The blogosphere is grousing after a weekend of anti-Christian violence, pondering the results of the Swedish elections, and remaining fearful of bagged spinach products.
Papal apology: After a weekend of violence—churches were firebombed in the West Bank and an Italian nun was murdered in Somalia—Pope Benedict XVI apologized Sunday for offending Muslims in a speech in Germany last week, saying he regrets that his remarks spurred such fierce reactions.
Iraqpundit, the blog of an Iraqi exile, declares that Muslims are looking in the wrong place—and century—for their apology: "Muslims like myself who find these words ill-considered should indeed demand an apology, but not from Benedict. Muslims should [demand] an apology, personal and abject, from Manuel II Paleologos. I'm aware he's been dead for centuries (and for that matter, may never have spoken the words at all), but details like that are nothing compared to the pure flame of my righteous anger!" After observing that "the sword of Islam cuts only one way," Israeli David Bognerat at Treppenwitz sees no accident in the pope's choice of words: "[O]ne doesn't go around casually dropping quotes from obscure medieval emperors into speeches. That sort of thing requires a bit of forethought and research," he maintains.
Mystery novelist, screenwriter, and agnostic Roger L. Simon dubs Islam a "malignant belief system" before backtracking a little: "I recognize value in a whole host of religions, even in parts of Islam. But it is clear that this religious belief has oppressed its people (women particularly), kept masses of them in poverty and backwardness while enriching their rulers, and fomented deranged violence across the world from New York to Bali. What is an honest Pope supposed to say? Good on you? In this post-cartoon universe, I guess he is."
Blogging under a pseudonym at Demagogue, lefty Frederick Maryland finds the pope's apology "tedious" and derides the liberal tendency to try to explain away such violence: "Sometimes, I get the impression that my fellow liberals (who, like me, are no fan of the pope) are too inclined to take these violent reactions from the Muslim world in stride," he opines. The liberal Lutheran at Faithful Progressive faults the pope's diplomatic skills.
AtBettNet, Catholic blogger Domenico Bettinelli Jr. * analyzes Benedict's apology: "I have a hunch that he doesn't fear the effects on himself so much as the effects on innocents who will be punished as proxies for rage against him," he writes. Over at Belief Net's Crunchy Con blog, Dallas Morning News Editor Rod Dreher is perturbed: "Honestly, the thin-skinnedness of many Muslims is getting awfully tiresome. How on earth are we ever supposed to be able to have a dialogue if the non-Muslim side has to walk on eggshells to avoid offending the wounded sensibilities of Muslim leaders, who seem very eager to take the gross offense at anything critical."
Canadian newspaper columnist David Warren condemns the BBC for "doing the devil's work" in its coverage. "The BBC appears to have been quickest off the mark, to send around the world in many languages, including Arabic, Turkish, Farsi, Urdu, and Malay, word that the Pope had insulted the Prophet of Islam, during an address in Bavaria. … [T]hey are worth singling out here to show the amount of sheer, murderous evil of which this taxpayer-funded network is capable." Wretchard at The Belmont Club is nauseated by the media reaction to Benedict's remarks: "We have learned less from Pope Benedict's words then we have discovered from the reaction to them," he writes.
Read more about the pope and Islam.
Right turn for Sweden? The center-right Moderate Party won 48.1 percent of the vote in the Swedish elections this weekend, knocking the ruling center-left Social Democrats out of power. The Moderate Party's Fredrik Reinfeldt plans to trim up the country's teetering social welfare programs.
Many American conservatives regard the results as as socialism's latest failure. Associate philosophy professor Keith Burgess-Jackson at Anal Philosopher writes: "Reality has bitch-slapped Sweden. See here. It took a while, but Swedes have learned that if you tell people their needs will be provided for whether they work or not, they will—ta da!—choose not to work."
At a Swedish media and public relations blog appropriately named Media Culpa, Hans Kullin bemoans the new leadership's rather drab physical appearance. "So Sweden yesterday voted for the right-wing alliance and Fredrik Reinfeldt as our next Prime Minister. Yes, balding men, born in the 60s, who have three kids, drive Chrysler Voyager and live in Täby are really popular these days."
True to his profession, young Swedish free-market economist Stefan Karlsson provides an economic explanation for the Social Democrats' loss: "The main reason why the Social Democrats lost was that they were in denial about the reality of mass unemployment in Sweden, mostly spending their time trying to hide away the unemployed into other statistical categories," he writes.
Read more about the Swedish elections.
Spinach menace: With 109 people infected so far from E. coli-laced bagged spinach, consumers are growing wary of all forms of the leafy green. The FDA recently warned consumers to avoid ordering it at restaurants that could simply be removing it from bags. Natural Selection Foods, a large American grower of organic spinach, has been fingered as the outbreak's source.
Unfortunately, the scare seems to have spawned a slew of Popeye-related jokes, including the following obituary from Judge Rufus Peckham at satirical blog The Carbolic Smoke Ball: "Popeye The Sailor Man, beloved animated mariner, died of massive kidney failure yesterday after consuming a bag of raw spinach. It is believed the triple-washed, cello-packed spinach was infected with the E Coli bacteria." Runner Girl at 13.1 Mile Journey has nicknamed the event "Popeyegate"
Houstonist gives an account of another unexpected way spinach has recently ruined someone's day: "A truck driver was arrested in Fort Bend County for allegedly dumping a load of spinach and pre-packaged salad greens in the San Bernard River. Whereas this would usually just qualify as a weird story, the recent E. coli news gives it a whole new undercurrent that makes it ... well, even weirder."
Read more about the spinach scare.