Forgive Saddam Hussein?

BAGHDAD, IRAQ — As an Assyrian Christian, the indigenous people of Iraq, with family who were terrorized and imprisoned by Saddam Hussein, hate is a mild word when asked how one feels towards Saddam Hussein.

I cannot erase from my memory the terror in our family. The sheer horror when there was an unexpected knock on the door or an unknown telephone call.

The family members and for that matter nearly one million Iraqis he killed and the countless million lives he destroyed.

My cousin, imprisoned in Abu Ghraib for years simply because she refused to sleep with one of Saddam's cronies knows firsthand.

Another relative with a body scarred from a huge slash across his face to a body covered with cigarette burns and cuts from the same Abu Ghraib knows too.

For our family, Abu Ghraib was a very, very different place – beating was every day after lunch and Wednesday and Sunday were days for hanging – this was the real Abu Ghraib.

How do you forgive this?

First of all it is important to never forget. One of the true dangers outside of Iraq is that somehow in all that has transpired in Iraq; the sheer evil of Saddam has been forgotten.

I remember! The biggest lesson Saddam taught me concerned the existence of evil. For those who live in democratic and free countries, the concept of evil has gone somewhere.

In a world of political correctness, much of the world is unable to understand because they have never experienced sheer evil.

This was Saddam. His face was everywhere. From the moment you woke up to the time you went to bed he was everywhere. He was on the money, his three pictures – one in Arab Headdress, one with his rifle and the other, the old black and white picture in every office – was always somewhere.

Driving, his statues were everywhere. He was in your dreams.

The message of Saddam Hussein, is to remind the world that there is evil. It exists and Saddam Hussein and his even more evil sons and all their henchmen embodied it completely.

The fatal flaw following the liberation of Iraq was the clash of cultures – one who had lived under evil and knew it firsthand and the other that denied its existence.

This denial of evil brought us to where we today, where the successors to Saddam Hussein in the form of Hakim, Sadr, Sistani and their bosses in Iran are viewed through the prism of situational ethics which see something "good" in all men, in spite of the simple fact that some men are evil.

Second, though can Saddam be forgiven? The real ones to ask are those whose lives were destroyed by him.

Ask my precious cousin for example. What is she doing today? Is she wallowing in the 15 years taken from him?

No, she forgave him. She was imprisoned because she is a Christian. She forgives, again because, as part of the oldest Church in the world - The Assyrian Church of the East, from the first nation to accept Christianity, she forgave him and a miracle happened.

Not only did she get her previous job back, but honored for the years of suffering she was given the precise job she would have had if she had been working during the time she was in prison!

Better yet, a recent move by the Iraqi Government to accept a request for a province for the Assyrian Christians – something our people have dreamed for, for generations!

The lesson as the world prepares for the possible execution of Saddam Hussein? Yes, there is evil in the world. In spite of the advances of technology and the general progress of mankind, there is evil and to deny it is to fall into the trap it sets up.

Also, though is the lesson that no matter how evil falls, in the end it is truth and God that "wins".

In the "politically correct" age in which we live there is no "evil" and no "good", but Saddam Hussein illustrates both.

He was the embodiment of evil. Those that forgave him and moved on, were truly the embodiment of "good".

Finally, though, the world must in recognizing that evil does exist, stop "coddling" the new "Saddams" – Hakim, Sadr, Sistani.

Just as Saddam, they have blood on their hands. I will never forget the evil eyes of Hakim as I looked into them as we spoke.

The core reason for the current difficulties in Iraq has nothing to do with Military Strategy or poor planning. It has to do with a very simple truth the "civilized" world has forgotten. It is the simple reality of evil.

Denying its existence, those who tried to rebuild Iraq always saw some good. This denial of evil clouded their judgment.

Where they saw "cultural diversity" and "local values", the reality was that it was and still is just plain, old fashioned evil.

Saddam is gone, but the battle with evil is not.

For us, we need to face the uncomfortable fact that evil exists and that we must stand against it, at the same time never forgetting that there is a God and that in the end, it is He that wins.

Special to ASSIST News Service
Ken Joseph Jr., is an Author, commentator and speaker. His most recent book, "Who Lost Iraq", will be out in the spring.

Published, January 2007