Ed Driscoll

Through The Looking Glass

From Orrin Judd’s review of Baghdad Without a Map: And Other Misadventures in Arabia, written in 1991 by Tony Horwitz:

All of this though is mere prelude to the fascinating, but frightening, closing section of the book, in which Mr. Horwitz and his wife travel to Iran to attend the funeral of the Ayatollah Khomeni, along with what may well, as he suggests, have been the largest crowd of people ever assembled in human history.  This event turned deadly, with literally millions of crazed mourners crushing each other, then devolved into bizarre spectacle, with the faithful tearing apart the dead imam’s corpse.   But even here, with religious frenzy at its worst, Mr. Horwitz offers this nearly surreal exchange :

One of the demonstrators peeled off to rest by the curb, and I edged over to ask him what the mourners were shouting.

‘Death to America,’ he said.

‘Oh.’ I reached for my notebook as self-protection and scribbled the Farsi transliteration : Margbar Omrika.

‘You are American?’ he asked.

‘Yes. A journalist.’  I braced myself for a diatribe against the West and its arrogant trumpets.

‘I must ask you something,’ the man said.  ‘Have you ever been to Disneyland?’

‘As a kid, yes.’

The man nodded, thoughtfully stroking his beard.  ‘My brother lives in California and has written me about Disneyland,’ he continued.  ‘It has always been my dream to go there and take my children on the tea-cup ride.’

With that, he rejoined the marchers, raised his fist and yelled ‘Death to America!’ again.

Of course, as Chris Muir captured in the Sunday edition of his “Day By Day” cartoon, the duality that exists within both ancient Islam and the supremely secular original town that Walt helped to build flows both ways.