I was on a Web site devoted to providing instruction in a gamut of subjects (instructables.com). I was looking for instructions on how to properly wear the keffiyeh I bought earlier in the year (http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-wrap-a-Keffiyeh/).
A keffiyeh is a garment of Middle Eastern origins. My reason for wanting to know how to wear one follows. The sad thing I discovered in looking at the comments that followed the simple keffiyeh wrapping instructions was some people trying to politicize the simple presence of a page instructing people how to wear a garment that some people associate with terrorism. Instructables.com is an apolitical site. It is there to show people that don’t know things how to do them, period. This was my response to the post:
Thanks for the instructions. The keffiyeh is an extremely practical garment. I am going hunting tomorrow and it is supposed to be unseasonably warm. I have a cold weather hunting balaclava, but it will be a bit too warm to wear. I have a bright orange and black keffiyeh to go with my blaze orange and black hunting camouflage. The first time I used the keffiyeh was at an outdoor garage sale where I was manning a booth in the sun for three+ hours. It kept my very Caucasian skin from getting very burnt. Its gauzy structure kept it from getting to be too warm.
For those who are trying to make this political because of its Semitic origins, please don’t go there. I am a Jew, an American patriot, and a Zionist. As much as the world tends to forget, Arabs and Jews have a common parentage and a common region. The keffiyeh is not a religious garment, it is a garment of the desert nomad. At one time, most of us Semitic folks were nomads in desert areas. I was in the US Army and was stationed in the desert for three years. I wish I knew how to wear one of these back then. We wore gauze cravats like keffiyehs but they didn’t stay in place as well and were not so easily converted back and forth to face covers. My wearing of a keffiyeh does not make me any more of a Palestinian sympathizer than my wearing of an ushanka (the Russian ear-flap hat) makes me a fan of Vladimir Putin. As a person of Ukrainian heritage, I despise Putin because he embodies the egotistical oligarchical leader who seems to think he is better and smarter than everyone else. That doesn’t make me want to trade in my ushanka for a ski cap or ear muffs.
When I was a soldier, the Army implemented the PASGT, styled after the German Bundeswehr’s Gefechtshelm (helmet with ear covering that is favored by bikers). That didn’t me a Nazi. We wore ponchos too. They have their origins in South and Central America.
The bottom line is this, in America, we have a creole culture. We see it in our arts, cuisine, language, and clothing. Our nation has been fortunate enough to be able to borrow from the hundreds (if not thousands) of cultures of our citizens. Let’s not be so ignorant and naive to think that we Americans should avoid cultural garb because it has its origins in cultures some of us might not agree with.