Cultural Revolutions

Iraqi Soccer Team

The Olympics have come and gone, having returned to Athens for the 28th installment of the modern games.  Besides being an occasion for the inglorious introduction of women’s wrestling, the defiant proclamation of Soviet superiority by a defeated Russian gymnast, and the (welcome) assurance that the overpaid NBA players will no longer be referred to as the “Dream Team,” they served as a fine kickoff for what President George W. Bush, during his speech at the Republican National Convention, dubbed the “Liberty Century.”  And could there be a better symbol of the Liberty Century, thought the President, than the Iraqi soccer team, which, after unexpectedly advancing to the quarter-finals, became the Cinderella story of the games?  Not wanting to miss an opportunity to demonstrate the meaning of the RNC placard “LET FREEDOM REIGN,” the President’s p.r. people created a campaign ad featuring slow-mo images of courageous Iraqi footballers heading, dribbling, and slide-tackling (with some Afghanis thrown in for good measure) together with the words, “At this Olympics there will be two more free nations—and two fewer terrorist regimes.”

Yet the newly “free” Iraqis were not pleased.  Midfielder Salih Sadir told Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wall: “Iraq as a team does not want Mr. Bush to use us for the presidential campaign ....

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