There’s some loony Indonesian witch doctor trying to put a voodoo curse on GW Bush. While I can sympathize with the sentiment, the method is a stupid waste of time (except, perhaps, that it has gotten the witch doctor in the news, so maybe it’s just a high-tech way to drum up business)—and it’s not something anyone could take seriously.
Or so I thought, until a link on Alicublog led me to this fairly well known wingnut, Rod Dreher. He starts out with some offensive macho colonialist remarks, punctuated with a description of this well known scene:
One of my favorite scenes in all of cinema is in one of the Indiana Jones movies, the first I think, when some grand, scimitar-wielding assassin leaps in front of Indy inside a souk, does some whoop-de-do presentation with his sword as a prelude to chopping the American to bits. Indy, unperturbed, laconically pulls out his revolver and blows the dude away.
Personally, I have mixed feelings about that scene—it’s not just a commentary about the superiority of Western technology, but also personifies the casual destruction of non-Western peoples by the European side of the world. But OK, go with the flow, it’s a cartoonish movie that probably doesn’t warrant that kind of cultural concern…and since Dreher started this with the silly witch doctor story, he’s probably talking about the inefficacy of old ideas against new technology and science.
Nevertheless, I can’t honestly say I don’t believe this stuff can work. If you want to disbelieve in it with ease, don’t hang out with exorcists, or talk with people intimately familiar with the occult. I’ll be praying for the president’s safety, though I would have done so the minute he got there, given how jihadi-infested Indonesia is. I wish he weren’t going, frankly.
What? I read that as Dreher siding with the occultists, supernaturalists, and religious with the Indonesian witch doctor in believing that magic might work. These two procedures are identical in their effectiveness:
Ki Gendeng Pamungkas slit the throat of a goat, a small snake and stabbed a black crow in the chest, stirred their blood with spice and broccoli before drank the “potion” and smeared some on his face.
I’ll be praying for the president’s safety
The one on the left does have a lot more “whoop-de-do”, but both are indistinguishable otherwise—they’re invocations of invisible supernatural spirits. I therefore think it’s appropriate that we take a “crunchy con” like Dreher about as seriously as we do Ki Gendeng Pamungkas—as a kook, a joke, a rather laughable and backwards clown, a silly political punchline. Maybe we can start calling him “Mr Bone-Through-the-Nose”, too. Ooga-booga.