Hajji doin?

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An update on Hajji, the Arabic term for "pilgrim" which has become the GWII term for "enemy": it looks like it's not just for GWII anymore. I found a Jan. 2002 usage in a short piece by Lisette Garcia, who writes,

Tampons, alarm clocks and Kodak film were easy enough for me to negotiate at the local Hajji shop. But giving a regulation haircut was simply too foreign a concept in the middle of the desert.
Garcia's talking about the original Gulf War, I think, which gives the term a bit of breathing room, at least as far as its original coiners are concerned.

There are certainly some benign usages of Hajji around, and I can easily see how soldiers, hearing Arabs, Kuwaitis, or Iraqis address each other--or their elders--as "hajji," could adopt it with clean intent. Try justifying the phrase "mowing down some hajjis," though. I dare you.

For the record, this has nothing to do with Gus Van Sant.

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That story was drawn from my experiences as a Marine serving in, yes, the first Gulf War. Hajji shop was the term in use for Arab convenience stores that sprang up around our camps. The entrepreneurs who ran them were far more willing and able to acquire and provide the most necessary quality of life items listed in my story, Buzz Cut, as opposed to the undersupplied PX (post exchange) trailers that occasionally visited the front. So, I think you missed the subtle irony in my illustration that those who were considered backward for their traditional customs were evidently progressive enough to deliver what the Western warriors could not. Namely, tampons, alarm clocks, film and blow dryers. Oh, yeah, they even got me a bikini once when liberty in the neighboring liberal country of Bahrein was arranged. But I guess that wasn't the point of the story. . .

Since 2001 here at greg.org, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting greg.org that time.

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