When I went to Ramadan's event in the Palazzo d'Arco, I had just finished reading Osama Bin Laden's latest anniversary prose-poem. Here, too, are signs of an act being cleaned up. He brags of the murders of Sept. 11, of course (thus inconveniencing all those who attribute them to Mossad or some mysterious other agency), but he does not forget to cite Noam Chomsky, CIA maverick Michael Scheuer, and the Oliver Stone theory of the JFK assassination. He also exhibits concern for the global-warming crisis, the fate of American Indians, and even the recent collapse of the subprime mortgage market. Everything he says about the war in Iraq, right up to the affected concern for the civilian and military casualties, is presented as if he had hired one of Michael Moore's screenwriters as a consultant. Most unctuous of all, he reminds his audience that the Quran has a whole section in praise of the Virgin Mary, an ecumenical point that I had noticed before. (It is typical of monotheisms to plagiarize each other's worst features, from Abraham onward.) I think that this pitch is probably too crude and crass to work, but it's exactly the crudeness and crassness of Bin Laden that require the emergence of more "credible" middlemen to allay anxiety and offer reassurance. Only six years on, and already the soft mainstreaming of Islamic imperialism is under way.