< link rel="DCTERMS.isreplacedby" href="http://www.timothygoddard.com/blog" /> The Flag of the World

The Flag of the World

-G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

This here blog is a glimpse or two or three at the condition of the 'fortress of our family' through the eyes Timothy Goddard, a Christian writer with an unhealthy interest in politics living in the Puget Sound area.

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Wednesday, April 09, 2003


Flag-wrapping a tyrant
Things are going very well today--in Bizzarro World, of course, that means things are going terribly. Unfortunately, the only thing the Left has really been able to complain about is the picture below of Marines wrapping an American flag around the Saddam statue's head. They took it off soon afterwards and put an Iraqi flag up, until they knocked it down, but even a moment or two or three has been too much for the angry lefties and betrayed Arabs for whom today has been a bad day. In a half-sensible column, Robert Kaplan at Slate writes (in the non-sensible portion):
Oh, no; it's getting worse. Marines are getting up on the statue to pull it down themselves. One of them has draped an American flag over Saddam's head. What a moron! The very picture of neo-colonialism, which will make front pages all over the Arab world. Now he's taking off the American flag. No doubt, someone from Centcom, watching CNN, phoned the officer on the scene to chew him out and remind him of the orders against such displays.

A big sigh. Is this scene a sad symbol of the Iraqi people's helplessness, after 30 years of brutal dictatorship, to master their own fate? Is this an equally sad symbol of America's inability to liberate without conquering? Will the Iraqis need outside forces to oust not merely Saddam but the figments of his rule? Will the Americans help them without too strong a stench of arrogance?

Now, what's wrong with this picture? At first, I thought, nothing. I mean, obviously myself and these more left-tilted writers and Arabs have very different perspectives, and it's allowable for them to draw different conclusions about such an action. After all, I myself praised the military for not renaming Baghdad International Airport Bush International Airport. But then, suddenly, something struck me.

Why is it that wrapping a US flag around Saddam's head is 'the very picture of neo-colonialism?' It wasn't an Iraqi landmark, it was a Saddam Hussein landmark. If today has taught us anything, it's that, earlier assertions to the contrary, Saddam is not Iraq, and Iraq is not Saddam. Wrapping a flag around Saddam's head has nothing to do with our attitude towards the Iraqi people, and everything to do with our attitude towards Saddam. I think this is indicative of a common thread running through the thinking of both many Arabs and many on the left--and a downright bigoted one.

It again relates to the idea of monoliths--and this time, the faces people give to the monoliths. The anti-war movement was unable to differentiate between Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi people--many going so far as to call them "his" people or "his" country. Arabs and left-wingers alike refused to accept Bush's assertion that this war was on Saddam Hussein, not on Iraq. It was consistently referred to by these people as "the war on Iraq," not "the war in Iraq," and certainly not "the liberation of Iraq." For one reason or another, they couldn't bring themselves to seperate the country with its terrorizer.

The American left objected loudly and often to any reference to "America" partaking in the war, what with the "not in my name" business and a compulsive need to remind foreigners that "we don't all support Bush, you know." Now, by whatever demented liberal imagination you may want to stretch, Bush was elected far more legitimately than Saddam, yet the Iraqi people get stuck with him being their symbol, and the American people shouldn't have Bush? Ahh, but that's because it's their culture to be ruled by a fascist dictator who takes all his moves from Stalin's playbook. They're backwards brown people, they can't handle representative government like we can.

Ugh. It makes me sick. Wrap that flag boys--he's killed plenty of your brothers, you deserve it. Now, wrap the Iraqi flag--a proud symbol once more. Now, knock it down, and let the Iraqi people be their own figurehead.
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