Target: Kenneth Cole
Goal: Apologize for offensive tweet about crisis in Syria
Over 100,000 are dead in Syria as the two-year-old civil war between dictator Bashar al-Assad and rebel insurgents continues. In the aftermath of a chemical attack allegedly launched by Assad’s forces which killed 1,429 people, the United States government is debating military action against the Syrian ruler while the American public is uneasy. One designer, however, unbelievably saw this ongoing tragedy as an excuse to sell shoes.
“’Boots on the ground’ or not, let’s not forget about sandals, pumps and loafers. #Footwear,” tweeted Kenneth Cole, who apparently thought nothing gets the American people in the mood to go shopping like a humanitarian crisis and the prospect of another war. Not surprisingly, Twitter users took to protest, with creative replies including “1,429 casualties from sarin gas. Speaking of which, don’t be a fashion casualty this fall…” and “Husband and family dead in a gas attack? Get that perfect funeral dress, now on sale!”
This is not Cole’s first time mocking a Middle Eastern crisis for the purpose of hocking merchandise. During the 2011 protests in Egypt, Cole tweeted “Millions are in uproar in #Cairo. Rumor has it they heard our new spring collection is now available online.” Though he apologized for that comment, he has decided to stand firm with supporting his tweet on Syria. In an Instragram video posted in response, he said “For 30 years I have used my platform in provocative ways to encourage a healthy dialogue about important issues, including HIV/AIDS, war, and homelessness.”
Making light of mass deaths in a civil war for the purpose of selling shoes, however, does not constitute a “healthy dialogue about important issues.” It instead, intentionally or not, shows crass insensitivity towards the suffering of others. By signing this petition, you will ask Cole to apologize for his offensive tweet.
Dear Mr. Cole,
I am writing to object to your recent tweet about the crisis in Syria. In response to the debate over United States military involvement in the country, you wrote “’Boots on the ground’ or not, let’s not forget about sandals, pumps and loafers. #Footwear.” While you may have meant this remark to be humorous, it shows a callous indifference to both the American public’s fears of committing soldiers to another war as well as to the ongoing crisis in Syria.
Currently in Syria, over 100,000 have been killed in an ongoing civil war between President Bashar Al-Assad and rebel fighters. 1,429 died in the chemical weapons attack, believed to be committed by Assad’s forces, which is motivating the debate over military action. Such a humanitarian tragedy is not something which should be exploited for the purposes of selling shoes.
After you made an offensive tweet about the protests in Egypt in 2011, you apologized. However, you defend your response to Syria as provoking debate. In an Instagram video, you stated “For 30 years I have used my platform in provocative ways to encourage a healthy dialogue about important issues, including HIV/AIDS, war, and homelessness.”
If this was your intent, you failed. Making light of mass deaths in a civil war for the purpose of selling shoes does not constitute a “healthy dialogue about important issues.” It instead, intentionally or not, shows crass insensitivity towards the suffering of others. I ask that you apologize for your tweet about Syria.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Manfred Werner (Tsui) via Wikimedia Commons