Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Georgia Continues to Make Me Smile

Georgia can make me happy like few other countries. Not because they necessarily always do things right, but because they always do things differently. By trying to find clever solutions to their problems, they make themselves into a fun little test-case. Saakashvili's patent disregard for internal protests in order to appease the Washington money chute may appear in the goofiest of ways. I find it really endearing.

Take a new law coming up, giving protected status to minority religions in Georgia: the Muslim and Jewish communities, the Roman Catholic Church, Armenian Apostolic Church and Evangelical Baptist Church.

This is weird because Georgia is 84% Georgian Orthodox,  10% Muslim, 4% Armenian Orthodox, and 1% Catholic. The rest is a hodgepodge of Jews, Baptists sure, but also Old Believers, Yezidis, Lutherans, et al. While I'm a pretty big fan of religious tolerance, I find it amusing to see how people pick and choose their tolerances.

These six groups were chosen because they have "deep historic ties" to the Georgian land, if not the Georgian state (which is Georthodox above all, as any skyline of Tblisi could show you). But Evangelicals? Really? They came in after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Misha's Georgian state apparatus is smart. They know that a lot of their reputation isn't just standing up to Russian authoritarianism, whatever that means. And its not just fighting terror, Pankisi Gorge besides. But it's also being a model republic in a checkered land, and THAT means protecting the check-box minorities. Absurdistan (which, it seems, has a purty new cover) does a hilarious send-up of "We are friends of the Jews!" but Evangelicals are just as important if you're trying to get money from certain establishments. A friend of God is a friend of the US, of course. It's amusing to see Georgia kowtowing to that.

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