June 4, 2002







Osama does Sesame Street

"Bert" appears in bin Laden propaganda poster

If irony died on Sept. 11, its ghostly apparition appeared in press reports a month later.

Bert, the yellow unibrowed character from Sesame Street, appeared with Osama bin Laden on posters at anti-American protests in Bangladesh and Indonesia in October.

Apparently a protester had produced posters from a collage of bin Laden pictures culled from the Internet, one of which juxtaposed the Saudi terrorist millionaire alongside the felt-headed television character.

In 1997, "Bert is Evil" became a hot web meme. Popular amateur web sites implicated Bert, a bottle cap collector and pigeon aficionado, in crimes against humanity by inserting him into photos with O.J. Simpson, the Ku Klux Klan and Adolph Hitler.

After Dutch news service Algemeen Nederlands Persbureau produced the photo of hundreds of anti-American protestors martyring Bert, hits exploded at web repository bertisevil.com.

No word yet on whether Cookie Monster escaped from Tora Bora.

The Afghan rock-eater

By the end of March, with Operation Anaconda long past and news slowing down, the AP filed one of the stranger and more amusing stories to come out of Afghanistan. A jobless vagrant named Jalat Khan had wandered up to the gates of the US military installation at the Kandahar airport, and was eating rocks, to the astonishment of the gathering crowd.

According to Khan, he began eating a pound of rocks a day three years ago and is now addicted to the habit.

Numerous dailies picked up the story, much to the chagrin of official Afghanistan. In response, the April 3rd "Mirror on the Media" column on the English-language website of the Afghani embassy (www.afghanistanembassy.org) ordered, "Enough already with the news articles about Jalat Khan! This kind of media attention ultimately embarrasses all Afghans.

"Won't someone please buy this guy a real kabob and steer sensationalistic reporters towards the millions of Afghans who are hungry for food and not publicity."

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