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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

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Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

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Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

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April 14, 2014

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Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

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April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

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Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

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April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

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Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

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Jewish World Review Jan. 4, 2007 / 14 Teves 5767

An act of moral hygiene

By Jeff Jacoby

Jeff Jacoby
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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | "The execution of Saddam, a human-rights monster, turned his unspeakable record upside down." So we are informed by Richard Dicker of Human Rights Watch, which issued a statement calling the monster's hanging "a significant step away from respect for human rights and the rule of law in Iraq."

You may not agree with that — you may be one of those squares who think the death of a mass murderer makes the world a better place — but Tim Hames does. A columnist for the Times of London, Hames declared himself over the weekend with "those who find the notion of this execution offensive." He recognizes that "the evidence of Saddam's atrocities is overwhelming," but, like Dicker, he is sure that the government that hanged the dictator did something as evil to Saddam Hussein as anything Saddam did to his innumerable victims. "Mainstream middle-class sentiment in Europe," Hames tells us, "now regards the death penalty as being as ethically tainted as the crimes that produced that sentence."

As ethically tainted. Got that? The quick and painless death meted out to the Butcher of Baghdad after a reasonably transparent trial is morally equivalent to the horrific brutalities that earned him his nickname.

The chronicling of those brutalities will go on for years, but here is a reminder — one minuscule fragment of Saddam's record, plucked almost at random from Kanan Makiya's 1993 book about Iraq and the Arab world, Cruelty and Silence:


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"Children who would not give their parents' names to soldiers" — this was in 1991, during Saddam's suppression of the Shi'ite uprising — "were doused with gasoline and set on fire. Some were tied to moving tanks to discourage sniper fire from the rebels. Security forces also burned entire families in their houses when they would not give or did not know the location of the head of the household. . . . Some rebels, it has been alleged, were forced to drink gasoline before being shot. It appears that instead of crumpling into an undramatic lifeless heap, the victim explodes and burns like a torch for a short while. "

If "mainstream middle-class sentiment in Europe" equates burning children alive with hanging the man responsible for burning them, then mainstream middle-class sentiment in Europe, to quote Mr. Bumble, "is a ass — a idiot."

And so you might conclude from the headlines and the official European reactions to Saddam's death. "The EU condemns the crimes committed by Saddam and also the death penalty," said the spokeswoman for Javier Solana, the European Union's foreign-affairs chief. "Europe condemns death penalty," announced the German paper Deutsche Welle. The British foreign secretary, Margaret Beckett, let it be known that "the British government does not support the use of the death penalty, in Iraq or anywhere else . . . regardless of the individual or the crime." Dutch and Belgian officials called the execution "barbaric." The Vatican declared it "tragic."

With opposition to capital punishment so firmly entrenched in Europe's worldview, it came as no surprise to learn that US officials tried in vain to convince the UN, the European Union, and a host of countries to assist with the tribunal that judged Saddam. "They all refused," the Boston Globe reported last week, "because they opposed the tribunal's use of the death penalty."

But what if Europeans don't oppose the use of the death penalty? When the German magazine Stern commissioned a poll on whether Saddam should be executed, it found 50 percent of Germans in favor and only 39 percent opposed. A poll conducted last month for Le Monde found that most Americans (82 percent) favored hanging Saddam — as did most Spaniards (51 percent), most Germans (53 percent), most French (58 percent), and most Britons (69 percent).

In fact, once you get past the leftist elites who run the media and staff the foreign ministries, other industrialized nations may not be nearly as implacable in opposing the death penalty as we're commonly told. "Polls show that Europeans and Canadians crave executions almost as much as their American counterparts do," wrote Joshua Micah Marshall in The New Republic in 2000. "It's just that their politicians don't listen to them."

In Canada, for example, support for reinstating the death penalty ran between 60 percent and 70 percent. Two-thirds to three-quarters of Brits, about half of Italians, and even 49 percent of Swedes (according to a 1997 poll) felt the same way. "There is barely a country in Europe," Marshall concluded, "where the death penalty was abolished in response to public opinion rather than in spite of it."

"Mainstream middle-class sentiment" abroad, it turns out, may not be such an ass after all. When normal men and women in Europe look at Saddam's hanging, they, like us, see an act of moral hygiene. If their politicians and journalists see something different — well, what else is new?

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Jeff Jacoby is a Boston Globe columnist. Comment by clicking here.

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