Old Wives' Tales
Radio & TV
Toxin du jour
Claim: Employees at Dunkin' Donuts outlets desecrated American flags and celebrated the 9/11 terrorist attack on America.
Example: [Collected via e-mail, 2001]
Origins: The story reproduced above is wholly fallacious, just one of many similar snippets of gossip aired about a number of commercial entities, both large and small, after the
Dunkin' Donuts immediately looked into the rumor and determined through interviews with employees on duty that day that nothing of the sort had taken place. Additionally, police examined video of the store's operations that day and found nothing to the claims made about the Cedar Grove store:
Threats against Dunkin' Donuts employees who were rumored to have celebrated Tuesday's attacks led to a decision to close the Cedar Grove store temporarily, a store spokesman said. Police later said a store video proved there was no truth to the rumor, which they said provoked threats against the employees — one Asian Indian and two Americans.The rumors about employees of Arab extraction celebrating upon receiving news of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon have been attached to numerous businesses beside Dunkin' Donuts. What needs be kept in mind is that these kinds of rumors are not specific to any one company, therefore any thoughts of the "Where there's smoke, there's fire" variety should immediately be dismissed. They're baseless rumors, and whom they're aimed at has nothing to do with the named party's having done anything to bring it upon itself. For example:
My mom's friend was in the National Liquidator store in the Forest Avenue Plaza when the crashes happened.Same wolf, just cloaked in a different sheepskin.
The workers, owners, etc. were all cheering and laughing.
Can you imagine, only a few blocks from us, these sick bastards were cheering for this horrendous act?
They are taking our money by providing cheap everyday things to us and cheering when our family & friends are killed!!
Please forward this to your friends & family to let them know what kind of demented people live in our neighborhoods!!
And do not for any reason go into their stores.
If you know of any other stores we should not be going into due to things like this or unsafe situations, please let us know.
Large chains aren't the only commercial entities tarred with this undeserved brush; numerous small firms had versions of the same slander applied to them. According to breathless rumor spread willy-nilly, Arabs have been caught in the act of celebrating the strike against the twin towers and the Pentagon in bagel shops, restaurants, stores, and coffee houses — anywhere customers could conceivably have witnessed such outpourings. False rumors like these run on very fast legs indeed, and spontaneous boycotts sprang up in their wake. These boycotts have done irreparable harm to the many innocent businesses swept up by this wave of
Combatting a rumor is rarely an easy task. The very nature of gossip almost guarantees that a tale's originator will not be found, nor will any of its early disseminators. By the time a false charge has grown large enough for its effect to be noticed (or to even to fall upon the ears of those defamed by it), the ones who started the smear are long gone, while their creation spreads outwards in exponential fashion.
Those to whom falls the unhappy task of quelling the harmful rumors that have attached to their firms at least have a bit of a chance at getting to the source when what was said is distributed via
One such combatant is a gas station in Naperville, Illinois. It is attempting to sue a variety of folks who participated in a similar baseless slander against it.
In a wider context, the basic rumor is even sometimes voiced as a generalized "Arabs were celebrating in the streets" claim:
Have you heard that Arab Americans were publicly celebrating the events ofNeedless to say, such a story would not have been sat upon by the media; it would have run on every news outlet across the nation in the same manner as the purported video of
Other blossomings of these rumor have Arab schoolchildren cheering from their seats in U.S. schools, and another widespread version drew in former NFL star Terry Bradshaw:
I have heard a few times that after theBradshaw refuted the rumor on the 31 October 2001 edition of television's 20/20 news magazine, but the folks at "The John Boy & Billy Show" tell us the account was based on a real incident, albeit starring a different Bradshaw:
There is a rumor going around about a football player, who on seeing
I'm pleased to be able to point out the original source for the rumor about "Terry Bradshaw vs. the Arabs." The incident happened to a friend and business associate of ours, Brad Bradshaw, who's a regional rep for Pabst Blue Ribbon beer. Brad was in Las Vegas on business onBeyond the myriad of "Is it true?" questions arising from such rumors lurks the larger issue of what such rumors say about the current feeling in America towards Muslims and those from Arab countries. We are all too aware that the terrorists who struck on
Brad was on the street near the Bally's hotel/casino when he saw a group of five Middle Eastern men giggling as they dragged an American flag across the sidewalk on the opposite side of the street. Incensed by the display, the former University of Tennessee linebacker darted across the traffic, intending to rip the flag from the group's hands. After a brief dustup, Brad and the five men were detained by Vegas police, who held the six of them for a short time.
Rumored reports of Arabs celebrating wildly as they viewed the planes striking the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon work to confirm that sense of unease, in that they seem to say we'll never know what truly resides in the hearts of Muslims and Arab-Americans or where their actual loyalties lie. As such, these rumors give voice to deeply felt concerns that otherwise would be difficult to put into words.
It's a shame, but our mistrust (even though it may be justly felt in light of how innocuous the terrorists appeared to be prior to
Likewise, calls to shun particular businesses named in the "celebrating Arabs" rumor strike a responsive chord with a populace in desperate need to feel it is doing something to aid its country. Those possessed of a particular foreign look thus find themselves the target of a great deal of misplaced anger as those in need of venting some of the poison from their systems latch upon seemingly appropriate targets. One cannot, after all, scoop up a gun and take off to Afghanistan to participate in bringing bin Laden to bay, but one can quite vocally participate in a mis-aimed boycott. The need for a cathartic release at times overwhelms the need to direct the spew towards only those who truly deserve it. Bystanders become victims, and the truth limps in a far distant second to the need not to feel helpless in the face of a menace that cannot easily be grasped or guarded against.
Barbara "menace at work" Mikkelson
Last updated: 6 December 2005
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