WASHINGTON, D.C. -- "All we are saaaaying is give peace a chance" -- have the charmed crowds that turn out to hear Sen. Jean-Francois Kerry, the peace candidate, begun singing this old ditty from peace movements of yore?
Frankly, I am somewhat surprised to see how rapidly the cranks and nostalgists who initially opposed our military action in Iraq found themselves in the company of a large chunk of the Democratic Party. Yet here we go again, and this year the Democrats' peace candidate does not even have the eloquence or the ideological rigor of yesteryear's Gene McCarthy or George McGovern.
There is another difference. The Cold War's peace movement could claim the Soviet Union was "on the right side of history." The peace movement today can hardly claim that Washington's adversaries are on the right side of history, unless history is headed in reverse.
The Middle Eastern thugs who slaughter their countrymen, kidnap and behead foreigners, and display their victims in cages have more in common with the Emir of Bokhara of 250 years ago than with modern communist despots. Even the grisly Fidel Castro has never publicly bragged about his torture cells, and he has always had the public relations savvy to keep public executions to a minimum. The Emir of Bokhara might actually have served as a role model for the brute killers now at large in Iraq -- for instance, Abu Musab Zarqawi. He is the bespectacled Islamofascist who personally beheaded Nicholas Berg in May and more recently Eugene Armstrong and Jack Hensley, all three being non-combatants merely going about the business of rebuilding of Iraq.
Behind the mud walls of the Khanate of Bokhara in Central Asia, the emir maintained a strictly Islamic state. He gained international renown by maintaining his "Bug Pit," a verminous subterranean cell into which he would thrust foreign visitors, allowing the pit's assorted vermin and reptiles to gnaw on them before their public beheading. He is also remembered for his secret police, his brutality even toward his own citizenry and certain light-hearted moments.
One recalls with amusement the time in 1845 when in a fit of "uncontrollable laughter," he released the Rev. Joseph Wolff, a Church of England clergyman, who appeared in the emir's court wearing full canonical dress and admitting that, yes, he did indeed like his pork chops. The emir apparently found the consumption of pork very funny, and I have to admit I agree with him when it comes to an old German recipe that I once read for pig's feet.