I love the letter V.
But it has nothing to do with this post.
So, Pope Benedict XVI has apologized for his remarks in Regensburg last week in which he quoted a 14th Century Byzantine emperor who said not nice things about Islam and the Prophet Muhammad. During the speech, twice before the quote and once after, the Pope indicated that he was merely quoting a historical figure, and not advocating said historical figure's positions.
Predictable outrage ensued, although on a smaller scale than that following the recent publication of some stupid cartoons. Now, the Pope has apologized by saying exactly what he said in the speech in the first place, namely, that he was quoting Emperor Manuel II Paleologos (great name, by the way) and not speaking from his own opinions.
Unsurprisingly this apology has been cited by some sources as not nearly enough to satisfy all Muslims (some of whom will not be satisfied until the Pope converts to Islam). To prove the Emperor's point about Islam and violence, an Italian nun was shot in the streets of (the Islamic Courts Union ruled city of) Mogadishu, while some Iranian chap announced the Pope and George Bush were united in an attempt to bring back the Crusades. (In fairness, the Iranian chap is only doing what politicians worldwide do every day, namely creating false bogeymen to frighten the populace and make them forget about their real problems, all of which are caused by politicians. I should not blame Islam for the general curse of politics.)
Of course, Christianity is hardly a religion historically known for peace and love, at least in a geopolitical sense. The mass collectivization of Native Americans, African colonialism, the Crusades, all these wonderful aspects of world history and more were borne on the shoulders of our pathetic inability to grasp the true meaning of Christ's injunction to love our neighbors as ourselves. Perhaps the Pope could start a dialogue among Christians about whether we have truly atoned for these historical blemishes on our own record. We're all quick to announce that we can catch more flies with honey than vinegar, yet world history before and after Christ's appearance has been little more than vinegar. That said, of course, the Crusades were over six hundred years ago and it's time to bury the damn hatchet. I frequently hear the refrain that "memories are long" in this part of the world. What this really means is that people in this part of the world are stuck in the past. It's time to start moving forward, not looking over our shoulders hoping somebody will turn into salt.
Not to let the Islamic leadership off the hook, either. Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has said that "efforts to link Islam and terrorism should be clearly opposed." He is, of course, correct, but I wonder whether he couldn't start matters at home. Musharraf is, after all, the fellow whose country happens to be harboring Osama bin Ladn. Perhaps, if the good General/President is really concerned about the link between Islam and violence in the minds of Westerners and Christians, he could start by condemning the 9/11 attacks, the Madrid bombing, the London metro bombings, etc. etc. etc., and encouraging his fellow rulers of Muslim countries to do the same in absolutely unequivocal terms. This would be far too much to ask, of course. It's much easier to complain and riot and force the Westerners and Christians to apologize for every perceived slight to you, while continuing to foment anti-Western sentiment among your own people in order to cling to power.
I'm slowly coming to realization that all world leaders everywhere at petty, cloying little assholes not worthy of the leadership positions thrust upon them by a confused and bitter public. We don't need a revolution in one country. We need a revolution in every country.