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Saddam and Gomorrah
For biblical scholars, the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, found in the Book of Genesis, has long been one of endless fascination and a touchstone for teaching the evils of the seven deadly sins.
For political scholars, the contemporary story of Saddam and Gomorrah is proving to be even more fascinating in its recasting, as it too becomes a touchstone for teaching the evils of tyranny.
In either case, the consequences of the seven deadly virtues: pride, envy, gluttony, lust, anger, greed and sloth, are once again being illustrated to the world.
In the original telling, the men of Sodom "were wicked, such sinners against the Lord, He decided to destroy them." For the people of the land, there was no escape, as the Lord "rained down fire and brimstone . . . He destroyed everyone living there and everything growing in the ground."
Fast forward to 2003: The men of Saddam have been proven to be wicked, killing innocents by the thousands, committing political breaches by the score, and thus the Coalition decided to destroy them. For the people of the land, again there is no real escape, as the airstrikes rain down fire and brimstone in the form of SMART bombs and bunker busters . . . destroying everyone who happens to be in the way and everything sneaking underground.
The Bible records what Abraham saw, "He looked down to Sodom and Gomorrah, toward all the land and the plain, and he saw a dense smoke rising from the land, like smoke from a furnace." (Genesis 19:28)
CNN records what the embeds see, towards all the land and the plain, a dense smoke rising from the land. They also describe the heat inside the soldiers uniforms as being like a furnace. Oh and they detail the bodies of the dead, the casualties of the Coalition, the POWs, the hunger, the thirst of the innocent people, in technicolor. (Videophones were not available in the Biblical version.)
The Bible says that Sodom and Gomorrah became an example of how God judges sin. Among the sins of the Sodomites, Ezekial lists pride, fullness of bread, abundance of idleness, haughtiness and being unwilling to strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. "They were haughty and did detestable things before Me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen." (Ezekial 16:49-50)
Political pundits say that Saddam has become an example of how the West judges sin. History books will list the sins of the Saddamites as being "haughty", living a lavish life unrivaled by any Robin Leach special. Human rights violations are endless, the gassing of the Kurds and the slaughter of the Iranians, just to name two. He has committed detestable acts before the world, no argument. And as for "being unwilling to strengthen the hand of the poor and needy?" Oil for food has proved to be oil for his many palaces, while his people lived in poverty and hunger. Therefore President Bush and his Coalition decided to do away with him and his regime as we have seen. "The outcome is certain. And we will not stop until Saddam and his regime are gone." (George Bush, repeatedly, 2003)
In the Bible, as fire and brimstone were brought to bear, God allowed Lot, the one good man living there, to flee with his family. But Lotís wife disobeyed Godís warning not to look back and was turned into a pillar of salt.
In our modern day story, President Bush allowed the "lot" of good people time to flee with their families. However, the "lot" knew that to disobey Saddam and his Republican Guard would have resulted in immediate death.
Biblical scholars warn that Sodom and Gomorrah were completely destroyed, never to be rebuilt. What remains to be seen in our contemporary retelling is the eventual outcome. Can the Coalition and the UN actually rebuild the country, provide voice for the people and bring stability to a region where suicide bombings and terrorist training camps are sinful facts of life?
Political scholars warn us to hope so, or one day we may all look back on Saddam and Gomorrah and turning into pillars of salt will be the least of our worries.