What's being desecrated here?

Diana West
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Posted: Jun 13, 2005 12:00 AM

Thank you, Michael Isikoff. Because of Newsweek's commode Quran story -- the one that went down the drain in a retraction -- a previously undisclosed threat to our very existence has been revealed. It may be too late to avert, but before admitting defeat, I just wish every American would take a good long moment to reflect, not on the hysterical headlines trumpeting "Quran abuse," but rather on the U.S. Army's Quranic Code of Conduct in place at Guantanamo Bay.

The orders aren't called that, of course, but that's as apt a title as any for the relevant sections of the officially titled "Detention Operations Group Standard Operating Procedures" that go for Gitmo. And, it bears repeating, every American should take a good long moment to reflect on what they mean.

Since all of Guantanamo's inmates happen to be members of the same famed band of Muslim extremists, the Army has seen fit to distribute Qurans. So far, so good, I guess. But the Army doesn't just distribute its Qurans like any other religious book. That is, the Bible may get passed around, riffled through, dropped, tossed and stuffed into hotel room drawers. But not the Quran. According to United States Army policy, the standard operating procedure is: "Handle the Quran as if it were a fragile piece of delicate art."

What's going on here? By official order, a whole lot of "respecting the dignity of the Quran." According to Section 6-5-c(3), should a Quran need to be removed from a detainee's cell -- you know, carried somewhere -- and the detainee is personally unable to move it (best option), and the Muslim chaplain, librarian and interpreter are also unable to move it (second-best option), then the U.S. Army guard, as a very last resort, may take action.

Then the insanity really begins. The guard is directed to don "clean gloves ... in full view of the detainees prior to handling." He must use "two hands ... at all times when handling the Quran in manner signaling respect and reverence." Why "respect" alone isn't abundantly sufficient isn't mentioned. While signaling two-handed respect and reverence, however, the guard must be mindful that "care should be used so that the right hand is the primary one used to manipulate any part of the Quran due to the cultural association with the left hand."
It goes on. There's more "reverent manner," more instructions for conveying the book inside a "clean, dry detainee towel." The cockeyed picture is clear. But it doesn't explain what's going on.

At first glance, this scene may seem to exemplify a bizarre excess of good manners, an absurdly obsequious respect for a largely foreign faith. Since when does the United States specifically direct its soldiers to show two-handed "reverence" in the handling of any religious book? But it seems to me that there's more behind this charade. The "clean gloves" and "detainee" towels are the tip-off. The fact is, under Islamic law, non-Muslims are deemed unfit to touch the Quran. That much is generally known. What is not usually considered is the reason: According to the Islamic law, we are unclean.

The term is "najis." On the multilingual Web site of the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Husseini al-Sistani, the leading Iraqi Shi'ite cleric, there is a catalogue of Islamic laws (www.sistani.org). This includes a list of "najis things." There are 10, beginning with an assortment of excretions and body fluids -- obvious stuff that really shouldn't need special mention. On the "najis" list with urine, feces, etc., are the pig, the dog and the "kafir." That means the Christian, the Jew, the unbeliever in Islam -- and, chances are, the Gitmo guard.

In effect, then, with its official policy of clean cloves and detainee towels, the United States military is promoting, enabling and accepting the Islamic concept of najis -- the unclean infidel -- a barbarous notion that has helped fuel the bloodlust of jihad and the non-Muslim subjugation of dhimmitude. Our soldiers are many things: self-sacrificing, bold, loyal and true. They are not unclean.

Is this political correctness run amok? Not exactly. It's something else again, a new threat from within that needs vigilant redress. P.C. is about victimology, the elevation of perceived victim groups to the canonical pantheon. The Gitmo rules are more blatantly about surrender, a voluntary self-extinguishment, a spreading condition of denial of what is right and worth standing for. Not what you expect from the United States Southern Command.