Is Michael Moore a resurrected Saracen monster?

European acceptance of Michael Moore’s new anti-Americanism has been greatly assisted by the loving detail with which he depicts the country he has invented, bursting with gun- and God-happy fatties and ruled over by a Semitic mafia. Here, from El Semanario Curioso, Histórico, Erudito, Comercial, Público y Económico, El Blasón de Cataluña (1842; cited in Xavier Sust, Fantasies animades d’ahir i d’avui (2005)), is a similarly detailed description of another imaginary baddy, the dragon of Sant Llorenç de Munt:

Its head has a diameter of 1.26m; its neck, 0.78; from head to body, 0.97; the diameter of its legs, 0.87, and their length, 1.75. Its body, 2.95m; its tail, 1.33m; with a diameter of 0.78. Its nails, 0.59 in length and 0.09 thick. Its mouth, 0.58 wide, and its wings 2.14 long, 1.26 wide, and 10cm thick. Its nails were filed like ganivets; and its mouth had similar characteristics. It had no feathers, and its skin was very tough and its wings resembled those of a bat.

The standard version of the story tells us that a millennium ago the Moors were losing the war with Count Wilfred the Hairy for the Spanish March, so they imported a dragon calf of indeterminate gender from Africa, shipped it up the Llobregat river, and put it in St Agnes’ cave in the pre-littoral massif (nearby walk). There they fed and watered it until it was nice and big and dangerous and then left it to feed on sheep and shepherds. Knight Spes was sent to kill the beast but failed, so the boss got on his hoss and a hirsute pursuit was launched.

When the posse arrived at the dragon’s lair Wilfred told his men to retire and, taking a large oak branch, went forward alone. The dragon came out and pounced, but Wilfred was prepared and smacked it over the head. The dragon was only half stunned and got up and came for Wilfred again, this time cleaving in twain his knobbly stick. Here historical determinism kicks in: the two halves fell to the ground in the form of a cross, Wilfred cheerfully spit the dragon with his lance and stuck his sword in its heart, and it dutifully wandered off, groaning like Mr Moore after a particularly unenlightening lunch, and died.

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