Dunkin’ Donuts pulled an Internet ad for iced coffee featuring celebrity chef Rachael Ray, after conservative bloggers complained that Ray’s scarf offered symbolic support for Islamic terrorists. The black and white fringed scarf, they said, looks like an Arab keffiyeh, famously worn by former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. Dunkin’ Donuts said the scarf chosen for Ray was actually silk with a paisley pattern, and that “absolutely no symbolism was intended.” (The New York Times, free registration)
What the commentators said
“The keffiyeh, for the clueless,” said Michelle Malkin in Townhall, is “the traditional scarf of Arab men that has come to symbolize murderous Palestinian jihad.” And Ray has “hawked” these staples of “hate couture” before, so she should know the symbolism. For those who protest that the keffiyeh is “just a scarf,” imagine if someone “marketed modified Klan-style hoods in Burberry plaid as the next big thing.”
Now that Ray has “been fingered as a sympathizer for Islamic jihad,” said The Boston Globe in an editorial (free registration), she’d “better not be whipping up any falafel dishes on her TV show.” Seriously, this “furor” was enough to get Dunkin’ Donuts to pull the ad? “What’s next, banning Dunkin’s poppy seed bagels because they’re symbols of Afghan narcoterrorists?”
Despite the predictable “ignorant mockery,” said Charles Johnson in the blog Little Green Footballs, casually "mainstreaming terrorism” like this isn’t a joke. “Terrorists and terror sympathizers explicitly say that the kaffiyeh is a symbol of Palestinian ‘resistance’,” and as disturbing as this Dunkin’ Donuts ad is, Ray is hardly “the first celebrity to show up wearing one of these.”
Look, “millions of people in the Middle East” wear keffiyehs, said Tom Grant in the blog Arms and Influence, and that includes “Israelis, and even US troops stationed in Iraq.” The keffiyeh is an effective way to protect yourself from sand, sun, and wind, not an automatic sign that you’re a Jihadist. Dunkin’ Donuts “decided to cave” to a “protest” that “makes about as much sense as a Monty Python skit.”
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