Purim 2003: This year in Iraq?

I confess I never did understand this part of the Book of Esther.  After all, the catastrophe was averted; the massacre did not take place.  Why then this call for bloodshed?  Five hundred men were slain in Shushan in one day and three hundred the next.  Seventy-five thousand persons lost their lives elsewhere…Is this why we are told to get drunk and forget?  To erase the boundaries between reality and fantasy–and think that it all happened only in a dream?…This must explain why God chose not to give His name to the Book of Esther:  He refused to be associated with the denouement–with the bloodshed.  It was His way of saying, Don’t ascribe this to me; I had nothing to do with it; you wanted revenge, all right–but don’t make me responsible for it.”

“There are no historical documents to verify the story of Purim.  Some scholars think that the events in the Megillah did not occur, but rather that they are based on stories related to the Babylonian gods such Ishtar (Esther?) and Marduk (Mordechai?)”…In some communities it was not enough to drown out Haman’s name with noise.  People also made effigies of Haman and burned them.  This practice led to instances on Purim when Jews made and burned effigies which resembled new enemies, helping them to vent their hate and frustrations.”