I have precious little insight into how I can persuade you. I'm not talking about the connections between Iraq and al Qaeda, nor the connection between Iraq and terrorism in the U.S., though such evidence exists for those who have ears to hear.

No, this connection is of a different sort. It is visceral. It is one that screams that men who put other men who oppose or offend them into industrial shredders are--like those who incinerate toddlers--terrorists, pure and simple. The sole difference between such terrorists and the Al Qaeda brand being that the shredders are terrorists fortunate enough to squat on resources sufficient to build palaces by the dozen and send official representatives to be courted by a hundred-plus nations around the globe.

It is the similarities are far, far, far more important. The most obvious identity between the Baathist shredders and the bin Ladenist slashers is that neither group is fit to share the globe with civilized human beings, let alone possess or develop weapons that can butcher human beings by the thousands (or orders of magnitude worse). Imagine what evil Qusay or evil Uday could do with a nuke. If that possibility doesn't make you shudder--well, bluntly, you need a swift kick in the ass.

Frankly, I have lost my ability to understand those who persist in making the distinction between Saddam and bin Laden.

For my co-religionists who flog such distinctions, especially moral equivalence-promoting prelates like Cardinal Etchegaray and Bishop Gumbleton, I have little to say. Such men are spinning moral compasses and have to be disregarded accordingly. The official silence on atrocities against Americans (or Israelis, Cardinal...) makes their pronouncements worthy of contempt. Frankly, the official Catholic solicitude for the Baathist tyranny is one of the most infuriating aspects of the past few months. The fact the national socialist regime in Baghdad allows Catholics to celebrate Christmas makes it indistinguishable from its annihilated Berlin cousin. Such sops offered to beleaguered Chaldeans shouldn't convert the regime into a dialogue partner, for the love of God. Don't the people of Iraq, Chaldeans included, deserve better? Just how does the Vatican think non-Christian Iraqis are going to look at their Christian compatriots once this is over? "Wow, your leaders were such a help, Ahmad. A real voice for freedom. About that representation in a federalist state...."

The invective over Iraq is, sadly, Eurospeak. It is morally indistinguishable from the oily dissembling of a de Villepin or Chirac. I have filed it away in the appropriate location. It will take buildings crashing down in their cities--killing those they love--to wake them up.

Perhaps. I fear even that won't suffice....

No matter. When it comes down to it, the tut-tuttings of a Gumbleton, Martino, Etchegaray or protesters who toe the same line will not deter the likes of bin Laden or the Husseins or the Kim dynasty, the last of which is reportedly watching the war with concern. The platitudes will not protect my wife, daughter or son. The treacly interfaith prayer meetings will not bring them back if they are killed.

The force of allied arms can't bring back anyone either. But it can do a damn sight better of protecting them from all kinds of terrorists.

Even those that have U.N. seats.