Among the many complaints about the new Iraqi flag introduced yesterday was that indigenous Iraqis had no say in whether the original one should be discarded, much less the design of the new one. “This is a new era,” said Hamid al-Kafaei, the spokesman for the Iraqi Governing Council yesterday. “We cannot continue with Saddam’s flag.” Apparently, the so-called “coalition” didn’t consult anyone. “So far, we haven’t received anything about this from Baghdad,” said Igor Novichenko, who is in charge of such matters in the UN’s protocol unit. Among local Iraqis, reactions range from the disgusted:
Dhurgham, a 23-year-old student, said: We cheered Iraqi footballers under that flag for a long time. I feel it represents me as an Iraqi. I don’t like this new flag. It does not look Iraqi. It is more like the Turkish or Israeli flags. The main reason I don’t like it is that it comes from the Americans. (04/28/04 Independent UK)
To the violently disgusted:
What gives these people the right to throw away our flag, to change the symbol of Iraq? asked Salah, a building contractor of normally moderate political opinions. It makes me very angry because these people were appointed by the Americans. I will not regard the new flag as representing me but only traitors and collaborators.
Although the CPA’s claims that the new design is from a contest winner, the designer himself revealed that he was unaware of any contest.
The new flag is the work of an Iraqi artist resident in London called Rifat Chadirji whose design was the best of those considered. He is also the brother of Nassir al-Chaderchi, the chairman of the IGC committee charged with choosing a new flag for Iraq. I had no idea about a competition to design the flag. “My brother just called me and asked me to design a flag on behalf of the IGC. Nobody told me about a competition,” Mr Chadirji told The Independent yesterday. (04/28/04 Independent UK)
But this may be a situation where the CPA isn’t lying, only mostly-lying. There was something of a contest, but it was restricted to the same creative geniuses that came up with the bold plan to invade an unarmed nation to disarm them of non-existent weapons, the military plan to smack around the citizenry for an indefinite period of time and the sensitive cultural strategies to make them like it. Here’s what Sadly, No!’s crack team of muckrakers discovered.
This is Iraq’s original flag, rendered in red, green and black, the three colors of Islam. The color scheme predates the regime of Saddam Hussein but the Arabic text, which says Alu Akbar, or “God is Great”, was added by Hussein when he became more serious about his religion. Iraqis regard the flag as their own rather than Hussein’s or the Ba’ath party’s, and don’t understand why the occupation’s representatives, the CPA, discarded it without consulting them.No one is sure why designing a new flag was a priority over, say, revealing just exactly who Iraq will be be turned over to in 8 weeks.
The new Iraqi flag features two parallel blue stripes along the bottom, at first thought to represent the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, but on closer analysis more evocative to Iraqis of the vise-like grip unarmed Iraq is under from nuclear-armed US and Israel. The yellow strip in between represents the Kurds, the only Iraqi community that fully supports the US presence, nestled within the protection of the WMD-possessing presences in the region. This amounts to a flagular neener neener from the Kurds to the 80 percent of Iraqis who are Arabs and not represented on the flag. The blue crescent, symbolic of Islam, but not rendered in Islamic colors of red, black or green, serves to remind Iraqis that they can be forced to do anything, even accept the doo-wop classic Blue Moon by The Marcels as the national anthem, if the occupiers so desire.
This modified version of the discarded original flag was proposed by an anonymous corporation. The following is from their contest proposal:
“We hope to bridge two cultures using a shared love of wholesome fresh-baked goodness, representing family, and convenient petroleum-based artificial frozen doughlike matter, representing the oil of Iraq and the dough our corporation can make from it. The crescent roll incorporates the logo of Islam rolled in dough, also representing the potentially huge profits available to us in this huge market if observant Muslims associate serving crescents with their daily prayer breaks — something they must do up to five times a day. The friendly little mascot, which sports a traditional Shiite turban and white beard, is just like a little tribal elder. He’s a friendly, familiar figure, especially to children. He’s always hanging around the kitchen, making inane comments and getting in the way but there’s nothing you can do about it, also representing family.”
A frustrated State Department official reminded assembled reporters holding free boxes of the product that religions don’t “have logos”, and tersely declined to comment when they asked why he hated the wholesome fresh-baked goodness of hot crescent rolls. A Bush campaign spokesperson and influential presence on the judges’ panel said that a big donation hinged on the the flag’s slogan being changed from “Allah is great!” to “Crescents are great! Hoo hoooooooo.” At this point several reporters from Arab media walked out in protest, apparently in a hatred of our freedoms and love of fresh-baked wholesome goodness.
PNAC members of the Pentagon’s influential citizens’ advisory clique celebrated so loudly when they saw the Israeli flag included among the final entries that they didn’t hear it was only there for color comparison to the eventual winner.
Still, they were overjoyed to see the official PNAC contest entry among the finalists. It shows the Star of David, representing Israel, and an adorable gas pump, representing the role of the new Iraq in the Middle East, displayed together like two happy new friends existing in great joy and mutual respect, apparently holding hands.
Secretary Rumsfeld’s personal entry reflects the fabulous success of his efficient, low-cost military strategy for occupying a strategic Muslim country unilaterally, with a light, flexible force that won’t cost the taxpayer anything if you don’t count the ballooning $200 billion it’s cost to date. The crescent moon of Islam, rendered in black, represents the Iraqi oil resources which will happily fund the occupation and reconstruction.
The bar represents, literally, a bar, normally forbidden in Muslim countries (which ban alcohol use) but which will soon become a familiar sight as thirsty G.I.’s drown their sorrows over being stuck in a never-ending occupation of a hot, hostile desert land. The bar also represents the many stripper poles which will appear with the permanent military presence. The crescent moon on the pole signifies the grateful Iraqi women who will take advantage of these exciting new job opportunities that culturally free them from the dreary masculine professions of architecture and engineering they previously filled but are now being done by American men. (The moon is a traditional symbol of women in religions and myths throughout the now hugely safer world.) The line of stars represents the occupying soldiers confidently holding off the Iraq insurgency all around them, represented by the two red stripes. “No, our boys aren’t surrounded by bloodthirsty insurgents” Rummy told reporters. “The Iraqis are gathered like people watching a glorious, patriotic parade and the red represents the rose petals they’re gonna damn well throw even if we have to mow every motherlovin’ one of them down and use the flowers from their goddamn funerals.”
The CIA entry uses an experimental pictographic language called Happy Fun Picto-Speak to represent phonetically the pronunciation of Iraq on the familiar backdrop of the original flag. Intelligence services working in the region hope to retrain the population to write and speak certain phrases using Happy Fun Picto-Speak to make spying on them easier.
Shortly after the CIA entry was unveiled, Al Jazeera aired an entry rendered in Happy Fun Picto-Speak from an anonymous Iraqi citizens’ group, proposing to fly it as the interim flag until every last member of the foreign occupying forces leaves Iraq. CIA analysts continue to be baffled but any spooks reading this can find the answer in the extension.
Update: An older and wiser person corrected me on the name of the group that sang Blue Moon. Not my era, but doo-wop sounds great to me. (My ears enjoy time travel.)
Answer: Go home, you cocksuckers.