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Dark Sacrament

Thus, people who live in societies governed by religious or political correctness soon require an "Ask the Imam" service. They need to know, as a practical matter, how to behave in every situation. When is a person considered Hispanic? A White Hispanic? An Afro-White Hispanic? Otherwise they will make a mistake, a condition known as "insensitivity."

These perplexities have created a demand for race experts or political correctness experts of all kinds, whose sole function is to determine whether a word, action, or gesture is ceremonially correct. Sensitivity training is nothing more than an "Ask the Imam" service for secular, modern, leftist Westerners, and it is a huge market. Denny's, after paying out $5.4 million in a British discrimination suit, quickly retained prominent ethnic spokesmen to do their commercials and is now Fortune magazine's "Best Company for Minorities."

So from one point of view, the Islamic specification on whether and for how long you can have sex with the deceased is simply another "Ask the Imam"  question. What is interesting about this case though is that it places one totalitarian tendency -- radical Islamism -- on a collision course with another totalitarian tendency, Western political correctness. You have the irresistible force, Leftism, against the immovable object, Islam.

Why should they care when the dead may not? Because Western feminism, though entirely indifferent to abortion or the sacredness of the dead in other contexts, is like every ideology sensitive to direct challenge. Since the Egyptian ruling has the appearance of subordinating a woman to a man -- even though  one party is already a corpse who might not give a hoot -- it is sacrilege to the feminist canon. For nothing is more jealous of its sacraments than institutions which profess not to believe in any. But for feminism and Islamism, the contest was never about women or Allah. It will always be about power. That, they can both believe in.

Yet it is perhaps permissible, even hallowed, to express a love for the dead, though rarely in physical ways. A flower by the tomb, a burned out candle, a memory at close of day is a sign not only of what remains, but what endures. Yet love needs no imam or PC experts to guide it. Just the sounding sea and a single voice speaking out as if no word were ever unheard.

It was many and many a year ago,

In a kingdom by the sea,

That a maiden there lived whom you may know

By the name of Annabel Lee;

And this maiden she lived with no other thought

Than to love and be loved by me.

I was a child and she was a child,

In this kingdom by the sea:

But we loved with a love that was more than love -

I and my Annabel Lee;

With a love that the winged seraphs of heaven

Coveted her and me.

And this was the reason that, long ago,

In this kingdom by the sea,

A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling

My beautiful Annabel Lee;

So that her high-born kinsmen came

And bore her away from me,

To shut her up in a sepulchre

In this kingdom by the sea.

The angels, not half so happy in heaven,

Went envying her and me -

Yes! that was the reason (as all men know,

In this kingdom by the sea)

That the wind came out of the cloud one night,

Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.

But our love it was stronger by far than the love

Of those who were older than we -

Of many far wiser than we -

And neither the angels in heaven above,

Nor the demons down under the sea,

Can ever dissever my soul from the soul

Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;

For the moon never beams without bringing me dreams

Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;

And the stars never rise but I feel the bright eyes

Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;

And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side

Of my darling -my darling -my life and my bride,

In the sepulchre there by the sea -

In her tomb by the sounding sea.

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