I was mildly startled to learn that the ever-practical shemagh apparently has become the latest haute couture for fashion trend-setters.

You know, I kind of figured that the Squeals and the Fakers would have adopted the uber-tactical shemagh first, but apparently Paris, New York and Hollywood beat them to it.

For those of you who may not be up on commando or Middle Eastern wear, the shemagh is a square of two-colour cotton cloth running just shy of four feet to a side.

The SAS has been wearing them since WWII, and our boys -n- girls on the ground in Afghanistan and Iraq are learning just how handy this piece of gear is.

Since us boys inherited Mom’s pale skin, light eyes and red hair (hell, vampires think we got a raw deal when is comes to harsh sunlight) whenever Dad was assigned to a desert contract, extended visits away from the shelter of buildings always involved carrying at least one of these scarves each — just in case.

When I hit my teenage years, I was fascinated to discover that if I wore a fully-wrapped shemagh, aviator glasses and gloves, when I walked through a souq (market), people acted radically different around me than when I walked through as an obvious Westerner.

I had known that they would, of course, I just hadn’t realized how extensive the difference would be. Fun days.

Right now, I probably have half-a-dozen (or more) of these scarves around the house and vehicles.

And now, the fashionistas have adopted it — only they’re calling it a keffiyah — and I get the feeling they’re wearing them more as a political statement than because of utility and comfort. Something about them expressing solidarity with Palestine and Iraq.


Should I break the news to them that they’re also expressing solidarity with the British SAS, who started wearing the shemagh in WWII — five or so years before there was an Israel for the Palestinians to get their knickers in a knot over — or that they’re expressing solidarity with the troopies on the dirt in the Middle East (who are finding the shemagh just as handy now as I found it during my stays in the same region Many Moons Ago)?

Nah. Let the moonbats have their illusions. The Real World is going to shatter those illusions sooner-or-later, and who am I to get in the way?


Quick, before she comes to her senses!
Run that by me again?

13 thoughts on “Who’dathunkit?”

  1. “The Hitchhiker’s Guide…”

    I sass that hoopy LawDog. There’s a frood who really knows where his shemagh is.

    Sorry, couldn’t help it. H2G2 references do that to me.

  2. The shemagh/keffiyeh as “fashionable support for the Palestinians” has been around for quite a while. I remember seeing them worn by college-age people back in the 80’s and 90’s, mainly as a scarf for that PLO freedom-fighter look. Which, though I hate to admit it, has a certain scruffy revolutionary chic charm.

  3. extremely utilitarian. I call it the terrorist shroud and wear mine whenever the weather chills down in Houston. My hunting buddies definitely think I am nuts for keeping one with my hunting gear. They’re pretty cheap to get at the local army surplus store.

  4. I’ve used one ever since Desert Storm. Extremely practical, and ever so annoying to those who do see it only as a political statement. We get so much rain here that keeping water off of the neck is a comfort priority.

  5. I prefer a… a… oh, whaddayacallit, a bandanna. The old-fashioned kind that’s actually useful, like cowboys used, that measures a full 30″ x 30″. It’s, you know, ‘Murican, and has the advantage of not causing people confusion and to think you’re expressing ‘solidarity’ with terrorist murderers.

    It’s very froody.

  6. In most of the Arab world, the proper name for the head covering is the keffiyah; only illiterate peasants call it a shemagh. However, a lot of the Bedouins (and the Saudis, whom go way way back with the Brits) call the lacy skullcap some Muslims wear underneath the headwrap a keffiyah, so they used to use the term shemagh so as to reduce confusion. Now, even middle-income Saudis call it a keffiyah (which is confusing as all get out since they still call the skullcap the same thing). In some dialects, your everyday workin’-in-the-fields headwrap is a shemagh and the fancy one your sheikh wears is a keffiyah. The big difference seems to be that the shemagh is still somewhat practical, as it is long and durable enough to wrap around your face and block out the sand, while the dressy one is a bit too short and flimsy for such things.

  7. Good one, Phoenix!

    There are undoubtedly areas of this great land where wearing one of those things would earn you an unfortunate accident. Personally, I wouldn’t try it while ratel hunting in any red state.

    – NF

  8. vjilbxThere are a couple of squadrons of “illiterate peasants” here in the SAS that call their sweatrag thing a “shemagh”.
    Wanna argue?

  9. Also – when dining out(rough) – they make a very handy makeshift tablecloth. If you are up for that amount of culture when trying to sort out compo rations

  10. Could be very useful here in Phoenix during the monsoon. When the sandstorms come through it can get a uncomfortable.

  11. I wonder what you think about the whole michelle malkin dunkin donuts fracas involving keffiyas in a commercial with rachel ray?

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