President Donald Trump is currently in the middle of a big trip to the Middle East, but over the weekend, one event outshone all the others. Oh yeah, we’re talking about the glowing orb.
On Sunday, Trump attended the opening of a new Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, with King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. During the ceremony, Trump, Abdulaziz, and al-Sisi officially opened the center by touching a large glowing orb, because apparently just cutting a ribbon wouldn’t do it, and here we are.
The orb was actually a large illuminated globe, and the cabal of world leaders caressing it was supposed to be a message of unity in the face of extremist terror groups like ISIS. Instead, well, the internet kinda freaked out, mostly because the whole thing really, really looked like some extremely weird Illuminati behavior, and at this point in Trump’s absolutely bonkers first year, nobody really knows what’s going on. Here’s the official Church of Satan saying they don’t want anything to do with it either.
The problem here was that before it happened, nobody was told that Trump would be touching an orb. Sure, anyone who wants to stay sane has effectively given up on guessing what Trump will do at any given time, but for some reason the glowing orb was a step too far for the internet. Heck, even Trump himself looks like he’s not 100 percent cool with putting his notoriously germophobic hands on some unknown object (King Salman is FEELING IT, though). Local media like the Saudi Gazette explained a bit more: touching the orb “officially activated the center and launched a splashy welcome video.” Here’s a tweet with a different angle of the center that shows at least press on the ground were warned of the orb ceremony.
But for a casual viewer tuning into TV coverage of Trump’s Riyadh trip, there wasn’t a lot of context, and once the striking image of Freaky Glowing Orb Ritual starts flying around, well, all bets are off.
Some people brought up the fact that Trump has often contradicted his own campaign messaging.
Of course, it took almost no time at all for the supervillain comparisons to start rolling in.
Even Breitbart News, Trump’s favorite Greek chorus, acknowledged that things were getting weird.
What’s funny is touching a globe is probably the most innocuous thing Trump did that weekend. According to the Saudi Gazette, the new center will employ about 200 analysts who will focus on extremist messaging and online activity. The center’s main feature is a giant wall of screens displaying a real-time feed of extremist activity on social media.
When he wasn’t participating in opening rituals with two other world leaders who have been accused of being despots, Trump also signed the largest arms deal in U.S. history, which included several high-tech weapons systems and precision munitions, which will undoubtedly be used to further Saudi Arabia’s brutal proxy war in Yemen, a devastatingly violent conflict that human rights groups say has devolved into a humanitarian nightmare. Sure, it looks bad for a world leader who ran on a neo-isolationist platform of resisting globalism to be seen rubbing a glowing globe in the Middle East, but the Saudi arms deal is undoubtedly going to cause a lot more damage than a freaky photo op with a glorified nightlight.