Tolerant Nasrallah, Intolerant Malkin: It's More than a Garment Thing

McCain's daughter is pictured wearing a scarf that looks like the Arab scarf, the Kaffieh.

Rachel Ray wearing the same scarf in a Dunkin Donuts commercial led to pressure from right wingers. This pressure resulted in Dunkin Donuts withdrawing this commercial. Too bad. Ms Ray looked great in the scarf.

But Dunkin Donuts did not want to deal with the controversy and Rachel Ray did not need the headache of a tiny minority of zealots using the web to call her "Jihadist Sympathizer" among other things.

Thousands of miles away, Hizbullah held a rally in Beirut.

The news item of the event had a picture of a young woman, dressed in Jeans and T shirt, holding Sayed Nasrallah's picture. This young woman looked like any average young woman in a Western city.

As any visitor to the areas dominated by the Hizbullah finds great diversity in dress from the ultra conservative chador to the tight Jeans and T- shirt. Unlike the Taliban, the Islamists of Hizbullah, surprisingly but smartly, have a liberal dress code for those living in their areas.

I am not surprised that the right wing goes after anything that puts Arabs or Arab symbols in a positive light. They hate Arabs and hate their symbols and want to make sure that nothing of Arabic origin be seen as normal and part of American culture (they should be consistent and stop using our Arabic numerals). The right wingers engage in a holy war against this scarf under the pretext that it is a symbol of radicals or terrorists. Millions of ordinary people wear these scarves in the Arab world. The fact that a few radicals and terrorists wear it does not transform its nature as an Arab garment. I have read that a number of those accused of hate crimes against Arabs in Chicago have a flag post on their lawn. Does this fact diminish the American flag?

I am not surprised. This is the same country where some elected officials had French fries renamed Freedom Fries. But the key difference between the campaign against French products and the Arab scarf is that the campaign on the scarf is a part of the effort to feed an image of the Arab as foreign, threatening and dangerous. An Arab scarf or something that looks like it worn by Ms McCain and Ms Ray takes away from that and that can never be allowed by the merchants of the Arab is evil and the Arab is the other.

When Hizbullah shows more tolerance to personal dress than Michele Malkin, we know that there is something wrong in the land of the First Amendment.


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