Wednesday, May 28, 2008
I think perhaps the biggest danger facing America today is a new, tubthumping stupidity. Stupidity kills more Americans each year than terrorism, lightning, and bad gravy combined.
Does Dunkin’ Donuts really think its customers could mistake Rachael Ray for a terrorist sympathizer? The Canton-based company has abruptly canceled an ad in which the domestic diva wears a scarf that looks like a keffiyeh, a traditional headdress worn by Arab men.
Some observers, including ultra-conservative Fox News commentator Michelle Malkin, were so incensed by the ad that there was even talk of a Dunkin’ Donuts boycott.
So Dunkin' Donuts pulled the ad, for fear that some Americans would be sent into the streets in a pants-wetting panic that someone in a donut ad might be wearing a black and white scarf that looks sortof like something a Palestinian jihadist would be wearing. You know, if it wasn't a scarf but was a headdress. And if it had a different pattern. And if you were mind-rapingly insane to begin with.
Now, what's important to grasp here is that the scarf in question (see link) is rather clearly just a scarf. It is admittedly black and white, which apparently would be symbolic in the Palestinian world, except I'm not sure if something frilly and paisley can ever really count as being as menacing as we are supposed to believe. And there's clearly no pro-terrorist vibe being intended by Dunkin Freaking Donuts -- Ray is holding a latte, which I'm pretty sure is like kryptonite to jihadists. I don't know, I'm not up on all the comic-book-style interpretations of what we should and shouldn't be afraid of these days.
No, the issue was that there was a scarf that looked sortof like something Islamic. That's it. That was enough to dampen pants and blister typing fingers across the great and paranoid conservative nation. Maybe it was a scandalous example of unintended cultural tolerance? Maybe it was a secret message to terrorists that they could count on Dunkin' Donuts to cater their next meeting? Or, maybe, it was just a goddamn scarf.
So this is what we've (well, I say "we", but I mean a small subset of American patriots who, having absolutely no intention of doing anything meaningful for their country that involves getting out of their chairs, spend their days looking for secret terrorist messages in television commercials) been reduced to. We're examining the fashion statements of donut ads and parsing them for hints of surreptitious Islamic culture. We're locked into a mortal combat against those that casually accessorize without remembering that we are at war; we're mere weeks away from probing the hidden alliances of the doilies on our grandmothers' coffee tables.
We are a nation that sees images of Jesus on toast. Admit it; there was absolutely no possibility that we would not eventually devolve to this point.
The most fearsome message of The Fashion Menace is that it has shown, once again, just how absurdly simple it would be for Osama bin Laden to bring America to its knees. It would be trivial; it requires only a rudimentary knowledge of American culture and social weaknesses.
To bring America to its knees, all Bin Laden must do is make his next video while drinking from a can of Coca Cola. The nation would erupt in chaos; Coca Cola sales would vanish into nothingness. In his next video, he could casually munch potato chips; the entire snack industry would collapse. One after another, he could film himself driving an American car; he could insert himself into a Girls Gone Wild video; he could appear next to a caveman, or a gecko, or Captain Crunch; he could enroll in DeVry University. On the day he refinanced his home at new historically low rates, the United States housing market would collapse irretrievably. One by one, he could decimate the entire economic fabric of America merely by association. Not one person in fifty would be willing to buck social trends and still buy Coca Cola if Bin Laden was seen drinking it; our consumer-based economy would be destroyed.
Why stop at scarves, after all? If Islamic militants wished to truly damage America, they should make pants a symbol of their jihad. All of conservative America would immediately go patriotically pantsless, and the collective loss of American appetites would render the entire nation weak and anemic and ripe for takeover.
And heaven help us all if the terrorists ever converted to Christianity. It would be the ultimate battle plan -- from then on, no American would know what to think. No, we should be grateful that as of the moment, they have only commandeered neckwear and Any Possible Thing On The Planet Shaped Even Vaguely Like A Crescent. So long as the battle is confined primarily to abstract shapes and donut ads, we should be fine.