Embarrassment of riches

Does God need evolution to make a world? Not if you’re a hick-hillbilly creationist like these folks. Yes, that’s “folks” with the s. The new Big Unanswerable Question for the completely uneducated is, “How do black people evolve from white people?” And to think I was going to write a post about Paul Berman’s exciting new book, Flight of the Intellectuals. Goddamit, YouTube!

It’s Going to Be a Very White Christmas

Northern mythologies

Some people are saying it’s a bit early to start worrying about Christmas. In the US, ’tis the season to be merry as soon as the Thanksgiving turkey exits the small intestine (or is it the large one?). In Italy, people begin bustling on December 9, the day after they celebrate the Immaculate Conception (“immaculate”, that is, since Dec. 8, 1854 when that rogue Pius IX said so). What was it before, I wonder? Just another normal, sex-begotten conception methinks. You can only undo that with dogma.

But that’s not the point of this post. I’m not even baptized, so none of this theological hemming and hawing means much to me anyway. Besides, anyone who reads this blog is aware that virgin births, transsubstantiated wafers, celestial voyages of the dead and stigmata are not “my kink” (as they say in the world of sex-blogging). Though I admit I find them fascinating and relevant to understanding the passions and prejudices of my fellow citizens and – in some cases – family members.

“White Christmas”, in fact, is the name given to an anti-immigrant movement in Northern Italy. Yes, it’s those Ku Kluxers again, the Northern League, who are behind this. The “white” in White Christmas – as I hope you guessed – doesn’t refer to snow or the snowy purity of the baby Jesus on his (sic) birthday, but rather to the milky complexion of the militant Christians that inhabit certain regions of the chilly Lombard north. And they don’t like immigrants at their eggnog parties, either.

So they are taking to the streets this Christmas season in pure holiday spirit: by sending the cops around to immigrants’ homes to make sure their papers are in order. If not, they are to be thrown out (yes, on Christmas, if that wasn’t yet clear). One might imagine that such a violation of Christian “DNA” might get these rogues excommunicated, but one would be wrong. Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, president of the Italian Episcopal Conference, reportedly gave them but a little slap on the wrist.

Yet another marriage between church and state, as this crusading has been approved – and is being copied in other townships – by the local government. No cross, no crown?

Is this really the way to deal with immigration in a country with no real assimilation program for immigrants? Not even the all-encompassing, all-accepting, all-loving representatives of God on earth are raising their powerful finger in protest? I mean, we’re not talking about Muslims or Jews, or even atheists (boy, I’d hate to have to rely on them to get me out of a jam), but fellow Christians. Is this really the best the Vatican can do to spread its message of universal love and the transcendent power of suffering?

Here’s another tempting thought: immigrants without papers don’t vote, now – do they?

“Racist! Racist!”

Empty seat at Durban 2
Empty seat at Durban 2

Things aren’t going so well after day one up in Geneva. Clowns were arrested, Ahmadinejad called Israel all sorts of bad things and was called a racist himself (but only by the clowns, mind you). There was apparently a move by the already diffident EU delegates to walk out on the Conference once his rant got underway. It isn’t clear from today’s papers whether France and England are there for day two or not. There was a “severe” condemnation from Sarkozy. The Vatican is staying put.

There was soft condemnation of Ahmadinejad’s words, but apparently the UN cannot allow itself to say anything that might be misconstrued as an opinion. They “condemned” Ahmadinejad’s choice of words, though he didn’t apparently pronounce the name “Israel.” Perhaps this means he was speaking of another country when he called it a “racist government” in the Middle East. Maybe he meant Syria, or Lebanon? Maybe he was being self-referential, post-modern, over our heads by talking about himself?

Anyway, the big news from Geneva is that there is no big news. Day one went just as most of us thought it would. Navi Pillay just doesn’t get it:

“A boycott isn’t the best response.”

Apparently this was the extent of her emotion at the hijacking of her Conference by a fanatical head of state who happens to be the world’s most visible Holocaust denier and potential genocidal maniac. Perhaps we should go back and take a look at Jeffrey Goldberg’s painstakingly compiled dossier of Ahmadinejad’s money quotes on Israel.

It’s business as usual at Durban 2.