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Shopping is easier than jihad

Why I wonder, do so many people hate Americans? Well, they say they do, but they don't really

September 19, 2002
The Iranian

I like shopping. This is significant, given the current global situation. You know and I know, that it was a handful of brave shoppers that stopped the world from sinking into recession and sadness after 9-11.

While financiers and speculators promised a slump lasting years (millions of people putting on their cloth caps, queuing outside soup kitchens or the labour exchange), we shoppers -- three blond ladies and myself -- took on an immense responsibility and walked that extra mile to pop into Gucci. They went to Gucci, of course, and I to the local wine shop to buy 1st growth Claret.

I proved to myself -- if proof were needed -- that I am not just a selfish member of the bourgeoisie, addicted to pleasure. I toasted my philanthropy with a magnificent 1985 Chateau Prieurs de la Commanderie. It certainly made my boiled pasta more palatable, while my Arab flat-mate no longer seemed odious after a couple of glasses. I should have had him whipped in the street on 9-11 when he impudently suggested the Americans had it coming.

Why I wonder, do so many people hate Americans? Well, they say they do, but they don't really. You know that and I do too. Protesting American excesses is a mere banality, and I would ask, is it excess we deplore, or just American excess?

I hear too many complaints about American unilateral actions and not half as many about the unilateral torture and murder of citizens by the kleptocratic and murderous regimes that make up the United Nations General Assembly. United Nations indeed: don't make me laugh. They're only there to beg; they have contributed nothing to my shopping expenses.

Why don't we hear anybody complaining about that thief Mugabe and other African carpetbaggers who smugly censure "colonial" powers? Silly question of course: they're Black, so just keep quiet. Mrs. Mugabe, that's Grace to her friends, likes to shop in London and Paris but it's not her fault people are starving in Mugabeland or whatever it's called. It's the fault of the British, those wily villains. She has been belatedly banned from Europe following her husband's understandable excesses (like "cutting" opposition down to size with machetes - very exotic).

The same goes for the much-maligned General Pinochet. If you piously spit venom at the mention of his name, as I know the smug little commissars among you do, then spare some of your spittle for worse murderers, like blood-red Lenin, henchman Stalin or the piffle-ridden vermin in Colombia known as FARC, who kidnap and murder the people they have promised to liberate.

Or how about Castro, who is to persistence what the Wall of China is to length? Why did you socialists have to come and ruin it all for the rest of us? Why did you hate champagne, chandeliers and shopping, except for large sausages produced on collective farms?

A friend of mine (most amusingly) has composed a mock-Russian version of an Ode to the Collective Farm, or that 1930's hit, Ode to the Tractor. He's currently rehearsing Ode to the Sweaty Peasant Girl, though I wonder if that's a genuine Soviet tune.

Many Iranians -- you know who you are -- used to be communist sympathisers or Mojaheds or whatever. You wanted to turn Iran into a collective choir singing the praises of a mustachioed tyrant (Oh, so that's what it's about, the mustache, you're thinking). I say to you, most respectfully, I would piss on your graves. No, not really, but there's chutzpah for you.

Don't you go thinking shopping is easy though? If you do, you are clearly no Saturday shopper in London's Oxford Street, where mothers use prams as assault vehicles. They ram double-decker buses once the prams are laden with shopping (mostly cheaper items from Marks and Spencer - bras, "Safari" shorts, that type of thing).

This reminds me of another friend who (amusingly) had a T-shirt with the slogan, "Out of My Way I'm Shopping". She was a big girl, so the joke, I feel, was far more amusing than it might have been in ordinary circumstances.

So what, you're thinking? I would only say this: shopping makes a difference. Mullah Omar never took the family to Oxford Street on a Saturday. He might have found some bargains if he had (a Sari for her, Khaki trousers for him).

Aside witnessing some of the most desperate close-quarter, woman to woman passive-aggressive fighting ever, he would also have ended up in Starbucks, eating one of their chocolate fudge brownies, which look fresh and harmless but transubstantiate into a lump of clay in your stomach. You can hardly move after one of those, let alone start a jihad.

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