The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Behold! Donald Trump and the mysterious glowing orb.

Trump opens Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology with Egypt's al-Sissi, Saudi Arabia's Salman (Video: The Washington Post)

When President Trump laid hands on the glowing Saudi mystery orb, he pledged allegiance to “Its Luminescence,” summoned the forces of Sauron to take over Middle-earth and created an “army of Moderate Muslims to fight terror.”

He did none of that, of course. It would be fake news to say otherwise.

But the conjuring up of magic and memes became irresistible the moment Trump, shrouded in darkness, dared to gaze upon the globe of light, nay, dared to actually touch it.

Aren’t orbs forbidden?

“I’ve been told the orb is called Loc-Nar and is the embodiment of all evil,” tweeted Bullneck.

“Surrender, Superman or all of Metropolis will be destroyed,” wrote Oliver Willis.

In reality, the president was inaugurating the Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology in Riyadh, alongside the Saudi king and Egyptian president, in a ceremony that felt more like the opening credits for the game show “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.”

Trailed by a sea of people in suits and head coverings, the three men walked on a wide red carpet into a dark room. A bright spotlight illuminated them as they surrounded the glowing glass the size of a kickball.

When the trio placed their palms to it, a white runway suddenly lit up, revealing dozens of men sitting behind computers at small cubicles. There was more dramatic music and applause. Even the first lady got in on the action.

Then a woman speaking English and a man speaking Arabic explained the purpose of the center, which will digitally monitor extremist activities online, employing specialists in radical ideology and hate speech as analysts. The approach is based on a model used in the United Arab Emirates, according to Axios.

“We want to convey a message to the West and the world that the Muslim world is not an enemy,” Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir said, as reported by the Saudi-owned Al Arabiya.

More than 200 data analysts work at the center.

During the ceremony, for nearly a full two minutes, the statesmen’s hands stayed glued to the glow.

But forget all that.

Remember instead Hydra, the fictional terrorist group of the Marvel Comics universe that used futuristic weapons to seek world domination. The similarities between the Saudi orb and Hydra’s “Cosmic Cubes,” which transform wishes into reality were so obvious.

Remember that part in “A Thousand And One Arabian Nights,” the legendary collection of Middle Eastern and South Asian folk tales, when the old man Cohen Al-Abtan instructs his grandsons to discover the treasure of Al-Shamardal and bring him the celestial orb?

Case Western Reserve University professor Peter A. Shulman did.

“If he is angry with a city and wants to burn it, he need only point the orb toward the sun and say, ‘Let such and such a city be burned,’ and that city will be consumed with fire.”

Of course “Magic: The Gathering” and its plethora of orbs got a shout-out. For the uninitiated, “Magic: The Gathering” is a card game that started in the 1990s and remains popular today. Players battle each other using spells, creatures and objects depicted on the cards.

As one woman pointed out on Twitter, the fictional universe contains orbs that summon chaos, stunt rivals’ battlefield abilities and offer protection.

“Are we sure we know which one we’re dealing with here,” she posited.

The Wizard of Oz received mention, too, and it wasn’t even comparing the glowing runway to the yellow brick road. One user posted an image of the Wicked Witch of the West and one of her winged monkeys crouched over a crystal ball, peering at helpless Dorothy.

There was a Lord of the Rings reference:

Indiana Jones got a somewhat tangential nod:

And even Breitbart got in on the action:

Trump’s first trip overseas as president

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (L) sits next to Tunisia's President Beji Caid Essebsi (C) and speaks to U.S. President Donald Trump (R) as they attend a G7 expanded session during the G7 Summit in Taormina, Sicily, Italy, May 27, 2017. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY (Philippe Wojazer/Reuters)

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