Thursday, May 29, 2008

More Keffiyeh Drama Fo' Yo' Moma

Dunkin' Donuts Yanks Rachel Ray Ad

Does Dunkin’ Donuts really think its customers could mistake Rachael Ray for a terrorist sympathizer? The Canton-based company has abruptly canceled an ad in which the domestic diva wears a scarf that looks like a keffiyeh, a traditional headdress worn by Arab men.

Some observers, including ultra-conservative Fox News commentator Michelle Malkin, were so incensed by the ad that there was even talk of a Dunkin’ Donuts boycott.

‘‘The keffiyeh, for the clueless, is the traditional scarf of Arab men that has come to symbolize murderous Palestinian jihad,’’ Malkin yowls in her syndicated column.

‘‘Popularized by Yasser Arafat and a regular adornment of Muslim terrorists appearing in beheading and hostage-taking videos, the apparel has been mainstreamed by both ignorant and not-so-ignorant fashion designers, celebrities, and left-wing icons.’’

The company at first pooh-poohed the complaints, claiming the black-and-white wrap was not a keffiyeh. But the right-wing drumbeat on the blogosphere continued and by yesterday, Dunkin’ Donuts decided it’d be easier just to yank the ad.

Said the suits in a statement: ‘‘In a recent online ad, Rachael Ray is wearing a black-and-white silk scarf with a paisley design. It was selected by her stylist for the advertising shoot. Absolutely no symbolism was intended. However, given the possibility of misperception, we are no longer using the commercial.’’

(In case you’re wondering, the stylist who selected the offending scarf was not Gretta Enterprises boss Gretchen Monahan, who appears on Ray’s TV show as a style consultant.)

For her part, Malkin was pleased with Dunkin’s response: ‘‘It’s refreshing to see an American company show sensitivity to the concerns of Americans opposed to Islamic jihad and its apologists.’’
Source: Boston

Thoughts, in no particular order:
  • We're letting the "right wing nut cases" rise to new levels of ridiculousness.
  • Nobody really complained when Urban Outfitters and Delia's caved under pressure and proved unable to carry their respective versions of the keffiyeh for more than a week. Maybe those who appreciate the keffiyeh deserved this slap in the face.
  • This is another step in exoticizing Middle Eastern culture.
  • The prospect of a remote association with "terrorism" (though in my book I'd call the Palestinian struggle one being led by freedom fighters) terrifies corporate America.
  • The commercialization of various Palestinian symbols dilutes their meaning and value.
  • Popularizing the culture of resistance might be just what we need - think of the 60s when everybody was a hippy and the will of the people actually mattered!
Update (05/29, 7:00pm):

Message from the ANSWER Coalition
Boycott: Don't Shop at Dunkin' Donuts!
Say No to Anti-Arab Racism

The ANSWER Coalition and others are calling for a worldwide boycott of Dunkin’ Donuts. The boycott intends to send a powerful message to Dunkin’ Donuts and other corporations that engage in racism or pandering to anti-Arab and anti-Muslim racists.

Please lend your name to the boycott by clicking this link and send a letter to Dunkin' Donuts. Be sure to circulate this call to your friends on list serves and social networking sites.

Here’s the background:

Dunkin’ Donuts has capitulated and withdrawn an advertisement for its products following the allegation by a right-wing hack, Michelle Malkin, that the spokeswoman in the ad was pictured wearing a kaffiyeh, a scarf which is a staple of clothing traditionally worn by Palestinian men.

The scarf pictured in the ad is not actually a kaffiyeh. But the anti-Arab racism of the right-wing, pro-Bush ideologues like Malkin is so extreme that they launched their campaign because they “thought” the scarf was this traditional Arab garment. Dunkin’ Donuts pulled their ad apologizing that the scarf might even resemble a kaffiyeh.

In Malkin’s twisted world anything “Arab,” even a scarf, is “terrorist.” This is the same line of thinking promoted by the Bush administration in the wake of 9/11, when thousands of Middle Eastern men living in the United States were rounded up and falsely imprisoned. Some were even tried on phony “terrorism” charges. It is the same line of thinking that was used to promote the racist war drive against Afghanistan and then Iraq.

The fact that a giant corporation like Dunkin’ Donuts quickly pulled the advertisement is a sign that the pervasive racism, chauvinism and xenophobia peddled by right-wing bigots is a real danger. This is a classic tactic of fascist intimidation and demonization of an entire population.

We demand that Dunkin’ Donuts immediately apologize to the Arab-American community for this disgraceful surrender to racism. Until that apology is issued we will refuse to shop or buy any products marketed by the Dunkin' Donuts Corporation.

Please lend your name to the boycott by clicking this link and send a letter to Dunkin' Donuts. Be sure to circulate this call to your friends on list serves and social networking sites.


pj said...

I was excited when urban outfitters first put out their kiffiyeh but now it's turning into an annoying, superficial, fashion fad. If the designers are going to use an item with strong cultural symbolism, they should atleast respect it.

FOX news is getting more ridiculous by the day!

Nadia said...

We all should go in large groups to dunkin donuts wearing kiffayas and order a ton of food.

and then leave (before paying) because we don't like how dunkin' donuts caved to supporters of genocide. (malkin and her friends).

too bad there is no dunkin' donuts in the bay.

Anonymous said...

Wow that's ridiculous. In Toronto folks wear keffiyahs all the time. I'd say half the folks don't even know what a kefiyah is and that their scarf probably came from a Chinese or Korean discount shop or mall outlet store not the middle east (not really a kefiya at all). Unless they happen to have a peace button or anti-war button or some other symbol of activism on it, I doubt the scarf is anything more then just something to keep warm or use as a cover up.

Veiled Muslimah said...

Haha, I read this in the news the other day. ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

Last night I saw two random folks wearing keffiyehs: one was neon/highlighter yellow and the other was purple. And even despite those colors they looked more like keffiyehs than the scarf Rachel Ray was wearing.

Bring on the boycott!