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Unleash The Dogs of War... Or Was That The War On Dogs???

by Joseph Brean / National Post Tuesday, Oct. 09, 2001 at 7:29 PM

How crazy does jingoism make you? Consider this: Last week the Afghan Hound Club of America said some of its members have been threatened because of their pets' supposed "nationality."

October 4, 2001

Pet Owners Catching Heat, Hotels Taking Down Signs

Joseph Brean

National Post

Some dog owners and small businesses say they are feeling the effects of anti-Afghanistan sentiment after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.

The Afghan Hound Club of America said yesterday some of its members have been threatened because of their pets' supposed "nationality."

Duane Butherus, the club president, said five members with "AFGHAN" on their vanity licence plates have been yelled at while waiting at stop signs. One woman was berated for walking her dog in a public park by someone who recognized the slim, angular breed known for its long hair and hunting prowess.

"No Afghan hound has come out of Afghanistan since the early '30s," said Mr. Butherus, who warned his members to "be very careful" of "misguided" people.

Fear of harassment has also prompted some businesses, such as ski resorts and hotels, to remove all perceived links to Afghanistan. That country's ruling Taleban regime is harbouring Osama bin Laden, the suspected architect of the attacks on the United States.

The Kabul Hostel in Barcelona, a popular stop on the European backpacking circuit, has decided to change its name.

Manager Roger Cisneros said the name was originally chosen to give guests a feeling of "excitement ... The name does not have any other type of cultural, political or religious meaning."

Paul Rutherford, a history professor who studies marketing at the University of Toronto, said the effort to remove Afghan words from public display recalls the anti-German sentiment of the First World War.

Germany went from respected cultural, scientific and political world leader to international villain, Prof. Rutherford said, as people scrambled to remove German references everywhere.

The British Royal Family dropped its German surname, Saxe-Cobourg-Gotha, in favour of Windsor. Berlin, Ont., became Kitchener, frankfurters were referred to as liberty sausages, sauerkraut as victory cabbage, and universities either dropped classes on German literature or incorporated the material into other courses.

That was a real wave," Prof. Rutherford said. "When the Volkswagen came to North America, one of the tasks of the advertising agency was to make sure that it was not identified as Hitler's car."

Uncertainty about the real enemy in a war on terrorism has prevented a strong consumer backlash against Afghanistan, he said.

"What's being demonized by the propaganda at the present moment is the Taleban regime, not the Afghanis, and you're also getting a counterpropaganda which is emphasizing the refugee crisis. So it's a more complicated picture," Prof. Rutherford said.

"There's not a demonization of the Afghani people yet, but that could happen, and if it does, then I think you would find people who would stop buying Afghani carpets and things."

Business at Afghan Oriental Rugs and Carpets in Toronto is "a little slow," manager Abduluadood Tabivzada admitted.

Michel Aubin, president of Mont Tremblant ski resort in Quebec, said people may be "put off" that the Kandahar hotel at the foot of the mountain shares a name with the Taleban's southern stronghold. The hotel was renamed The Country Inn Suites on Sept. 19, but the change had been planned for months, he said.

Management at Ontario's Blue Mountain ski resort is considering changing the name of its Kandahar ski run.

Mr. Butherus said the Afghan Hound club's meeting next month will go ahead, with no increased security measures.

"Sometimes there's a marquee sign in front of the hotel, though, and we've suggested that people make certain it says 'Afghan hounds,' and not just 'Welcome Afghans.' I think that's a common-sense move."

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