home
RSS
My Take: Is ‘All-American Muslim’ begetting all-American bigotry?
One of the families on TLC's "All-American Muslim."
December 12th, 2011
10:29 PM ET

My Take: Is ‘All-American Muslim’ begetting all-American bigotry?

Editor's note: Arsalan Iftikhar is an international human rights lawyer, global media commentator and author of the book "Islamic Pacifism: Global Muslims in the Post-Osama Era."

By Arsalan Iftikhar, Special to CNN

Imagine for a moment that a major American corporation decided to remove its commercials from a reality television show highlighting the everyday lives of Latinos, African-Americans, members of the LGBT community or Jewish Americans because of coordinated letter-writing campaigns from right-wing organizations.

If you think this kind of bigotry could not happen in modern-day America, you would be absolutely wrong.

The hardware and building supply chain Lowe’s has pulled its TV commercials from future episodes of TLC’s new reality show “All-American Muslim” after a letter-writing campaign by the Florida Family Association, a Christian group.

The Tampa-based organization has urged companies to pull ads because it alleges the show is “propaganda clearly designed to counter legitimate and present-day concerns about many Muslims who are advancing Islamic fundamentalism and Sharia law.”

This argument is lunacy and is a pretext for bigotry against Muslims, plain and simple. Using this sophomoric logic, the TLC reality show "Sister Wives" is a covert campaign to promote fundamentalist Mormon polygamy across America.

Nonetheless, in response to the growing controversy, Lowe's issued a terribly weak statement (and non-apology) on its Facebook page which states, in part:

“Lowe’s has received a significant amount of communication on this program, from every perspective possible. Individuals and groups have strong political and societal views on this topic, and this program became a lightning rod for many of those views. As a result, we did pull our advertising on this program.”

Wait a minute, Lowe’s. Exactly what "topic" are you talking about? Are we 7 million American Muslims merely a "topic" to discuss in today’s America? In 2011, do we live in a country in which an entire minority group can be dehumanized as a “topic?”

Plus, it is cowardly for Lowe’s not to  even mention this "topic" (aka Muslims) by name in its public statements.

What if right-wing groups were mobilizing against a television show highlighting the everyday lives of Latinos, African-Americans, Jewish people or gay people? Would Lowe’s have buckled?

Of course not.

What makes this national controversy all the more troubling is that many of the more than 12,000 comments responding to Lowe’s Facebook statement endorse the chain store’s decision, and in jingoistic language that is a lot less oblique than Lowe’s. Here are some of the comments that were showcased by BuzzFeed:

- “Thank you Lowes, for pulling your advertising from “All American Muslims” show (there is no such thing as “All American Muslims”).”

- “[The women on the TLC show] were almost pretty, till they put rags on their heads.”

- “How dare these people come into our country and try to take over and push their religion onto us!”

- “Thank you for pulling your support for American Muslim, now I will come back and shop in your stores.”

I wonder whether these people would ever have the guts to say these same things about other religious and ethnic groups in America today.

Do these people know that the cast members for "All-American Muslim" include a federal agent and a deputy chief of the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office, both of whom are proud American Muslims?

Do they know that some of America’s foremost heroes and celebrities, from boxer Muhammad Ali to comedian Dave Chappelle, are proud Muslims?

Just as anti-black, anti-Semitic, homophobic or anti-Latino campaigns should have no place in our country, it is important for Americans of all races, religions and ethnicities to stand up against the bigoted campaign against "All-American Muslim."

Otherwise, TLC might as well change the name of its show to "All-American Bigotry."

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Arsalan Iftikhar.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Islam • Opinion • TV

soundoff (2,079 Responses)
  1. Jim

    Lowes is free to do as they please. I've never seen "American Muslim" because I
    don't watch anything on the mis-named "The Learning Channel". But since it's on this channel, I suspect
    it's propaganda. When Muslim Americans have the guts to publicly go after their own extremists instead of
    easy targets like Lowes, then we wouldn't need to be convinced with these "reality" shows.

    December 13, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
    • Yacov

      Since moderate Muslims aren't responsible for 9/11, they are not obligated to apologize for it. Did you apologize for Timmy McVeigh?

      December 13, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
    • William Demuth

      So Jimmy, when are the Jesus freaks gonna control your own?

      Deviants, thieves, bigots, war mongerers and pedophilles are as common in your faith as liars are in the Senate.

      December 13, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
    • Sheep

      Did you apologize for your Christians Priests that Moleste Children?

      December 13, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
    • PhillyRN

      Did he mention only 9/11? That is not the only example of the extremely high body count committed in the name of Islam. There were murders of Christians just this week and murders of moderate Muslims and innocent bystanders.

      When are Muslims going to denounce the violence committed in the name of Islam daily? See http://www.thereligionofpeace.com which is a list of the news articles all over the world covering Muslim violence committed in the self-professed name of Islam.

      I get that people don't want Islam to be this violent. Even Obama clearly wants there to be an Islam that is moderate which controls the Muslim world.

      But it is just not there yet, by the facts.

      December 13, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
  2. ASDF

    Lowe's showed repugnant cowardice in the face of equally repugnant racism and bigotry. If Lowe's was losing money in sales as a result of their support, I could understand their position as a purely fiscal one. However, Lowe's decided that they would buckle under the pressure of uninformed morons asserting their "right" to stay uninformed morons.

    December 13, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
  3. ToldUso

    This white Roman catholic just sent a note to Lowe's telling them that I won't support their ignorance and bigotry with my shopping dollars. Here's their e-mail address if you'd like to, too. customercare@lowes.com

    December 13, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
    • life5678

      And this secular black man just sent a letter to lowe's tellin them they have ALL my business!!

      December 13, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
    • Sybaris

      Robert A Niblock is Lowes CEO and chairs the Lowes Diversity Council

      Here's his email address:

      robert.a.niblock@lowes.com

      December 13, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
  4. Fritz Hohenheim

    Well my opinion has always been that America is not at war with the muslim world. Unfortunately though the muslim world is at war with America.

    December 13, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
    • life5678

      The Muslim world is at war with the non-muslim world. Every war in the world today is over Islam. EVERY ONE! Look for yourself.

      December 13, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
    • gss

      "The Muslim WORLD is at war with America" Huh? Maybe some terrorists, who happen to be Muslim, want a fight with America. Terrorists are not just brown people from the middle-east. Wow, where do you get your information? What about the judge in Florida who repeatedly beat his 16 year old child with a leather belt. Is he not a terrorist? Is the state of Florida at war with America? How about a handful of white republicans who threaten to hurt black people if they show up to vote? Is that not an act of terrorism? Is the GOP at war with America? Well, maybe.

      December 13, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
  5. Sarah

    Wow, the megaphonies were out in full force on this one.

    December 13, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
  6. jack

    Religion...All about hate.

    December 13, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
    • PhillyRN

      No one who opposed this show is saying to hate Muslims or deprive them of their human rights. Just the opposite - we're saying give ALL Muslims their universal human rights, the right to vote, drive, believe in the religion of their own choosing, to be free of torture, to practice free speech.

      A show that refuses to show what Islam is doing in the world now in its name is not honest. We want honesty about Islam, not the PC spin that says "believe our version or we call you bigoted.' If any religion could get first honors for being full of self-stated bigots, you have the richness of Islam in the world to thank for that prize.

      December 13, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
    • ASDF

      @PhillyRN – this show was never about what Muslims are doing all over the world. If that were true, the show would be inaccurate. This show, however, is about normal Muslim families in the US. The fact that this challenges the racists pea-sized brains doesn't make it inaccurate. These idiots just want to continue to believe that Muslims are all evil despite all evidence to the contrary.

      December 13, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
  7. Jimbo

    So how about the 1000s of other corporations that didn't buy ad time to support this program. Why don't all you cry babies go and bomard them for being racist, after all they must not support muslims becuase they didn't want to advertise during the program. Idiots.

    December 13, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
    • CynicLgrrl

      Do you have the 'list' of the thousands of corporations?– because i'm gonna need that.

      December 13, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
    • life5678

      CynicLgrrl – you can find that list in any newspaper – see the DOW listings.

      December 13, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
  8. CynicLgrrl

    It's pretty ironic that a company centered around building and repair can buckle to and support such divisiveness and intolerance. Never shopping there again. Your store BLOWES.

    December 13, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
    • PhillyRN

      What about Wrigley? Or did you even watch the show? Was dumping a 14 year old dog just fine because it's the woman's religion?

      December 13, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
    • Andy in Phoenix

      I see what you did there.

      December 13, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
  9. birdiegirl

    I have really enjoyed the show. With all the anti-muslim filth floating around, I've made it family viewing and I am using it as a teaching opportunity for my son. Issues and questions come up while watching the show and I can explain religious differences and point out to him that just because someone seems differently outwardly, we're all the same when it comes down to it. This show has been a great teaching opportunity. I only wish it had come out years ago... maybe there would be less anti-muslim sentiment today. (And for all you bigots out there, I'm a non-muslim white girl who lives in the VERY deep south.)

    December 13, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
    • PhillyRN

      So getting rid of Wrigley the dog by just dumping him was OK?

      December 13, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
  10. Ranger14

    Let's prove to Lowe's that catering to the tolerant is more profitable than catering to the intolerant. I urge all people of conscience to boycot Lowe's until they change their stance If we don't stand together, this county will keep creeping backwards as it caters to the bigotry and ignorance.

    December 13, 2011 at 1:04 pm |
    • PhillyRN

      What about the Christians that were killed this week in Nigeria and Kenya? What about the dissident Sufi Muslims who were killed in Pakistan? What about the innocent Muslim women and children killed by jihadis in Afghanistan?

      Who is the intolerant one here again? Americans have to start reading the newspapers - the Islam in the world that is behind murders, beheadings, child marriages, being forced to marry your rapist, and that was just from this month's news - is not tolerant.

      Tolerance of bigotry and violence is intolerance. It's how the Nazis came to power. It's how these countries avoid sanction today for their treatment of religious minorities.

      December 13, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
    • life5678

      PhillyRN
      Thank you! at least someone on here gets it! You'd think they all forgot about 9-11

      December 13, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
    • ASDF

      @PhillyRN: Nobody was suggesting that we tolerate Muslims in the US doing illegal or immoral things. That would be dumb. This show was trying to prove that you can tolerate muslims in the US behaving like every other citizen. Also, the Nazi's started out by saying that, regardless of what you think about one normal group of people, they are all dangerous. So who's on the wrong side of the fence now?

      December 13, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
    • ASDF

      Also, the way that the Nazi's got everybody on their side was preventing any Jew-friendly media from existing. They similarly referred to that as propaganda. Your obtuse analysis shows your lack of understanding.

      December 13, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
  11. ModernMan

    I'm not sure we will ever look across religious divides the same... it's way too easy to simply dismiss based on a religious affiliation or other grouping.

    December 13, 2011 at 1:03 pm |
    • JHood

      (non-Muslim) Gays, Jews, Latinos and African-Americans didn't fly planes into our buildings, behead our citizens, declare war on our political principles, or try to justify all of those things by blaming America for its foreign policy.

      December 13, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
    • ASDF

      @JHood: non-muslims do those things all the time. Oklahoma City? Gabrielle Gifford's shooting? The Uni-Bomber? And *gasp* – THOSE WERE ALL WHITE PEOPLE TOO!!!! LETS GET ALL THE WHITE PEOPLE BANNED FROM TV FOR THEIR PROPAGANDA!

      December 13, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
  12. Frank A.

    SHAME ON CNN for politicizing a decision that Lowes has made. They have every right to choose where to spend their money (legally that is). CNN has blown this whole issue out of proportion. I see the above opinion as more polarizing than the actual event. The author's opinion just goes to show us Americans that tolerance only goes in one direction--we are to be tolerant and let the world walk all over us , but it is very politically "incorrect" to say that someone else has to be tolerant of our American freedoms.

    December 13, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
    • Susn

      How is this "walking all over us?"

      December 13, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
    • Jagermeister

      The news is that a Florida based Christian group can influence bigotry at the corporate scale. Stop trying to hide that.

      December 13, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
    • Michael

      I completely agree.

      December 13, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
    • life5678

      Lowe's is a privatly owned company, they have their own beliefs and support shows that are in harmony with those beliefs. that is their RIGHT as AMERICANS you closed minded people!

      December 13, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
  13. Komal

    It is a BIG MISTAKE and misconception to believe that Lowe's would not react the same way if the FFA's letter was about Gay, Jewish, Latino, or African-American people. Discrimination isn't particularized to just one group and if Lowe's was spineless enough to pull their add based on right wing opinion on Muslim-America then and backed up their retraction of Ad's with a weakly organized Facebook post, you are underestimating how tolerant Corporate America is with the rest of us minorities.

    December 13, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
    • life5678

      Being African is not a choice, being MUSLIM is. Lowe's made their choice too.

      December 13, 2011 at 1:04 pm |
  14. James

    Instead of threatening to boycott Lowes, why don't these right wing christian fanatics boycott TLC? who are the other advertisers? why don't they put up their own ad during the show, showing their wonderful right wind fundamentalist christian views of how loving and accepting they are of their neighbors.... (as long as those neighbors are christian, of course!)

    December 13, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
    • life5678

      AS long as their neighbors to blow up the World Trade center and everything else.

      December 13, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
    • Jen

      I don't watch the show. But I think the goal of the show is to help people (Americans) understand that just because some extremist destroyed the World Trade Center and bombed the Pentagon, does not mean that every person of Muslim faith is violent. Believe it or not there are people who are Muslim who are born in this country. I am Catholic and see nothing wrong with Islam. Islam is such a beautiful religion when you really get down to it-when you really start to learn about it. Diversity makes the world go round, hate only stunts the world's growth. Obviously, these "Christians" have no clue on what it is to be Christian.

      December 13, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
    • PhillyRN

      Jen, it's clear you know nothing about real Islam, have not read the Koran, and have no idea what it says. No offense. Try to do some thinking on your own, and not just what the liberal narrative prescribes. Read the Koran. There are copies online.

      Follow coverage of Islamic violence, or violence committed in the name of Islam and the dictates of the Koran. Start with thereligionofpeace.com and let us know what you think.

      Christians getting killed in one country by Muslims might only be secular violence. But Christians getting killed in SEVERAL countries simultaneously is a campaign against religious minorities.

      Be against bigotry, but make sure you know who is spilling blood.

      December 13, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
    • life5678

      PhillyRN – I've read the Koran MANY times over. But you obviously have not. The basic philocophy of Islam is that once it takes over the world there will be peace bc everyone belives the same. No freedom there.

      December 13, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
  15. Aditya Adhikari

    How about the Judicial Clerk in this show: Keeping with Arab Tradition she does not drive to work, her father drops her off... That is real progress.....

    Wake up USA or there will soon be a demand for Free Muslim Nation in Deerborn.

    December 13, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
  16. Buford T. Justice

    What we got here is a case of folks not understanding what the ragheads is all about! Look at this headline from today's paper.
    "Saudi woman beheaded for 'witchcraft and sorcery'"... This happens ALL the time over there in them Islamic countries. America, Americans, will NOT tolerate this kind of behavior in this country, nor will we EVER accept a group of folks living here who accept or condone this in any way. They will conform to our standards and morals or they will be driven out to live in their lovely sharia 5th century existence.

    December 13, 2011 at 1:01 pm |
    • Susn

      Where does it say these people agree with whatever happens in Muslim countries? Why don't you watch the show and find out who they are and what they actually think.

      December 13, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
    • PhillyRN

      Susn, that's just it - you never see those issues addressed. It's a big elephant in the room as people practically shriek "Look how normal we are! We shop for food! We dance! We are working!"

      December 13, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
    • PhillyRN

      Susn, that's just it - you never see those issues addressed. It's a big elephant in the room as people practically shriek "Look how normal we are! We shop for food! We dance! We are working!"

      What religion is conducting a campaign to kill Christians in more than one country simultaneously? That's not just war. That's not just civil strife. That is an organized international campaign against religious minorities in the name of Islam.

      We have to be honest about Islam by facing the reality of what is committed now in its name. That is what Islam is, not what TV says it is.

      December 13, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
  17. Will

    I see no difference between any right wing fanatics, either being Christian, Jewish, Muslim or whomever. I will no longer shop at Lowes, Home Depot has my business now.

    December 13, 2011 at 1:01 pm |
    • QS

      There are no divisions among the conservative party – they all believe conservatism is the only way and they will go to any lengths to try to impose their dogma upon others.

      December 13, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
    • Jimbo

      BS, not all conservatives are religious.

      December 13, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
    • PhillyRN

      Then you have not been reading the newspapers. One spills blood.

      December 13, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
  18. life5678

    The Difference between Christianity and ISLAM: The Christian NEW TESTAMENT tells us to love thy neighbor, The Koran tells us to give non-believers 2 chances to convert to Islam, if not KILL them! any religion can be used for wrong doing, but the Koran makes lying, cheating, pedophilia and killing OK if it's commited against a non-believer.

    December 13, 2011 at 1:01 pm |
    • QS

      OF COURSE! It's so simple....Muslims simply need to throw out all the stuff from their religion that they don't like – like Christians did when they wrote the new testament – and replace it with a new testament of their own!

      Christians are some of the most simplistic thinking people around – no wonder complexity eludes them.

      December 13, 2011 at 1:04 pm |
    • life5678

      Like your simplistic, childish response? get a life pea brain

      December 13, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
    • PhillyRN

      Are you kidding? This forced conversion or kill is going on right now in NIgeria, in Kenya, in the Sudan. People don't seem to want to say that the genocide of Sudan was by the Muslim north against the Christian and animist peoples of the south. That point gets glossed over so we don't seem like we are criticizing a religion.

      But this "religion" is being used to commit violence now all over the world. How many religious minorities have to die in the name of Islam before the West finally believes it?

      December 13, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
  19. Mort

    This is a stupid premise for a show. What next, All-American Catholic...All American Hindu....All American Buddhist.....All American Jew......All American Mormon. I guess it could be quite a long running show if they profile all religions. If the network isn't considering doing this, couldn't they be called bigots against all other forms of religion?

    December 13, 2011 at 1:01 pm |
    • life5678

      Don't forget all American Neo Nazi, all American Communists, all American Socialist etc....

      December 13, 2011 at 1:03 pm |
    • QS

      Stupid premise for a show – any reality show, sing-off, dance-off or other ridiculous idea for a show that promotes narcissism, ego and blatant selfishness.

      December 13, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
  20. Allison

    Real people this county was founded on religious percustion..That why people fled their only countries..These christian people need to take a good look at themselves before judging or have you forgotten this is the land of freedom..If you don't like the show don't watch it. Also who gave you guys the right to tell Lowe's who thier customers are, please I think people need to judge people by who they are and not what religion they are. Christian need to partices "Love thy neighbor" or get off the Cross because Jesus need it back...

    December 13, 2011 at 1:01 pm |
    • life5678

      You should talk! Lowe's is a privately owned company, who are you to tell them howe to run their business? Why should they support a religion that conflicts with their values? Hypocrit!

      December 13, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
    • PhillyRN

      How many religious minorities have to be killed today in the name of Islam before people realize that it's not Christians who are the ones out there murdering in the name of religion? http://www.thereligionofpeace.com - check it out.

      December 13, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37
Advertisement
About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.