Friday, March 07, 2003

"A curse on your moustache"

Is apparently a serious insult in Arab parts of the world (David Chater, "'Monkey' insult one in a minion", The Australian 7 March (originally The Times); no URL ). Not being a fan of facial hair at all myself, I'm glad I don't live where this phrase [a Google virgin, BTW] might be reasonably common parlance. I could live (I think) with the social ostracism that presumably comes with being a clean-shaven man, but I don't think that I could ever hear "a curse on your moustache!" without falling down from convulsive laughter. Which act may, I suspect, be viewed extremely dimly by the average man on Arab street.

And how can a duly-cursed moustache get any worse, anyway? The pix illustrating the story show that the (Kuwati) cursee's moustache is already as droopy as a moustache can surely get (while, for what it's worth, the Iraqi curser's moustache is only moderately awful).

Which loosely segues (?) into the curious, topical matter of American actors speaking in fake Arab accents:

Like white actors going blackface, I think that a home-grown Yank speaking in a fake Arab accent is very rarely a good idea - they are similarly offensive, and in several different, major ways. Yet, after having a brief trawl through the Yahoo message board on this news story, I was struck by the fundamental lack of comprehension of this fact, by seemimgly all posters (who also seemed to be entirely (non-Arab) American). Not that there was a barrage of furious agreement, or anything like that, on the board. Instead, most people took positions - strident, angry positions - that were just apropros of nothing.

Together, they amount to a bleak barometric reading on the current state of the US national consciousness. The enemy is not just inside the citadel, the enemy is inside their heads. For an example:

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