America is officially retarded.

Well, ok, sorry, that’s a bit harsh. I don’t mean the entire country and every one of its 300 million citizens (though a fair whack of those people voted for George Bush not once but twice – the jury’s still out on exactly how many and whether either election was actually an actual election) – just whatever’s responsible for the zeitgeist that allows shit like this to happen.


Dunkin’ Donuts has pulled an online advertisement featuring Rachael Ray after complaints that a fringed black-and-white scarf that the celebrity chef wore in the ad offers symbolic support for Muslim extremism and terrorism.

Yep, that’s what it says. Here’s the offending accessory:

Run! She’s got an ICED LATTE!!!

People complained that her scarf reminded them of the black & white kaffiyeh – a traditional Arab head covering, most noticably worn by the late PLO leader Yasser Arafat and, as such, was a symbol of terrorism & America-hate & quite possibly baby-eating. Instead of laughing this off as an ignorant, laughable, ridiculous hysterical, conservative over-reaction, Dunkin Donuts pulled the ad. One particular retarded, paranoid and obviously lackwitted conservative commentator, Michelle Malkin, said that the kaffieyh “has come to symbolize murderous Palestinian jihad. Popularized by Yasser Arafat and a regular adornment of Muslim terrorists appearing in beheading and hostage-taking videos, the apparel has been mainstreamed by both ignorant (and not-so-ignorant) fashion designers, celebrities, and left-wing icons.”

Of course, this is the most retarded scarf-related story in the entire universe. For a start, Ms Ray isn’t wearing a kaffiyeh. That scarf is paisley. It’s black and white and has dangly bits just like a kaffiyeh, but it’s fucking PAISLEY. About as dangerous a pattern as tartan (do people run in the streets of London when they see a kilt? “Bwaugh, it’s William Wallace come to finish what he started 600 years ago! BWAAAAUGH!”). It’s also worn as a scarf should be – around the neck, not on her head like an Arab headscarf. Is Malkin going to raise the alarm if she happens to see some hipster loping arounf town in a pair of these?

That islamofascist over there – the one with the three-day growth, corduroy pants, canvas man-bag and iPod nano full of Death Cab For Cutie albums – has HOUNDSTOOTH ALL-STARS!! He’s come to rape your pets and steal our freedoms!! Shoot to kill!!

But, retarded as this is and as easily dismissed and ridiculed as it is (and has been, repeatedly and thoroughly throughout the instawebs and will probably have a headline dedicated on The Daily Show), it belies a deeper problem that only seems to be worsening in the United Sstates. The neo-McCarthyist, massively ignorant hysterical hyper-reaction is symptomatic of the culture of fear that seems to have pervaded and invaded American culture. It’s not really a recent development – I’m sure many can still recall the Salem-esque McCarthy years and the lengthy, costly fear-mongering of the 50-year Cold War. But the intensity has ramped up significantly in the last 7 years since the attacks on New York & Washington. 9/11/2001 was an deniably shocking and terrible event. However, rather than a sober & rational response, as you might expect from just about any other country in the world, the current administration immediately launched (among other things with which we’re all familiar) a fear-mongering campaign that Goebbels, the ultimate marketeer himself, would be proud of, which capitalised, unashamedly, on everyone’s new-found insecurity. No amount of ridiculous, irrational, racist, bigoted, paranoid hatred is too much for America right now and Malkin’s ejaculations are merely a small sample of it. Look, Ms Malkin & assorted complainants: it’s a black & white paisley scarf. It’s a not fucking suitcase bomb. Priorities, people! How about concentrating on something that’s actually important, like taking your government to task for whipping up a national debt your goddam grandchildren will still be paying for when their kids start high school? Perhaps if this administration (enabled by its knee-jerk gung-ho supporters, cheerleaders-of-death in the media and complacent, complicit populace) weren’t constantly making new, very real enemies basically everywhere they go in the world, people at home wouldn’t be seeing imaginary demons lurking everywhere, including around the necks of cute chicks drinking iced coffee.

I’m almost certain that if this happened in Australia or any other rational, functioning democracy, even if it got past the point of the advertisers scoffing behind cupped hands to each other while politely telling the complainants where they could “register their outrage” and actually became a story (on any program other than tabloid standard-bearer Today Tonight), it would be loudly & quickly ridiculed in just about every corner of the public sphere. You’d be able to hear the howls of derisive laughter, Bruce, clear across the bloody Pacific. Australians know a bona fide bullshit artist when they see one and anyone complaining about this ad would not only be regarded a wowser (and no doubt a bloody god-botherer), they’d likely be labelled mad as a shit-house rat to boot. Seriously, when you see a lady wearing a paisley scarf and immediately think “oh my GOD IT’S THE TERRORISTS!!” there’s a fair chance that you have a very, very tenuous grip, not only on your own sanity but on reality itself. Or, as you might say down here, you’ve got ‘roos in your top paddock …