Media

New York Times: Those Silly Arabs! They Don't Even Know What Colors to Use!

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When will those tacky Iraqis learn? THIS is the only acceptable color for a government building!

This is the most obnoxious opening section of a news story I've read in a long time:

BAGHDAD — In downtown Baghdad, a police headquarters has been painted two shades of purple: lilac and grape. The central bank, a staid building in many countries, is coated in bright red candy cane stripes.

Multicolored fluorescent lights cover one of the city's bridges, creating a Hawaiian luau effect. Blast walls and security checkpoints stick out because they are often painted in hot pink.

Baghdad has weathered invasion, occupation, sectarian warfare and suicide bombers. But now it faces a new scourge: tastelessness.

Iraqi artists and architecture critics who shudder at each new pastel building blame a range of factors for Baghdad's slide into tackiness: including corruption and government ineptitude, as well as everyday Iraqis who are trying to banish their grim past and are unaccustomed to having the freedom to choose any color they want.

"It's happening because Iraqis want to get rid of the recent past," said Caecilia Pieri, the author of "Baghdad Arts Deco: Architectural Brickwork 1920-1950." "They see the colors as a way of expressing something new, but they don't know which colors to use. The Arab mentality is that you have to be the owner of your building, and you do what you want with it. But there are no government regulations like in Paris or Rome. It's anarchy of taste."

Maybe I'm having a case of the Mondays, but it seems to me every last thing about this article is contemptible.

Link via the Twitter feed of Daniel Hernandez, who derides the piece as "Latent 'taste' racism."