Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The Terrorists are Late

Summary: The terrorists are takhaluf, my Arabic tutor recently told me, when I taught him the word 'backward'. He initially referred to takhaluf as 'late'. Both words are priceless in the way they team up to describe the terrorist mentality. My tutor and I agreed that we had learned something very important with these words.

Since my change of mission about 3 weeks ago, I’ve learned about 145 new Arabic words from my new Iraqi tutor (and he’s learned almost that many English words from me). One day I was trying to understand a word I had heard, which is takhaluf. My tutor said this is like muta’akhr, which means late. For example, he said ‘Erhabiin muta’akhr. Erhabiin takhaluf. The terrorists are late. It took a minute for me to understand why he would say they are late. And then it dawned on me—I said, “In English, maybe this is when we say they are ‘backward’.”

“Bekwerd?” he asked, perplexed.

“Yes, backward.” And then I pantomimed, by walking backwards.

His eyes lit up. “Yes! Yes!! This is a very good word, backward. This is exactly what the terrorists are!!” He pointed to his head, and said “Their minds are takhaluf.”

This time it was my turn to smile. We had made an impressive intellectual connection that had overcome linguistic obstructions.

There are many in Iraq who are like my tutor--who despise the terrorist insurgency because the insurgents are takhaluf. But their hatred is mixed somewhat with fear. Because those who are takhaluf in their minds are also haquud, or mean to those who are striving not to be takhaluf.

Like the dog in the manger, who does not intend to eat the hay but won’t let the cow eat either, the insurgent offers no constructive plan. Like the crab at the bottom of the pot that pulls back in the pot the crab that would escape, the insurgent seeks only to pull down and destroy.

Takhaluf is bad. Haquud is bad. But they will not prevail. Because haqiiq akwii min al takhalufiya wa haquudiya. (Truth is stronger than backwardness and meanness.)

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