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July 24, 2007

What Makes a Starbucksist (or how to fight Islamo-fascists with the power of our ideas)?
Posted by Shadi Hamid

This is wonderful, I thought to myself. Again, I had cosmic confirmation that Starbucks was more than just a store – or even a brand – but rather a way of life, a way of thinking… (I search for the write word)…an ideology (yes!). Well, it started when I got bored at the huge 6-person Starbucks table, and my eyes began shifting around restlessly. I was sick of democracy promotion and didn’t want to look at the screen. And then I saw it, “The Way I See It #267” (Look at your Starbucks cup).

This time a quote from Oliver Sacks, a neurologist, who tells us that “music can lift us out of depression or move us to tears – it is a remedy, a tonic, orange juice for the ear. But many of my neurological patients, music is even more – it can provide access, even when no medication can, to movement, to speech, to life. For them, music is not a luxury, but a necessity.” No, not a great quote to be sure, but good enough to make me write this post. Look, but then look closer, at the brown wrap-around holder that hugs your cup oh so snugly. It says “Starbucks is committed to reducing our environmental impact through increased use of post-consumer recycled materials. Help us help the planet.”

You want words, not just deeds, say you? Well, we are informed just below that this is not just any cup. This is a special cup. Maybe even a northeastern, studied-at-an-ivy-league, self-aware, I’m a liberal-and-proud-of it cup. “First-ever 10% post-consumer fiber cup/ 60% post-consumer fiber sleeve.” What the hell is “post-consumer”? No more posting! Post-Islamist (AKP), post-Secularist (no idea), post-religious (everyone in Europe who isn’t Muslim), post-Christian (the guy across the table from me), post-Republican (Ron Paul), post-Democrat (not gonna happen). But what exactly does “post-consumer” mean? Whatever it means, it sounds fresh, new, and above politics. Best of all, it sounds like something a liberal would say. Good then - I’m on board.

So you have it all. In short, a Starbucksist is someone who:

  • Is open to a multitude of opinions, even controversial ones. Pluralism.
  • Is not afraid to express his views (the brown snug holder says “After you read ‘The Way I See It,’ tell us how you see it”). Freedom of expression.
  • Has watched “An Inconvenient Truth” and is currently doing all he (or she) can to do something about his (or her) carbon footprint. Pro-environment.
  • Believes in artistic expression (music saves and opens). If you don’t think this is a big deal, then start hanging out with conservative Muslims who think that playing a guitar is forbidden (also known as CSS, “Cat Stevens Syndrome”).
  • Has a laptop (signifies economic development).
  • Supports free-range eggs (Look at the food section next time).
  • Supports labor rights, especially in South America (Starbucks is all about that).

There you have it: A vision. A narrative. A way of life. The terrorists are going down, goddamn it.


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Shadi, one of the things I love about your style is my delicious uncertainty about how much of this post, if any, is sarcastic. post-consumer means really, truly recycled -- as in it's not scraps from the shop floor, but someone else actually used it first. It's designed not to scare you by not reminding you that recycling means other people actually used the stuff you're now using.

You were drinking from a used fiber cup? Yuk. But only ten percent of it was used? I live out in the desert and there's no Starbucks within a hundred miles so I feel sorry for you. Perhaps the Starbucks cup is actually REPROCESSED. Reprocessing is the operation of reforming reclaimed materials into new products.

Free-range hens are debeaked at the hatchery the same as battery-caged hens. Debeaking is a painful mutilation that impairs the hens' ability to eat normally and to preen (practice bodily hygiene). Typically, 2,000 or more hens - each hen having only 1 to 2 square feet of floor space - are confined in a shed without access to the outdoors during their lives. If the hens can go outside, the exit usually is very small allowing only the closest hens to get out. The yard may be nothing but a mud yard saturated with droppings and intestinal coccidia and other parasites. Egg production produces "excess" roosters with no commercial value. (Over half of the chicks hatched are roosters.) For this reason, the baby brothers of the "free-range" hens are suffocated to death or ground up alive at the hatchery the same as those of battery-caged hens.

Enjoy your meal. And consider adding vegetarian to your Starbucksist list.

In New York, Starbucks has been an object for unionization. Their liberalism only goes so far and so far they are furiously resisting a union for their workers. Besides their coffee is questionable, their enviroment is plastic phony and their saturation m,arketing is driving independent coffee houses out of business.

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