Inkwell readers know that both Andrew Sullivan and I have raised a novel issue with regard to the alleged torture of Iraqi prisoners by US soldiers: Might the real complaint of the Arab street be that whatever was done was done in part by women? 

In other words, the real torture was the presence of female soldiers. I called this little-noticed matter the elephant in the room.  

An Inkwell reader named George agrees and adds some fascinating insights.

Writes our correspondent:

“That’elephant’ isn’t just lurking, it’s in full trumpeting stampede. Remember back when they found some of the 9/11 terrorists’goodbye letters, and their demands that their remains not be seen by women? How utterly horrified the Saudi’s were during the first Gulf War when American women were actually seen giving orders to men? It’s the shame, not the’torture.’Most Middle Easterners could care less about the torture of prisoners per se. That’s business as usual. Having a woman, not just present, but assisting in that shame, apparently under the orders of another woman, is regarded as a direct and personal insult to every Muslim man everywhere. It will also probably be seen as a direct attack on Muslim culture. The shame response is so immediate, so visceral, that most Muslims will believe that it had to be a calculated, and knowing affront. This will not go away with time.”