Monday, September 22, 2008

American culture pervades yet again...

It's a practice as old as war: occupation forces tend to impress their cultures on the the 'host' community, either intentionally or inadvertently. Consider, for instance, the broad appeal of SPAM in certain sectors invaded during World War II, and the bizarre cargo cults that still expect Jon Frum to return with washing machines and Coca Cola.

Most recently, the ultimate kitch has arrived in the Persian Gulf, as I discovered while shopping online for lawn ornaments. As you'll see
here, pink flamingos have made it to Iraq.

Now, I have to admit that I have been the proud owner of a pair of pink flamingos since college, when a friend and I conspired to litter the university president's lawn with them. For years, they held a place of honor in my bathroom, but more recently they've been nesting in my garage. I never once thought they could migrate to the Middle East as a morale builder for the troops. They're not really desert birds, after all --they subsist on shrimp and shellfish.

I wonder: what must the Iraqis be thinking of this? Do they curse the pink plastic birds, or do they honor them? Do they secretly covet them? Will the troops take them home when the US packs up, or will some of the petroleum Phoenicopteridae remain as invasive species? And the scariest question of all: will more flamingos start appearing in front of Iraqi homes?

And then what's next? Garden gnomes?

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