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Rachel Ray's advertisement for Dunkin Donuts.

Catcher in the Rye?
Headcovering sends America for cover.

-- Ben Burrows

When Michelle Malkin recently complained that Rachel Ray was wearing a kaffieyeh during a Dunkin Donuts commercial. An online petition drive has been organized to defend the television gastronome:

Dunkin Donuts has pulled an ad featuring Rachel Ray wearing a black-and-white paisley scarf, because a clique of right-wing bloggers led by Michelle Malkin attacked Rachel's fashion choice.

Malkin and her followers claim Rachel is wearing a keffiyeh, a traditional headdress worn by Arab men. And as silly as it sounds, these bloggers are trying to claim sweet Rachel Ray is some kind of terrorist sympathizer for simply wearing a black and white scarf, and that anyone wearing an actual keffiyeh is a terrorist.

Even more outrageous is the fact that Dunkin Donuts caved immediately to these lunatic pundits and pulled the ad. Tell Dunkin Donuts you don't believe Rachel Ray's scarf is a terrorist.

Pictures of the scarf do not show the scarf worn as a head covering, as kaffieyehs are traditionally worn by Muslim men. As pictured, the cloth accessory draped over Ray’s shoulders might just as well have been a tallit. The ginned up mob generated by Fox News commentator Michelle Malkin seems a bit contrived, under the circumstances – as it were, concentrating more on the hole in the donut, than the donut itself. Worn as it was on the shoulders with Rachel Ray’s head uncovered, the accessory in the advertisement hardly functioned as a proper chador, and was as much an insult to Islam as it might have been to Jews (even if it made sense to have a woman wear a male Muslim accessory).

The Interfaith Alliance, which promotes mutual tolerance among religious faiths, issued the following reply to Malkin’s broadside:

Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, President of Interfaith Alliance issued the following statement in response to Dunkin Donuts discontinuing an online ad featuring Rachel Ray wearing a kiffiyeh. Dunkin Donuts took this step following criticism from conservative pundit Michelle Malkin.

"Enough already. Have we really reached the point where we are associating wearing a scarf of Middle Eastern origin with terrorist sympathies? Should we apply this standard to everything that comes from the Middle East? Or are we only applying this standard to our wardrobe? If that is the case I would like to suggest that we stop wearing sweaters with hoods so as not to expose any sympathies for the unabomber....

"Serious issues continue to widen the divide between the Muslim world and the west. We simply must repair that divide. We can not allow misguided pundits to trivialize the situation like this. It gives new meaning to the term ’wardrobe malfunction.’”

Muslim Obama volunteer Shimaa Abdelfadeel claims she was snubbed at photo-op because of her religious headwear.

We have to remember that the same people who take umbrage at the least sign of cultural tolerance (to decry “political correctness”) are the same people who morph Vietnam veteran Max Cleland (who lost three limbs for his country, yet bravely rehabilitated himself to become Secretary for Veterans Affairs, and Senator from Georgia) into the image of Osama bin Laden. We are right to gently correct the ignorant – whether Ricky Martin (wearing a genuine keffiyeh with an inscription to place Jerusalem in Palestinian hands), or Hillary Clinton (hugging Suha Arafat after Yasser’s wife demanded in Arabic the dissolution of Israel). We are equally correct to accept the sincere apology of those who inadvertently offend us, even as we ask the same on Yom Kippur of Ha-shem during Avinu Malkenu. We are wrong to take to extremes the aphorism that “clothes make the man” (as when Obama donned native garb as a gesture of kinship in Africa, but no words of politics were spoken or inscribed on the clothing).

It seems as if we are all stuck at “some crazy cliff” in Holden Caulfield’s dream from Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye. We are charged with keeping all these little kids in a field of rye from wandering off the cliff to the dangerous depths below. We don’t have to be Jewish to act responsibly and prevent rumors from escalating into Big Lie Accepted Wisdom. Neither do you have to degenerate into Holden’s nervous breakdown at the end of the novel. Nonetheless, we need to be responsible stewards of our democratic society. We do need to denounce substantial extremism and the suggested resort to violence and mayhem. Yet, we do not need to transform the ordinary into extremism, when the only substance is the hole in a doughnut.

1960 Advertisement for Levy's Real Jewish Rye bread.

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