By Arturo R. García
Nobody’s saying All-American Muslim is perfect, but when was the last time a reality show was attacked for being … you know, realistic?
Yet that seems to be at the heart of the complaint filed by the Florida Family Association, which has resulted in a number of companies, most notably the Lowe’s hardware chain, pulling advertising from the program. On its website, the FFA says:
The first two episodes start off with Muslim youth complaining about non-Muslim Americans’ perception of them as extremists after 911. The show then reports on these youths’ daily, weekly and monthly prayer rituals. Many Imams who are at the head of these prayer rituals believe strongly in Islam and Sharia law. This TLC show clearly failed to connect the dots on this point but then again that appears to be their intent.
Many situations were profiled in the show from a Muslim tolerant perspective while avoiding the perspective that would have created Muslim conflict thereby contradicting The Learning Channel’s agenda to inaccurately portray Muslims in America.
The fear-mongering only goes on from there.
A company spokeswoman, Katie Cody, told The Washington Post it was Lowe’s understanding that All-American “raised concerns, complaints, or issues from multiple sides of the viewer spectrum,” without specifying any of those other viewpoints. Cody added, of course, that it wasn’t the company’s “intent to alienate anyone.”
Well, too late for that.
The FFA is also claiming responsibility for a whole host of companies pulling their ads from the show though at least three denied that allegation to The Post. (A list of sponsors no longer advertising on Muslim can be found here.)
Not only has the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee called Lowe’s out for caving in, but the incident has started to get attention outside television circles: Global Grind is organizing a petition in support of the show, while mogul/activist Russell Simmons took to both the press and Twitter to blast the company:
And the office of California Senator Ted Lieu (D-CA) posted a letter from him to Lowe’s CEO Robert Niblock calling on the company to apologize for its decision:
Lowe’s action is profoundly ignorant. Islam is a peaceful religion practiced by over 1.5 billion people, including Americans across our great nation and Lowe’s own employees. As President Bush declared, and President Obama reaffirmed, America is not at war with Islam.
America is, however, at war with people who pose a clear and present danger, whether they are white separatists like Timothy McVeigh (who happened to be Catholic); mass shooters such as Seung-Hui Cho at Virginia Tech ; or members of the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Army (a Marxist-Leninist group that has targeted US interests with suicide bombings). Lowe’s bigoted action conflates peaceful religions with dangerous people who use peaceful religions (or political ideology) to advance their agenda.
Lowe’s religious discrimination is the equivalent of a company asserting that it is pulling advertising from the Christian Broadcast Network’s 700 Club because the program somehow “riskily hides” the agenda of Christian radicalized groups such as Aryan Nation. That assertion would, of course, be utter nonsense and religious bigotry.
Like many bullies, the FFA doesn’t work alone; it’s an ally of the American Family Association, which was tagged as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center last year. And AFA spokesman lives up to that label at seemingly every turn, whether it be by sounding off on “Muslim turkeys;” arguing that the First Amendment shouldn’t apply to Mormons; or saying Jesus Christ Himself would flog the Occupy Wall Street movement; or offering Muslims a choice: convert to Christianity or die:
So we say to them, look, if you don’t want our missionaries, fine, that’s your choice, we’ll take our missionaries and our Marines, we’ll take them home, but we’re going to let you know we have no hesitation about returning with lethal force if the forces in your country threaten us again. This time it’s Marines and missionaries, next time it’ll be Marines and missiles.
To its credit, a spokesman for The Learning Channel, which airs Muslim, told Entertainment Weekly, “We stand behind the show All American Muslim and we’re happy the show has strong advertising support.”
But you might be wondering, why would Lowe’s kowtow to the views of a discriminating bunch of wingnuts? It might be as simple as sharing political bedfellows: the company makes no bones about being an active contributor … to the Republican party, which actively courts groups like the AFA. “Multiple sides of the viewer spectrum”? Seems more and more like they’re only coming from the right side of the aisle.