Friday, February 03, 2006

An Open Letter to King Mohammed VI: Boycotts is So Stupid!

Dear King Mohammed VI:
Hi. How are you? I understand Sudan has recently joined the growing legion of Arab countries to boycott all things Danish. I'm not certain how many Danish items are available in Sudan; during my last visit to Khartoum, I didn't see a whole lot of Carlsberg for sale. Or maybe Sudan has chosen to ban the importation of insulin, as Denmark produces over half the world's supply. That would suck if you were a diabetic. Did the Sudanese toss their Lego sets into bonfires at the confluence of the Blue & White Niles? - I hope not. The Indiana Jones Lego sets were especially cool. Now I appreciate the fact that Muslims worldwide are miffed over the "Mohammed cartoon". Personally, when I saw it, I laughed but I find humour in jibes at Christ as well. My brother Frank may well remember a personal favourite of mine entitled "Jesus Changes Water into Urine". But did the Arab world boycott Warner Brothers and issue death threats against Chuck Jones because of "Sahara Hare"? Did camels the world over bristle over Sahara Sam's observation that "camels is so stupid". Well maybe. Or maybe they laughed. Laughing can be - er, fun. And to paraphrase our bedouin friend, "boycotts is so stupid."

Today Moroccans will be marching on Parliament in Rabat and engage in a sit-in-demonstration. I support their right to do so just as I support the France Soir's decision to use the headline "we have the right to caricature God". But I ask, no I beg you not to boycott Danish goods. Boycotts don't work. John Lennon's comments about the Beatle's popularity being greater than that of Jesus Christ didn't seem to hurt record sales. Why? .... because boycotts don't work (bears repeating).

Denmark's sales to the whole of Africa account for less that € 5 million a year - a pittance compared to the almost €400 million it accrues from trade within Europe. Kinda negligible.

Boycotting the producers of Kinder Surprises (although otherwise laudable) will have zero impact on the Danish cartoonist and publisher who printed the cartoon.

The violence of Muslim's reaction (and subsequent boycotting) entrenches stereotypes that Muslims are reactionary wingnuts. As Tarek Fatah, a director of the Muslim Canadian Congress, observed, " The protests in the Middle East have proven that the cartoonist was right."

Here's another thought: let Mohammed fight his own battles. I bet he could smite those Danes if he really wanted to. But let him do it. We have killed too many men, women, and children in the name of god for far too long. How long: since Christ wore kneepants, as Dad used to say. Jeez, should I have boycotted my father for slurs against Christianity?

Now that I've attempted to present a rational argument against boycotting Danish goods, let me reveal my not-very hidden agenda: Danish Blue .... oh yum! I love Danish blue cheese. I'm a vegetarian in a land bereft of tasty alternatives and options for me. Can't find tofu, seitan - not that I expected to, but still. So I have had to compromise my otherwise vegan diet to allow for dairy. A cheese sandwich and a veggie pizza are my 2 sole dining options in Rabat's restaurants so I didn't have much of a choice. This was ethically a difficult choice but an easy one gastronomically-speaking. I love cheese. And yes, cow and goat's cheese is a tad tastier than rice cheese. Do you really want to deprive a guest to your country of a valuable source of calcium & protein? I didn't think so. In response to your attention to this little matter, I will attempt to keep my references to you & your jet-ski to a minimum. Or if you must show solidarity with your Muslim brethern, could you boycott selectively? Maybe ban teak furniture and salad bowl sets but leave me those little buttery pretzel-shaped cookies ... and the cheese?

Say hi to Princess Lalla Salma (I bet she'd agree with me).

Sincerely Yours,
Cat in Rabat


Anonymous Lady M said...

Totally agree.

2:53 p.m.  

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