When Ignorance Fuels Action

^^ Watch Out! She’s A Terrorist…with an iced coffee!

Dunkin’ Donuts scrapped an ad featuring its bubbly spokesperson Rachael Ray wearing a scarf that resembled the traditional Arab keffiyeh headdress, often worn in Middle East, but also a fashion fave amongst hipsters and fashionistas around the globe.

Conservative bloggers led by syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin caused a virtual stir with complaints that the scarf is an emblem of the late Yasser Arafat and has come to symbolize the radical jihad movement.

So what does Dunkin’ Donuts do? Instead of doing their research and seeking to understand the history of the keffiyeh, they scrap the ad all together in fear of appearing as if they’re supporting the next suicide bomber. If they took even one hour to dig a little deeper, they would have realized that the keffiyeh is traditionally used to provide protection from the sun as well as protecting the mouth and eyes from dust and sand. Because of its popular use by Palestinians, it has become known as a symbol of support for the country in the midst of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. However this fabric–usually made of cotton, but sometimes a combination of cotton and wool–has multiple uses and meanings. Ask a kid on the Lower East Side of Manhattan what the keffiyeh means to them? Or how about the vendor on Canal Street who is selling them for $15.

I bought a red keffiyeh in London two years ago and have received mixed responses from people of various backgrounds–mostly compliments or questions on where I bought mine and if I thought it was authentic. I bought it because I like the design and often use it to keep my neck warm on cold New York City nights. No one has ever expressed any anger or offense (at least no to my face) and if anything it has become an occasional conversation piece. But hey, whatever it takes to sell a few donuts, right?

– Mahogs

Thoughts, ladies?

Check out a few perspectives on the topic:

Olbermann Calls for Dunkin Donuts Boycott

Amahl Bishara, an anthropology lecturer at the University of Chicago says criticism about the scarf’s use showed misunderstandings of Arab culture

Last 5 posts by Sherry J. Bitting