Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Papal Inflammability

So Pope Benedict made a speech where he decided an interfaith dialogue would best be served by quoting a medieval Byzantine emperor about how Islam is a religion of violence. Nice way to lay the groundwork for your upcoming trip to Turkey, infallible Holy Father. Muslims around the world responded to this calumny by storming the streets, burning the Pope in effigy, and burning a few churches. Nice, non-violent, reasoned response, fellow children of Abraham. The Pope said he was sorry Muslims were offended. Muslims said “not good enough – we have plenty more effigies where those came from”.
So Catholicism now joins the list of religions Muslims hate a lot this year – to recap, they hate Hindus because of India/Pakistan, they hate Catholics because of the Pope’s quotes, they hate Protestants because of Danish cartoons, they hate Jews because it’s their business. So those interfaith breakfasts at Mecca will include just Muslims, Buddhists, and Ramsay Clark. Of course, given what’s happening in Iraq, the Muslims themselves aren’t exactly on good terms, since the Shiites hate the Sunnis. God is indeed great and my version is greater than yours or else.
What impresses me is how fast they can organize these street protests. I mean, we have a march, it takes months to organize; they get tens of thousands out there the next day. Signs are painted, effigies are built, chants are ready to be chanted – these people are the world’s experts at coordinated anger.
The effigies really interest me. Are these independently created? Does some guy hear the news and run home to build an effigy of the Pope? Is it a family activity? Or is there a local effigy maker, who is called up by the coordinator of the angry march?

“Ahmed, we need an effigy for a big march tomorrow.”
“I have a Bush effigy ready to go.”
“No, it’s the Pope.”
“Wow. I’ve never done the Pope before – he wears white, right?”

Is there a competition between the local effigy maker “Ahmed, Effigy Maker to the Stars” and a chain, “Effigies R Us”? Will the Baghdad Wal-Mart destroy the local effigy business when they open? Will there be angry marches about Wal-Mart? What will the effigies be?
Meanwhile, in domestic news, the first team eliminated from CBS' The Amazing Race was comprised of two devout Muslims. Ahmed, get the Jerry Bruckheimer effigy ready


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