FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Gates of Hell

“The gates of hell are open in Iraq.”
Arab League Chief Amr Mussa

“When Ramadan starts the Gates of Paradise are opened and the Gates of Hell are closed and the Satans are bound.”
Muslim belief, words of the Prophet

Arab League Chief Amr Mussa warned before the US invasion that a US war on Iraq “would open the gates of hell.” On September 12, 2004, a year and a half after the war’s inception, he affirmed that the gates of hell are open in Iraq. It doesn’t seem a hyperbolic figure as burning, death, violence, destruction, and mayhem ravage Iraq. War is hell and the US war doesn’t escape the label despite its ‘Iraqi freedom’ christening.

When Sheik Yassin was assassinated by Israeli helicopter gunship, Hamas’s Dr. Rantissi reiterated a cry that Sharon had opened the gates of hell, and he continued “they know it’s opened, there will be no revenge, it’s an open war.” Rantissi himself was assassinated a month later and Hamas vowed to behead Sharon in revenge. Dr. Rantissi’s claim that open war exceeds revenge signals the idea that opening the gates of hell licenses violence without restraint.

Opening the gates of hell is like what President Bush means by ‘war on terror,’ a blander phrase. The notion of a war without qualification, without curb, without restraint, ‘by any means necessary,’ with total power accruing to the leader is what gave us Abu Graib. It is what our leaders-themselves in comfort -send others into. Lawlessness, terror, torture, rape, murder, mutilation, and ruin rule. Our leaders see the gates of hell as the very route to the gates of paradise-liberty, mercy, peace. But the gates are not the same.

At the beginning of Muslim observance of Ramadan it is said that the Gates of Paradise (or mercy) are opened and the Gates of Hell are closed and the Satans (or devils) are bound. The month-long religious observance of fasting-refraining from eating, drinking, smoking and sexual relations from dawn to sundown-is begun in the belief that self-discipline, prayer and compassion are necessary and powerful. As the faithful moderate their appetites, the Gates of Paradise or mercy open and the Gates of Hell close and devils are bound. All, even the warrior of Jihad, must answer the call to the month of discipline.

Syndaresis is a term in moral philosophy that signifies an innate perception of right action-distinguishing good from evil. Do good and avoid evil is the root principle of ethics. The gates of hell and the gates of paradise are religious figures of that distinction. No sophistry, belligerent belief, or god-invoking compunction melds them: hell is not paradise, war is not peace; torture is not liberation; ruin is not building. Only appetites out of control fail to see the difference. The gates of hell are open in Iraq and they are not the gates of paradise.

DIANE CHRISTIAN is SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor at University at Buffalo and author of the new book Blood Sacrifice. She can be reached at: engdc@acsu.buffalo.edu

 

More articles by:

DIANE CHRISTIAN is SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor at University at Buffalo and author of the new book Blood Sacrifice. She can be reached at: engdc@acsu.buffalo.edu

September 24, 2018
Jonathan Cook
Hiding in Plain Sight: Why We Cannot See the System Destroying Us
Gary Leupp
All the Good News (Ignored by the Trump-Obsessed Media)
Robert Fisk
I Don’t See How a Palestinian State Can Ever Happen
Barry Brown
Pot as Political Speech
Lara Merling
Puerto Rico’s Colonial Legacy and Its Continuing Economic Troubles
Patrick Cockburn
Iraq’s Prime Ministers Come and Go, But the Stalemate Remains
William Blum
The New Iraq WMD: Russian Interference in US Elections
Julian Vigo
The UK’s Snoopers’ Charter Has Been Dealt a Serious Blow
Joseph Matten
Why Did Global Economic Performance Deteriorate in the 1970s?
Zhivko Illeieff
The Millennial Label: Distinguishing Facts from Fiction
Thomas Hon Wing Polin – Gerry Brown
Xinjiang : The New Great Game
Binoy Kampmark
Casting Kavanaugh: The Trump Supreme Court Drama
Max Wilbert
Blue Angels: the Naked Face of Empire
Weekend Edition
September 21, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Alexandra Isfahani-Hammond
Hurricane Florence and 9.7 Million Pigs
Andrew Levine
Israel’s Anti-Semitism Smear Campaign
Paul Street
Laquan McDonald is Being Tried for His Own Racist Murder
Brad Evans
What Does It Mean to Celebrate International Peace Day?
Nick Pemberton
With or Without Kavanaugh, The United States Is Anti-Choice
Jim Kavanagh
“Taxpayer Money” Threatens Medicare-for-All (And Every Other Social Program)
Jonathan Cook
Palestine: The Testbed for Trump’s Plan to Tear up the Rules-Based International Order
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: the Chickenhawks Have Finally Come Back Home to Roost!
David Rosen
As the Capitalist World Turns: From Empire to Imperialism to Globalization?
Jonah Raskin
Green Capitalism Rears Its Head at Global Climate Action Summit
James Munson
On Climate, the Centrists are the Deplorables
Robert Hunziker
Is Paris 2015 Already Underwater?
Arshad Khan
Will Their Ever be Justice for Rohingya Muslims?
Jill Richardson
Why Women Don’t Report Sexual Assault
Dave Clennon
A Victory for Historical Accuracy and the Peace Movement: Not One Emmy for Ken Burns and “The Vietnam War”
W. T. Whitney
US Harasses Cuba Amid Mysterious Circumstances
Nathan Kalman-Lamb
Things That Make Sports Fans Uncomfortable
George Capaccio
Iran: “Snapping Back” Sanctions and the Threat of War
Kenneth Surin
Brexit is Coming, But Which Will It Be?
Louis Proyect
Moore’s “Fahrenheit 11/9”: Entertaining Film, Crappy Politics
Ramzy Baroud
Why Israel Demolishes: Khan Al-Ahmar as Representation of Greater Genocide
Ben Dangl
The Zapatistas’ Dignified Rage: Revolutionary Theories and Anticapitalist Dreams of Subcommandante Marcos
Ron Jacobs
Faith, Madness, or Death
Bill Glahn
Crime Comes Knocking
Terry Heaton
Pat Robertson’s Hurricane “Miracle”
Dave Lindorff
In Montgomery County PA, It’s Often a Jury of White People
Louis Yako
From Citizens to Customers: the Corporate Customer Service Culture in America 
William Boardman
The Shame of Dianne Feinstein, the Courage of Christine Blasey Ford 
Ernie Niemi
Logging and Climate Change: Oregon is Appalachia and Timber is Our Coal
Jessicah Pierre
Nike Says “Believe in Something,” But Can It Sacrifice Something, Too?
Paul Fitzgerald - Elizabeth Gould
Weaponized Dreams? The Curious Case of Robert Moss
Olivia Alperstein
An Environmental 9/11: the EPA’s Gutting of Methane Regulations
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail