What do history's most notorious despots have in common with many of the flag-waving, patriotic politicians of our day? Both groups rise to power through the exploitation of fear, which has become a societal plague. There have been widespread casualties. We need an antidote. Feardom offers its readers a much-needed immunization.
His first visit to a mostly Muslim country, held under tight security for fear of protests by nationalists and Islamists, was highlighted by a series of conciliatory gestures culminating in a stop on Thursday afternoon in Istanbul’s famed Blue Mosque.
“The Pope’s dreaded visit was concluded with a wonderful surprise,” wrote daily Aksam on its front page.
“In Sultan Ahmet Mosque, he turned toward Mecca and prayed like Muslims,” popular daily Hurriyet said, using the building’s official name.
I wonder how much the Pope didn’t want to do this. You gotta know that his PR people (or Kissinger?) were prodding him to perform such an act in hopes of putting the bad press behind them.
Is such an act beneficial? Must a person entertain aspects of the “victim”‘s lifestyle or tradition in order to make a full and sincere apology (which the Pope has yet to verbally do, despite constant calls to do so by his critics)? If I offend an alcoholic, must I down a beer in order to show I am sorry? Perhaps this wasn’t the intent of the Pope, but it seems to me that the only reason he would do such a thing is to “build a bridge” and illustrate that he respects the Muslim faith. I think it’s ineffective.