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The keffiyeh kerfuffle

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By Michelle Malkin  •  May 28, 2008 09:38 AM

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My syndicated column today examines the keffiyeh kerfuffle with Dunkin’ Donuts and Rachael Ray that I noted on the blog last week. As you’ll recall, I linked to an item by LGF’s Charles Johnson about the scarf she wore in a recent Dunkin’ ad. Keffiyeh chic has been covered on this site and at Hot Air extensively (see here, here, and here). Anti-American fashion designers abroad and at home have mainstreamed and adapted the scarves as generic pro-Palestinian jihad or anti-war statements. Yet many folks out there remain completely oblivious to the apparel’s violent symbolism and anti-Israel overtones. Left-wing bloggers responded with complete scorn, deliberate mischaracterizations of the debate, and then outrage when Dunkin’ Donuts commendably showed sensitivity to the concerns and pulled the ad. The Boston Globe accused me of “yowling.” If you actually read my post and the column below, you’ll see no such thing.

It’s interesting how much ire the Left shows when we civilly raise pointed questions about the power of insidious symbols. These are the same folks who have nothing to say when zealots on their side of the ideological aisle go about tearing down crosses and throwing tantrums over the symbols they abhor.

Update: Pam Geller e-mails that she first reported on the story May 18.

Update: Reader Erik e-mails, “Hey, I know, we could all walk around wearing T-Shirts with the Crusaders Cross on them and pretend we didn’t know what it means.”

Update: Charles Johnson continues to receive hate mail from the see-no-evil monkeys.

Update: Reader Stu e-mails, “What you talk about here is not so different from the wearing of ‘Che Guevara’ T-shirts by people who have no clue (or choose to ignore, or even to embrace for the sake of “radical chic”) what a murdering thug Guevara was.” Very much so.

Related flashback: Cameron Diaz and her Mao bag.

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Rachael Ray, Dunkin’ Donuts, and the keffiyeh kerfuffle
by Michelle Malkin
Creators Syndicate
Copyright 2008

1ddrr.jpg I’ve been a fan of Dunkin Donuts for years. Their Munchkins are heaven. Their coffee is better and cheaper than Starbucks. And the company’s management has taken a brave and lonely stand in support of immigration enforcement–refusing to hire illegal aliens and blowing the whistle on applicants with bogus Social Security numbers.

So it was with some dismay that I learned last week that Dunkin Donuts’ spokeswoman Rachael Ray, the ubiquitous TV hostess, posed for one of the company’s ads in what appeared to be a black-and-white keffiyeh.

The keffiyeh, for the clueless, 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.

Three years ago, pop singer Ricky Martin donned a traditional red-checked keffiyeh with the phrase “Jerusalem is ours” inscribed in Arabic. Apologizing for his obliviousness, Martin said: “I had no idea that the kaffiyeh scarf presented to me contained language referring to Jerusalem, and I apologize to anyone who might think I was endorsing its message.” Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, Spain’s Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, and Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean, and Hollywood darlings Colin Farrell, Sienna Miller, and Kirsten Dunst, and rapper Kanye West have all been photographed in endless variations on the distinctive hate couture. So has Meghan McCain, daughter of the GOP presidential candidate, who really ought to know better given that her dad positions himself as the candidate best equipped to “confront the transcendent challenge of our time: the threat of radical Islamic terrorism.”

The scarves are staples at anti-Israel rallies in San Francisco and Berkeley. Balenciaga made them chic on the runway. British retailer Top Shop sold them stamped with skull prints. Urban Outfitters turned the keffiyehs into a youth trend a few years ago and marketed them as “anti-war scarves.” Which brings us to Rachael Ray.

Ray hawked Urban Outfitters scarves on her website before appearing in the Dunkin Donuts ad. If she (or whichever stylist is dressing her) wasn’t aware of the jihad scarf controversy before she posed for the Dunkin campaign, she should have been. Urban Outfitters initially pulled the keffiyeh merchandise and apologized when Jewish customers protested, but reintroduced them with different names and colors in several global markets. This is the same company that marketed a bigotry-laced “Everyone loves a Jewish girl t-shirt” stamped with dollar signs and shopping bags. Most recently, the company halted sales of a violence-promoting t-shirt last week depicting a young Palestinian boy in a keffiyeh carrying an AK-47 assault rifle, over the word “Victimized.” The t-shirt also featured the Palestinian flag, a map of the Palestinian territories and a small white dove.

“Please understand that we do not buy items to provoke controversy or to intentionally offend,” a company spokesman pleaded. Their actions, however, speak louder than their assuaging words.

Dunkin Donuts won’t identify where Ray’s scarf was purchased, but issued this statement after blogger Charles Johnson at Little Green Footballs and I, along with many other bloggers and consumers, called attention to it:

“Thank you for expressing your concern about the Dunkin’ Donuts advertisement with Rachael Ray. In the ad that you reference, Rachael is wearing a black-and-white silk scarf with a paisley design that was purchased at a U.S. retail store. It was selected by the stylist for the advertising shoot. Absolutely no symbolism was intended. However, given the possibility of misperception, we will no longer use the commercial.”

It’s refreshing to see an American company show sensitivity to the concerns of Americans opposed to Islamic jihad and its apologists. Too many of them bend over backwards in the direction of anti-American political correctness. Naturally, liberal commentators on the Internet are now up in arms over Dunkin Donut’s decision to yank the ad and mock anyone who expresses concern over the keffiyeh’s symbolism.

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.

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