Yesterday I read in USA TODAY that the Statue of Liberty was not a gift from the government of France to the people of the United States. In an article headlined “Unmasking the myths behind Lady Liberty” (expounding on a new book by Elizabeth Mitchell titled Liberty’s Torch: The Great Adventure to Build the Statue of Liberty), it was further revealed that French sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi “did not like most Americans. He thought that they were more interested in money than art.” Can you imagine that!

Like you (assuming you are like me), I am of course highly insulted by such an insinuation….especially coming from a man who, as he was building it, “put parts of the statue on display with an admission charge” and “copyrighted the statue’s image, intending to get paid every time it was used in ads, postcards and trinkets.” A French artiste should be rich enough to finance such a work with his own funds, just like an American artist.

In any case (no thanks to the French government), sufficient funds were raised and the rest, as they parlez-vous, is history….speaking of which, the above revelation got me to thinking about how many other celebrated “gifts” haven’t been all they seem on the surface.

The legendary Trojan Horse story is undoubtedly the most famous of them all, hence the well known saying, Beware of Greeks bearing gifts. In a more general sense, of course, what can top politicians promising anything to get elected? And, not to beat a dead horse, many religions promise eternal bliss in heaven for behaving yourself while going through hell on earth. ‘Twas ever thus.

Satirical geek that I am, my favorite has to be the 72 virgins promised to Islamic martyrs by Muhammad/the Koran — 72 “young, full-breasted” virgins, no less. I must admit that this one is the most persuasive of all. At my age, this holds the future promise of being as good as it gets.







  1. arekhill1 says:

    The 72 virgins dilemma represents all our contradictory thinking about Heaven. The decision when admitted and then confronted by all these full-breasted teenagers, of whether to assault them all at once or only to deflower one every several thousand years or so to extend one’s eternal pleasure, is hardly an easy one. Makes being an Islamic martyr seem even less appealing to me.


  2. mistermuse says:

    American virgins should thank their lucky stars that they don’t have to take male chauvinism (which is from the French “chauvin”) lying down, as they would if they were Islamic. Frankly, if I were a deceased Islamic virgin, I would demand more say in the matter; what could an Islamic martyr do to her if she won’t cooperate – she’s already dead.


  3. Don Frankel says:

    I like you am highly insulted by this news. I have decided to stop eating French fries and French toast from now on. And, I hate to be the guy who throws the monkey wrench in here but the virgins get to paradise because they are virgins. That’s their claim to fame or ticket in. So why would they give up being virgins once inside? Ah ha. Now imagine spending eternity with 72 virgins.


  4. mistermuse says:

    So much for converting to Islam. Guess I’ll stick with Deism, a non-prophet organization.


  5. Don Frankel says:

    arekill1 makes the same mistake that I guess every terrorist makes. He assumes that they are young and nubile. But just where does it say that? It just says virgins. There is no age listed and no pictures.. They are not on facebook. And, I don’t think you can complain much when you’re on the other side. As Muse points out you’re already dead. They sort of got you by the short hairs.

    Muse does a no-prophet organization mean there are no mottos or sayings? You know seek and ye shall find, maybe?


  6. mistermuse says:

    Don, for the answer to your first question, I turned to – with a name like that, you know you’re getting the straight dope (as opposed to homo dope, I presume). It turns out that, like the Bible, there are various versions of the Koran, one of which says, “Verily, for the righteous, there will be a paradise; gardens and grapeyards; and young full-breasted maidens of equal age.” Naturally, that version is just the ticket to the martyr’s afterlife that fundamentalist Muslims are hot to ride….it’s known as the Raging Hormones version (OK, I made that last part up, but the rest is the straight dope).

    As for non-prophets, the likes of Mark Twain may not be prophets, but with wise men like him and many others whose sayings I’ve quoted, who needs prophets?


    • Don Frankel says:

      Muse always, I mean always read the fine print. It says “full-breasted maidens of equal age”. That only means they are large and the women were born around the same time. Also it doesn’t say anybody is going to do anything just that they’ll be there.


  7. mistermuse says:

    Don, I’m glad you pointed that out, because it just goes to show how different interpretations of Holy Books screw people up. What that Koran passage means to you sounds logical to me, but I’m betting that an Islamic fundamentalist reads “equal age” as meaning “equal to HIS age.” And if those maidens are going to “be there” – well, what else would they be there for but to make righteous whoopee happily ever after?

    Logic versus hot male hormones/religious fervor? No contest!


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