NEW YORK, Nov. 11 (UPI) -- Every decade or so, we should remind ourselves of who the Iraqis are:
1. Twelve-thousand years ago, they invented irrigated farming. They got to be so good at it that, today, they can still produce all the food they need even when "sanctions" are imposed.
2. They invented writing.
3. They figured out how to tell time.
4. They founded modern mathematics.
5. In the Code of Hammurabi, they invented the first legal system that protects the weak, the widow and the orphan.
6. Five-thousand years ago, they had philosophers who attempted to list every known thing in the world.
7. They were using Pythagoras' theorem 1,700 years before Pythagoras.
8. They invented artificial building materials, some kind of pre-fab-crete stuff used to construct high-rise towers.
9. Ur, in southeast Iraq, is assumed to be the place we're all descended from.
10. They were the first people to build cities and live in them.
11. For thousands of years, they wrote the greatest poetry, history and "sagas" in the world.
12. Because they were great horse breeders, they invented the cavalry in war.
13. The Iraq Museum in Baghdad contains some of the most outstanding stone, metal and clay sculptures and inscriptions created in the history of the world. Some of them are more than 7,000 years old. If a bomb hits this place, art lovers around the world will go into mourning.
14. The first school for astronomers was established by Iraqis. This is how the "wise men" got to be so wise. They knew how to follow the star.
15. Beginning around 800 A.D., the Iraqis founded universities that imported teachers from throughout the civilized world to teach medicine, mathematics, philosophy, theology, literature and poetry.
16. For the first 1,200 years of its existence, Baghdad was regarded as one of the most refined, civilized and festive cities in the world.
17. Abraham, the father of Israel, was from Iraq.
18. Abraham, the father of Islam, was from Iraq.
19. Abraham, the father and "model" of Christian faith, was from Iraq.
20. Saddam Hussein doesn't regard himself as the heir of Abraham, or even as the heir of Muhammad. He regards himself, first and foremost, as the heir of Nebuchadnezzar. He identifies, in other words, with the enslaver, not the enslaved.
Everything we know about the rest of Iraq tells us that he is the exception, not the Iraqis.
John Bloom writes a number of columns for UPI and may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or through his Web site at joebobbriggs.com. Snail mail: P.O. Box 2002, Dallas, Texas 75221.)