Friday, May 30, 2008

More on Rachael Ray, Dunkin' Donuts, and Kufiyas

Now that Dunkin' Donuts has apologized and pulled the ad, this controversy is just about over for this news cycle. But in the interest of completeness (otherwise known as being hysterically obsessive about kufiyas), I'd like to call attention to a couple more reports on the item.

First, there is rightwing commentator Michelle Malkin's post (from of May 28 (read the entire piece here).

"The keffiyeh, for the clueless," writes Michelle, "is the traditional scarf of Arab men that has come to symbolize murderous Palestinian jihad. 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 scarves are staples at anti-Israel rallies in San Francisco and Berkeley."

She name-checks prominent kufiya wearers, some of whom who have been kufiyaspotted by hawgblawg: Ricky Martin, Hugo Chavez, Spain's Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, Howard Dean, Colin Farrell, Sienna Miller, Kirsten Dunst, Kanye West and Meghan McCain. And she also mentions designers and fashion outlets, including Balenciaga, Topshop, and of course, Urban Outfitters, and goes into details about the recent flap over Urban Outfitters' "Victimized" t-shirt.

(Malkin has gone after some of these folks before--see her post on "hate couture" from 2006.)

Malkin takes partial credit for Dunkin' Donuts' decision to withdraw its ad, and praises the company for its "sensitivity to the concerns of Americans opposed to Islamic jihad and its apologists." "Too many" US companies, she says, "bend over backward in the direction of anti-American political correctness."

Michelle concludes:

"It's just a scarf, the clueless keffiyeh-wearers scoff. Would they say the same of fashion designers who marketed modified Klan-style hoods in Burberry plaid as the next big thing?

Fashion statements may seem insignificant, but when they lead to the mainstreaming of violence -- unintentionally or not -- they matter. Ignorance is no longer an excuse. In post-9/11 America, vigilance must never go out of style."

Michelle articulates the familiar conflation of support for Palestinian rights with Islamic jihad, terrorism, beheadings of hostages, "anti-Israel" sentiments, anti-Americanism, leftists, and by extension, the KKK. Her rhetoric is not just characteristic of right-wing commentators, but of centrist and liberal thinking as well.

I agree with Michelle on one thing: fashion is significant. Folks, wear your kufiyas.

(I also note that Michelle weighed in against Fun'Da'Mental's All Is War and other so-called "jihad rap" back in June 2006--check out this video comment on Vent. I have numerous previous posts on this controversy.)

And now here is some more for the completists:

Celebs are People Too comments (thanks, Chris): "Note to Malkin: these types of scarves are available at Target. Get over yourself," and suggests "Readers, if you care about the state of this nation, you’ll send in your thoughts to Michelle Malkin and let her know America, similarly, has no use for her."

I'm all for criticizing Ms. Malkin, but why not do it on the basis of support for Palestinian rights, rather than resorting to Target? (I'm pretty sure it's not sold there, but the point of CAPT is of course rhetorical, i.e., that such scarves are entirely mainstream and harmless.)

And then there is a report from the New York Post, with a comment from Ahmed Rehab of CAIR:

"I think it's a mistake to demonize a single article of clothing," said Ahmed Rehab, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

"Yes, maybe some suicide bombers have worn it, but so have a million other non-suicide bombers. It'd be as ludicrous as decrying clothes because all 19 people involved in the Sept. 11 attacks wore clothes."

In the United States and Europe, the gray and white scarf is much more of a fashion statement than a political one, Rehab said.

"Yes, it has symbolized Palestinians, but it's also a yuppie fashion statement," Rehab joked. "I've seen young blond women wear it on the Tube in London and in Lincoln Park in Chicago. If it's become a political statement, I didn't get the memo on it."

Rehab--why bring up suicide bombers, and why deny that it's any kind of political statement?

Finally, another kufiyaspotting, from wayneandwax: a photo of a kufiya for sale at the great music store, Newbury Comics, in Cambridge, Mass. The item, wayne informs me, is from david & young: check here

and here--described as a "peace scarf"--the same designation Urban Outfitters originally used.


Tim Abdellah said...

Thx Ted for following up on this one. Hey, wasn't coffee first cultivated and brewed in Yemen? The offending commercial was a coffee ad, after all, wasn't it?

Susana said...

Rusty said...

The world of comics has taken this up!