We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

My bosom swells with pride

Oi, Robert Fisk, John Pilger, Will Self, Clare Short, Robin Cook, Tony Benn, Margo Kingston, Michael Moore, Sean Penn, Noam Chomsky, the Dixie Chicks, Susan Sontag, Maureen Dowd, Susan Sarandon, Martin Sheen, Jacques Chirac, Gerhard Schroeder, Robin Williams, Harold Pinter, Vanessa Redgrave, Clare Short, the entire BBC and all the rest of the ‘Not In My Name’ mob, would you kindly cop an eyeful of this:

Just how many messages can be gleaned from this glorious photograph? Loads I imagine but three that readily spring to mind are the fall of a murderous thug regime, the utter contempt of its victims for the moral cripples, dunderheads and sixties re-treads that tried so hard to prevent it and, strangely no less stirring to me, the hilarious and highly appropriate public appearance of the ‘W’ word.

Seems that we did not just British soldiers to Iraq, we also sent British expletives and, to their credit, the Iraqis have wasted no time whatsoever in adopting it and employing to maximum effect. The image proves that not only have the Iraqis learned the word but they also know exactly what it means.

I like to think that we Brits have now added yet another component to the rich tapestry of Middle-Eastern culture and it reinforces my belief that the pithy, seductive quality of this word will continue to fuel its steady but relentless conquest of the Anglosphere, the Middle-East, the World and, who knows, maybe even beyond.

It is at times like this that all the speculation about possible encounters with alien species from other planets comes to mind. I am not sure that such an event will ever come to pass and I am quite positive that I will no longer be around to witness it even if it does. But I am willing to bet green money in the here and now that, within weeks of that first, portentious, epoch-making encounter, said aliens will be calling each other ‘wanker’.

15 comments to My bosom swells with pride

  • TomD

    Forgive me my ignorance, but as an American from the S.E. (Georgia), I know vaguely that “wanker” means something pejorative but I’m not sure what exactly. I suspect that it roughly corresponds to the somewhat delicate Americanism “a**-hole”, but I’m not certain. Could you expand on this for your culturally deprived cousins?

  • TomD,

    I believe that the American equivalent of ‘wanker’ is ‘jerk-off’.

  • Madhu

    Sadly, those to whom the message is addressed have all the mental rigidity of twelve thousand Russian built bunkers. This ‘bunker buster’ will only have damaged the surface :).

  • Zordek 90


    Thank you, Terran, for the addition to our celestial vocabulary!


    Our Hive-Mind relates — It is to laugh!


  • blabla

    I hate to burst your bubble, but this is my theory:

    The sign originally belonged to British human shields, at which time it said, “Go home, you US wankers.” Then it came into possession of Iraqis (or military personnel who gave it to Iraqis) who added the “Human Shields” part onto the sign.

  • There’s also the sad thought it might have been a message written _by_ erstwhile human shields, addressed to US troops.

    I’m just full of doom and gloom, aren’t I?

  • David Packer

    Surely it was mischievious of you to put Ms Short on your list David. She is, even as we speak, gearing up to play the role only she can play.

    She will go to Iraq and make those poor ,wretched, toothless crones, afflicted by decades of oppression and war, feel that little bit more attractive…

  • Russ Goble

    Damn British cultural imperialism. Where does it stop?

  • sarah

    I saw this live on Fox and these 2 actually posed for photos w/US Marines. Check out this blog for a Pic(scroll down). It looks like the banner was preprinted with HUMANSHIELDS. maybe the shields brought it with them to Iraq.

  • John

    I’m confused at the notion that ‘wanker’ is a new British term…. It’s been a perjorative in the states for over a decade, I first encountered it in pop-culture from ‘Married With Children’.

    Peggy’s family was from ‘Wanker County’.

    Mind, this was first pop-culture reference. I’ve heard the term most of my life (30+), and yeah, it roughly means jerk-off.

    Not that I’m saying it isn’t British, just that it isn’t recent…..

  • I spent 3 years in London, then came back to the States 9 years ago. I learned the term during my stay, of course, but have also noticed it increasingly used in predominantly educated circles – those with presumably wide cultural exposure – to mean here what it means in England.

    Mondy Python has had a lot of influence on parts of American culture.

  • Charlie

    I believe Sarah is on the right track regarding the sign’s origins. My understanding is that the human shields brought professionally printed, easily readable banners with them that said, simply, “HUMAN SHIELDS.” That way, in the unlikely event that they ever did wind up in harm’s way (a possibility that sent 99% of their colleagues scurrying home), they’d be less likely to be mistaken for hostiles and consequently shot at. Call it the equivalent of the deer hunter’s orange vest.

    While it’s not inconceivable that the Iraqi “editors” of the sign are fluent in colloquial European English, it’s likely that they had a little editorial input from a helpful Brit soldier-turned-proofreader. One more reason this American is proud to have the cream of my nation’s armed defenders sharing the battlefield with the jacks-of-all-trades of vaunted Albion! 😉

  • Doh! I meant “Monty”, not “Mondy”.

  • François G.

    As a matter of fact, that sign was brought pre-printed by the so-called “human shields” AND edited later by those very same cretins. The message was thus:

    “we ARE the Human Shields [as you could have guessed from the blank stares on our faces] and we wish YOU to go home, you w…”

    I saw them on French TV wave it in front of US troops, calling them child murderers, etc.

    It must have been taken up later by Iraqis who may not have understood what it meant but noticed that journalists laughed at it, and took pictures as they naturally believed that the expletive referred to the “human shields” it mentioned.

    The latter were actually the ones who had come up with the term; but no one who hadn’t seen them wawing that sign could imagine that it referred to anyone but themselves.

  • François G.

    “No one” BUT blabla, and mark who is a genius for he guessed it exactly right.