Two small footnotes to one aspect of Bush's wasteful and unnecessary visit to Rome. The day before he arrived someone scrawled an anti-Bush message on a stone designed to commemorate the murder of the Christian Democrat leader Aldo Moro and the five members of his escort by the Red Brigades, almost certainly with the connivance of some elements of the state. The message said Bush = Moro.
It would hard to imagine a more meaningless comparison. Moro was a master of the Byzantine art of Italian politics, the man who engineered the historic compromise between his own party and the Italian Communist Party, a man of culture and intellectual subtlety. I don't need to explain how far removed from all this the swaggering nincompoop who currently runs America is.
If the intention was merely to suggest that Bush should meet a similar end to Moro, of course, it's hard not to feel a little sympathy for the mystery graffitist, though I'd have appreciated something more focused. Interpretation, as we know, is all.
The other interesting thing about the business is the use by the Italian media of the word profane. Newspapers and television reporters all agree that the stone was profaned. According to Merriam-Webster, to profane is "to treat (something sacred) with abuse, irreverence, or contempt". Moro's death was a political crime of the worst kind, the slaughter of his escort both cruel and useless. But that doesn't make him, or them, sacred. Moro wasn't a saint and his death wasn't the death of a martyr, apart from anything else because it wasn't self-willed. Moro didn't choose to die.
This inappropriate use of the word is just another example of the way the line between church and state is being blurred. As ever, to the benefit of the church.