In an ad for Dunkin’ Donuts, Ms. Ray wore a black and white scarf that was mistaken by some conservatives as a keffiyeh. A keffiyeh is a traditional Arab headdress worn by men.
Michelle Malkin, an extremely conservative Fox News commentator, was driven into quite a frenzy by the ad. She regards the scarf as a symbol of the Palestinian Jihad. In her words: ‘‘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 initially paid little heed to the cries from the right, no doubt thinking that no sane person could believe that Rachel Ray and Dunkin’ Donuts were expressing solidarity with terrorists. However, as the frenzy over the ad grew, Dunkin’ Donuts decided to pull it.
Malkin was apparently molified and said: ‘‘It’s refreshing to see an American company show sensitivity to the concerns of Americans opposed to Islamic jihad and its apologists.’’
When I saw the ad, I did not think that Ray and Dunkin’ Donuts were endorsing Palestine or terrorism. My thought was that they were trying to sell beverages and donuts.
After hearing about the controversy, I can see how the scarf she wears can be seen as resembling the keffiyeh (pictured to the right). Further, people do wear the keffiyeh to show their support for the Palestinians, although many people wear it merely as a matter of fashion with no political intent. To use an analogy, consider people who wear camo clothing. Some people wear it to make a statement, while other people just wear it for the style.
However, a little reflection reveals the following.
First, since the keffiyeh comes in so many styles and colors, a wide range of scarfs and similar items can be seen as resembling a keffiyeh. Are we to think that anyone who wears anything vaguely resembling a keffiyeh is supporting terrorism? Handerchiefs look like keffiyehs, therefore we would have to infer that cowboys (including Ronald Reagan) support (or supported) terrorism. This is clearly absurd.
Second, there seems to be no reason to think that Rachel Ray and Dunkin’ Donuts are supporters of terrorism. Hence, there would be little reason to think that her scarf is anything other than a scarf.
Third, That the conservatives see Ray’s scarf as a symbol of terrorism says much more about them than about Ray and Dunkin’ Donuts. As a cigar is sometimes justa cigar, a scarf is sometimes just a scarf. Ironically, Malkin and her fellows seem to be taking an approach that is so often criticized when liberals do the same thing. To specific, the right often complains about how sensitive the left is about things that they (the left) regard as insensitive. While this does not show that Malkin is in error, the arguments that the right use to criticize the left about such hyper-sensitivity can be brought against Malkin and her ilk.