Friday, May 30, 2008

Rachael Ray headscarf and Dunkin' Donuts/The Case of the Keffiyeh

This whole "controversy" is a stunning reminder that the simplest cultural artifacts--the "ready to wear" (not ready to war) keffiyeh--is suddenly politicized as a symbol of "murderous jihadis." This sort of thing would be funny if it weren't so incredibly illuminating. For those not in the know, a keffiyeh is a (head)scarf. They're good for shielding one from the weather--whether hot or cold, dusty or rainy. They are not necessarily symbols of anything, any more than a cap is a symbol of something for the head.

It is true, however, that the keffiyeh has played an iconic role in Palestinian nationalism, most likely in solidarity with its peasant roots. Arafat was known to wear his in the shape of historic Palestine. Yes, activists like to wear them. And? In all likelihood, the "symbol"--if it ever were a symbol--has been commodified, set free of its particular political meanings. Hell, if Ms. Ray is donning it, chances are it is set free of its political meanings.

It pains me to no end that anything--ANYTHING--that has anything to do with Arab culture (minus the hookah, celebrated by college boys everywhere) becomes political, becomes pro-terrorist, because it is "alien" to us Americans. Bullshit.

CANTON, Mass., May 28 (UPI) -- Dunkin' Donuts, based in Canton, Mass., has pulled an advertisement after a scarf worn by pitch woman Rachael Ray was compared to a Muslim headscarf.

Michelle Malkin, a conservative commentator for Fox News, said in her syndicated column that the paisley scarf worn by Ray in the ad resembles a traditional keffiyeh headscarf worn by Muslim men, WCVB-TV, Boston, reported Wednesday.

"The keffiyeh, for the clueless, is the traditional scarf of Arab men that has come to symbolize murderous Palestinian jihad," Malkin wrote. "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."

Dunkin' Donuts said the resemblance between Ray's scarf and a keffiyeh was unintentional.

"Absolutely no symbolism was intended. However, given the possibility of misperception, we are no longer using the commercial," the company said in a statement.

© 2008 United Press International. All Rights Reserved.

1 comment:

RazRocks said...

Completely agreed.