May 30, 2008

Response to Anti-Scarfers

You may be sick of hearing about this scarf business. I have to beg your pardon, because I think there's a lot more to be said about this. At first I was shocked and amused at this bit of nutfudgery. Then I was upset and boggled that Dunkin' Donuts felt they had to give in to intimidation. Now I'm settling into something a little more like depression about it.

That's because I feel this is just the beginning of a very bad trend. I felt like I had to post on one of the sites frequented by folks that supported the intimidation of Dunkin' Donuts. I thought maybe someone would read my opinion and understand the undercurrent which so bothers me. I don't expect anyone to post and say they agree. Likely I'll just get attacked. But I've said my piece as plainly as I can. I feel seriously about it.

People in the comments thread of this post on Jawa Report were imagining that Dunkin' Donuts doesn't have much of a liberal clientelle, so I started by setting that right. I also called this business "ridiculous criticism over a scarf." But then someone commented back to me:

"ridiculous criticism over a scarf."
Would it have been different if She had worn a white hood or a swaz armband?

I figured I would take the opportunity to explain why this bothers me. Well, a shot in the dark. I republish it below in case anyone is interested. I'm trying to keep it polite and to the point. Certainly there are a lot of people who will not want to hear anything. But I'm going for the chance reasonable passerby. And here's the link to the comments thread.

That's about as fair as asking "Would it have been different if she were McCain's daughter?" But I understand why you asked it. Let me first handle the subject at hand before changing it.

She's wearing a scarf that some people mistook for a kaffiyeh that's intended to support a specific cause. Instead of giving the benefit of the doubt (which I think would make sense in this case), they ran with it to gain attention. I know what you're thinking -- what possible benefit could Michelle Malkin get from all that attention? (OK, I apologize for the sarcasm.)

There is no evidence to show that Dunkin' Donuts intended to mainstream terrorism. There is no evidence to back up the idea that the scarf Rachael Ray was wearing benefits Hamas in any way. This is why I think they deserved the benefit of the doubt. But they didn't get it.

Of course manufactured outrage is not specific to the right wing. So you have some fun with it - no big deal. Everyone enjoys getting a little hot and bothered. But people came together to make a corporation afraid to let a woman wear a scarf in a commercial. That's no longer just fun. Dictating woman's fashion through intimidation; that sounds awfully familiar. That's why I think this one went a little too far.

I know many people who agree with Michelle Malkin and are reading this are probably just going to get mad at me and dismiss my point of view. But I hope a few people who read this really think about having that sort of accomplishment under your belt. I hope at least some of you feel something telling you it's not the proudest moment. It's political correctness run amok, worse, even than when ignorant busybodies objected to the use of the word "niggardly."

This used to be the country where we said "screw it, we're the ones who are going to say what things mean." Now we're afraid what the Palestinians and others will think when they see a scarf in a Dunkin' Donuts commercial? Are the folks with all this outrage too young to remember that spirit of freedom? It's making me feel like an old man. Winning means winning the freedoms, not winning the intimidation of a donut company.

To come back to your question, I'll consider this: How about if she'd have been wearing the full garb of a KKK grand wizard? Would that have been different? There are few, if any, other times when you see people wearing those things when they are not specifically representing the KKK (or parodying the KKK).

On the other hand, people wear scarves of all sorts all the time without referencing Palestine. People wear middle-eastern-style scarves all the time without being terrorists, or (gasp!) Muslims. There you have your difference.

Thanks for listening.
-JP Burke

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Posted by James at May 30, 2008 8:55 PM
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Well put Burke, and well done trying to actually reason with the crazies. Being a norwegian in Norway, watching this from far away I don't know wether to laugh or cry. It's scary, and if this is somewhat representative for the climate in the US right now, I'm sorry for you. And sorry for us, cause it'll probably get just as bad over here sooner or later.

Probably sooner...

Posted by: Hjorthen at May 30, 2008 9:17 PM

Until I heard about this, I didn't think it was the climate in the US. I thought it had been getting better. Maybe it has been getting better, and the shrinking minority is just becoming more shrill. I wonder if Dunkin' Donuts even bothered to research this before yanking their ad.

Posted by: Julie at May 30, 2008 9:41 PM

Hjorthen - it is scary. Unfortunately it was something to laugh about, but now it requires tears.

James - I couldn't help but post a comment where you did. This is complete insanity and becoming terrifyingly depressing.

Although, I am excited to see what gets boycotted next! Perhaps it should be lapel pins made in China... Or anyone with a beard - Muslims love beards, right? - so that means I am forced to hate them - because that's the 'Merican way, motortrucker!

Posted by: Derek at May 30, 2008 9:43 PM

I have to say the responses on that thread are at least a little more respectful than what I'm used to reading on some other sites.

The people I'm hoping to reach would likely not post a response, so I guess I'm moderately encouraged by the situation.

I know I get overheated in many of my blog posts; I guess that's how I blow off steam. But when you're actually trying to connect to people, you have to try harder to communicate rather than just make fun noises. It's harder work, less fun, but has the potential to be more rewarding. Sanity dictates I cannot give up the blowing off steam part, though. And you get an honest, if variable, presentation.

I hope it is not too counterproductive.

Posted by: James at May 30, 2008 11:54 PM

Didn't take long. Instead of talking about ideas, I get arguments about the pro-terrorism demographic vs. the anti-terrorism demographic.

Some appear to have given up because they don't believe in those ideas. We start losing when we think force is stronger than ideas and can replace them.

Flying a plane into a building isn't a show of force, it an attempt to shove an idea down people's throats. Nobody starts off by flying a plane. You flex your muscles first by demonizing a style of dress.

Posted by: James at May 31, 2008 1:16 AM

I don't think it's a new trend at all, it's Swiftboating and it has expanded past politics - advertising, public employment ("parents complain teacher promotes wizardry"), immigration issues ("immigrants carry leprosy"), etc. Ignorance helps it spread, especially the willful ignorance you see in those who forward an email suspecting it might be full of crap (eg: various Obama and Hillary screeds) but sending it on anyway because they like the message and want it to be true. So it really doesn't matter if you are innocent of any sort of malicious intent or action, if someone can convince others that THEY see something worth objecting to, YOU had better change that PDQ!

Of course it really doesn't matter if you change it or not, because once it's on the Interwebs it is "valid" and will never fully disappear - like how Gates Wants to Pay You to Forward This Email.

Sad, sad, sad.


Posted by: mjfrombuffalo at May 31, 2008 7:05 AM

Maybe you're right about it not being new.

So, traditionally ridiculous, then.

Posted by: James at May 31, 2008 2:13 PM

I put my two cents in, but I was not as polite as you James.

Posted by: Chuck S. at June 1, 2008 9:04 AM

Liberty measles? Why would they change their name? The measles aren't so great - so why make them less German? I guess people have always been stupid.

Posted by: Derek at June 1, 2008 12:49 PM

Yes, why claim a disease as your own when the enemy has already got a lock on the name?

Ah, stupidity. This would all be funnier if we hadn't just done the same thing with Freedom Fries. Oh, wait--I laughed at that at the time and still laugh now, though what I was laughing at was based more on my intellectual superiority...

Posted by: Patti M. at June 1, 2008 4:01 PM

I got a response from DD:

Thank you for sharing your comments. We always appreciate hearing from our customers. The intent of the online ad featuring Rachael Ray wearing a paisley silk scarf was to promote iced coffee. Given the surprising and truly unfortunate interpretation of this ad from some of our consumers, we decided to pull the ad and replace it with another as it is no longer serving its intended purpose, which was to simply promote our iced coffee---nothing more, nothing less.

At Dunkin' Donuts, we value all of our customers and remain steadfastly committed to making your experiences with us both memorable and pleasant. Thank you, again, for making us aware of your concerns; it is appreciated

Posted by: James at June 3, 2008 8:19 AM

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