Justin du Coeur (jducoeur) wrote,
Justin du Coeur

I begin to think we need a term for "terrorism of ideas"

The news setting me off today is this idiotic story, which is appearing all over. Basically, the latest Rachel Ray online ad for Dunkin Donuts has her appearing in a scarf, which happens to look like a Muslim kaffiyeh. A couple of loudmouth right-wing commentators jumped all over it, declaring that it shows that Dunkin Donuts are subtly declaring their support for terrorists. Even if you are unfond of Rachel Ray herself (I know some of my friends don't much like her work), you have to admit that this particular tempest in a teapot goes beyond the pale.

In this case, it's the right wing in an idiotic lather, but I can't say that the left have covered themselves in any glory in this respect. It's yet another example of political correctness carried through to its ridiculous extreme -- where every move, every word, every image is scrutinized, deconstructed and imputed to have Deep And Horrible Significance. The authors of the error are pilloried in the public marketplace. If they are smart, they issue a fast retraction and run like hell; if they simply tell the truth (that no such insult was intended), the whole thing is generally turned into a huge fireball far beyond any good sense.

(I should note that I'm kind of gut-level annoyed at Dunkin Donuts for pulling the ad. On a lot of levels, the right-wing outrage is pretty damned outrageous itself: not just in that they've made a fashion statement into a political one, but in the implicit insult to Muslims. But I have to sympathize with the company: they *weren't* making any kind of political statement, and it's not particularly good business for them to allow it to turn into one, so getting the hell away from the whole thing is the intelligent move.)

But it does drive home my basic point. I don't use the terrorism analogy lightly. In both cases, the idea is to take some unobvious location full of civilians, and turn it into a battleground. In both cases, it's innocent bystanders, who had no intention of being on the front lines of the war, who wind up the casualties. And in both cases, it's the act of little, pitiful people who aren't really committing these acts because they are trying to change minds -- rather, they are trying to say "We Hold Power Over You" with as much flash and violence as possible.

It's a repulsive tactic, regardless of which side of the political spectrum is motivating it, and it deserves scorn and ridicule. (I haven't checked yet, but I dearly hope Mark Fiore comes up with a good cartoon on this one.) I can only think of one good thing to come out of this mess -- the next time the right wing claims that foolish political correctness is the exclusive province of the left, we can throw this one in their faces. And the left gets a fine example of what it looks like from the other side. Maybe now that both sides are doing it, it'll help everyone understand what a bad idea it is...
Tags: politics

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