This Just in From the Alliance of Civilizations

This Just in From the Alliance of Civilizations

People must have been starting to wonder about the Alliance of Civilizations and its promises to prescribe a remedy that would allow the Western and Islamic worlds to resolve all their differences through dialogue, mutual tolerance and understanding. Or maybe Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, who launched the initiative three years ago, was just tired of taking flak for a project so abject and useless that not even the U.N. would go near it. Finally, though, it seems the "high-level group of eminent persons" -- that's the job title -- have got their act together. The act in question may be X-rated for language, but it's for real and it's official. They want to set up a "network of European and Latin American rappers to educate people in values and serve as ambassadors of the Alliance of Civilizations."

Rap music. That was what came out of the meeting held in Madrid March 29 and attended by people hitherto considered serious, such as former Inter-American Development Bank chief Enrique Iglesias, and, of course, senior officials of Zapatero's Foreign Ministry. Oh, yes, and they also came up with a slogan. Think hard and repeat: "Imagination as Social Capital." It's catchy, but what is it supposed to mean?

Slapped thighs and rolling eyeballs have greeted Alliance newsbreaks ever since Zapatero announced his plan to the U.N. General Assembly in September 2004. He said that in its early stages the Alliance he proposed would be co-sponsored by Spain and Turkey and eventually handed over to the United Nations for administration. A follow-up conference was held in Mallorca in November 2005, bringing together scholars, including the brilliant "freelance monotheist" Karen Armstrong, former third-tier officials from Islamic countries nobody is currently mad at, and celebrity-circuit figures like Bishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, who has described Zionism as a racist riff and claimed "people are scared in this country [the United States], to say wrong is wrong because the Jewish lobby is powerful."

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