Saturday, April 28, 2007


I don't know how many wingnuts read the Saturday business section of The New York Times, but I really think I hear some of them freaking out at this:

…Consumer companies and advertising executives are focusing on ways to use the cultural aspects of the Muslim religion to help sell their products.

Grocers and consumer product companies are considering ways to adapt their goods to Muslim rules, which forbid among other things, gelatin and pig fat, which is often used in cosmetics and cleaning products. Retailers are looking into providing more conservative skirts, even during the summer months, and mainstream advertisers are planning to place some commercials on the satellite channels that Muslims often watch.

Marketing to Muslims carries some risks. But advertising executives, used to dividing American consumers into every sort of category, say that ignoring this group -- estimated to be about five million to eight million people, and growing fast -- would be like missing the Hispanic market in the 1990s….

I love this. I want Muslim-Americans to hear the media message "We like you! You're welcome here! We embrace you as Muslims and as Americans, and we'd be delighted if you'd spend money on our products, which we'll tweak, if necessary, so you'll buy more of them from us!"

I especially love it because nearly all of the wingnuts who despise Muslims have embraced capitalism wholeheartedly -- unlike nativists from America's past, they love big business. How can they complain about this?

Anti-Muslim wingnuts love to refer to anyone who makes any accommodation whatsoever for Muslims as a "dhimmi" -- a reference to the requirement under sharia law that non-Muslims pay a tax to practice their religion. Obnoxious as the widespread use of that term on the right has become (in reference to all Muslims everywhere), wingnuts can't call this "dhimmitude" -- it's the exact opposite of "dhimmitude," because the people reaching out are doing it to make money.

Plus, it will be fun to hear wingnuts squeal at this:

Companies in the Detroit area, where there is a dense population of Muslims, are leading the change. A McDonald’s there serves halal Chicken McNuggets; Walgreens has Arabic signs in its aisles. And now, Ikea, which recently opened a store in the suburb of Canton, Mich., that has had trouble attracting as many Muslim customers as it had hoped, has been touring local homes and talking to Muslims to figure out their needs.

The store there plans to sell decorations for Ramadan next fall and is adding halal meat to its restaurant menu, or meat that is prepared according to Islamic law. Catalogs in Arabic are being planned, and…

-- this is my favorite part --

…and female Muslim employees are expected to be given an Ikea-branded hijab, to wear over their head if they wish.

Brilliant -- cultural respect plus branding. You gotta love the Swedes.

Am I supposed to be upset at this? How does any of it harm me? I eat kosher meat. I've pressed the occasional elevator button for Orthodox Jews who didn't want to operate machinery on a Saturday. What, am I desperately attached to gelatin and pig fat in my consumer products if there's a perfectly good alternative?

This is a good thing. This will help us all get along.

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