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2/01/2005

 

baptized by purple ink



when you grow up in a nation where a few drops of rain can ravage voter turnout, it's difficult to understand why anyone would brave mortar-fire and suicide bombers to punch a chad--especially when neither jesse jackson and the race police nor jimmy carter and his gaggle of international busybodies will be chaperoning the dance.

the conventional wisdom is that the iraqi people are caught up in some sort of democratic fervor which, put plainly, amounts to temporary insanity. my hunch is that the truth is somewhat more mundane: why not risk your life to vote? if your entire existence had been perpetuated over the last three decades only by the tender mercies of saddam hussein, a few explosions and sporadic gunfire can be more readily taken in stride.

this is not to diminish the heroism of the average iraqi voter. indeed, far from being blinded to the danger by puppy love for newfound democracy, they were more fully aware of it than any of the pundits naysaying what had been billed as a hopelessly suicidal endeavor from the safety of their sunday morning news programs. the iraqi love of freedom is not that of the gourmand for a glass of champagne, but that of a starving man for a loaf of bread. it's a primal hunger, a yearning from all that is within. they knew what they needed, they knew what they were missing, they counted the cost, and they went.

they went and, to a wondrous degree, they returned home again. home with purple finger tips, a distinction one senator described as a vivid symbol of democracy or some such, but, more importantly, one that to an al zarqawi or bin laden must gleam like the mark of the beast. it shocked me as soon as i saw it, and i remember thinking that the poll workers who provided that ink may as well have had the voters use their stained fingers to paint bull’s-eyes on their foreheads. (i also remember thinking that the mild nuisance of having one's finger painted purple alone would have been enough to depress voter turnout by fifty percent were it tried here in the states.) in hindsight, even more surprising was that few in the media criticized such a potentially dangerous method of preventing voter fraud. perhaps the prospects of another bush administration have our media friends thinking obliquely that a few buckets of ink and a few gallons of blood for fraud prevention isn't such a bad deal?

even more than the courage they showed in voting, i admired their purple fingers. it makes me think of baptism in the earliest days of Christianity, when the name of Jesus carried along with it a death sentence. in those days, church pews weren't padded and there weren't any wednesday evening socials. "spirituality" wasn't a compartment in one's life adjacent to aromatherapy and herbal tea, it was what they lived, the bread they ate, the wine they drank, the very air they breathed. to set themselves apart and announce their intentions to throw all they had behind Christ, they would be baptized--a public statement marking them not only to God, but to the bloodthirsty romans as well. it was way of saying that they walked away from their old lives, burned the bridge back, and were now in it to the glorious end.

it may take some time, but iraq is going to be ok.

locdog doesn't see how terror can triumph