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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. MikeyMikeMichaelandyouknowwhyitsmyname

    I am a follower of Christ. because of what HE did and not what I have done, I am already an eternal being, this reality is just the first part of my journey. We whom have accepted Christ have already won the spiritual warfare that is ongoing and has been continuing since the beginning of time. Which side are you on....that is all that is being sorted out as we go about our daily lives. I wish you all Peace on Earth and Joy to the World !! AS OPPOSED TO THIS: http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/

    December 13, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
    • James

      then try living as He did.....

      December 13, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
    • MikeyMikeMichaelandyouknowwhyitsmyname

      I try....attraction is much better than persuation. This is very attractive is it not? http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/

      December 13, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
  2. Mark Bowman

    Sweet, I don't know why the show is even on who cares about a group of people who want to kill everyone ?

    December 13, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
    • Tea Clown

      The Tea Party?

      December 13, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
    • Mark Bowman

      WTH is "the tea party"?

      December 13, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
    • Sheep

      So christians don't kill? how about poor innocent orphan kids in Iraq? or how about molesting boys by some christians Priests?

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

      I'd say america could look to their general public if they want to talk about groups of people who want to kill people. There's plenty of guns floating around that non-muslim americans use to kill people every day.

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

      idiot

      December 13, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
  3. Chris

    While I don't disapprove of the show, I understand marketing, consumerism and Lowe's sales position. However, in NO way do I consider Muhammad Ali a hero. He is a draft dodger and at heart, a coward. Poor example

    December 13, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
    • Tea Clown

      But you love draft dodgers like "W" and Cheney.

      December 13, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Actually, only idiots and Red Necks permitted themselves to be drafted.

      Would you actually send on of your kids to fight in some third world hell hole?

      Isn't that why we let Tennesee into the Union?

      December 13, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
    • Sheep

      I respect you Tea Clown, yes they are all Kool Aid and drank Bush's Kool Aid

      December 13, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
    • Chris

      Learn some history tea clown. W served and Cheney was too old. Ali simply didn't serve because he was scared and a racist, not serving in "a white man's war".

      December 13, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
    • Chris

      And yes my kids ARE serving now and I am proud of it!

      December 13, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Serving?

      No wonder you hate towel heads. Your kids invade their contry, and you wonder why they shoot back?

      December 13, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
  4. Caysen

    Haha, a Christian organization trying to pin another religion as crazy and dangerous. How about all your religions are nuts? I don't see anyone on the atheist side of the fence killing people

    December 13, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
  5. Fedup w Dopes

    The problem here is that an extremist, intolerant religious organization is forcing their version of "free speech" via blackmail on an American owned business. The Florida Family Organization regularly sticks their head of the hole they live in to castigate gays, abortion rights and religions that are not their cup of tea. What makes them any different than the extremist Muslim organizations they are attempting to tie in to this television show? If they had their way, the USA would be a Christian version of Iran.

    December 13, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
  6. sgy

    Hopefully they've pulled advertising from shows like Toddlers in Tiaras and Teen Moms as well? I find those way more damaging and offensive than showing the peaceful side of an often misunderstood religion. Maybe they have? I don't watch reality TV – as I find most of it to be a big waste of time.

    December 13, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
  7. whynot

    I believe Lowe's is within their rights, and I agree 100% with them! That is not bigotry, is freedom to express their belief.
    I personally have stopped shopping at Home Depot, because of their sponsoring of g a y pride parades.

    December 13, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
  8. Kittyg

    A desire for self-protection is NOT bigotry!

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

      Yeah its just cowardice lol

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

      But as.suming that there are a billion people on this earth that want to do you harm because you think differently then them is both paranoid and delusional. Medication may help.

      December 13, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
    • Raevyn

      It is when you decide all people of a particular religion think, act, and believe the same. Not all christians are the same....neither are all Muslims. Yes...it's racist. And so are you, judging from your comment.

      December 13, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
  9. SeanNJ

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

    Who cares. Probably not, but this is the same argument that christians use when they feel like they're being "oppressed." You're all just background noise. I wish it would go away.

    December 13, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
    • William Demuth

      I hate all faiths equally.

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

      @William: Precisely.

      December 13, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
  10. David Stone

    Muslims are a problem everywhere that their sick excuse for a religion takes hold. The "good ones" sit by silent and inactive, offering tacit support, as the worst among them do the worst of things to those they don't agree with, to women, to gays, to people in other faiths. Islam is the ONLY faith with global terror organizations operating under the banner of their "religion". Please name a global Christian terror group well funded with millions of dollars and hate preaching schools like the madrasas in Saudi Arabi. Can you? What Christian terror organization should Americans fear most? Which one? Do you see my point? Islam is the enemy of freedom and tolerance and equality and runs counter to these concepts. More islam = a less evolved society, PERIOD.

    December 13, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
    • Ranger14

      Timothy McVeigh was a Christian.

      December 13, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
    • William Demuth

      As was Adolph Hitler, Charles Manson and the Pope.

      All deviants.

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

      That is easily the most ignorant thing i have read in a very long time. The catholics that have bombed abortion clinics, preists moleting children and the WBC are a few examples of your radical christians you were looking for. Have you ever really spent time outside of the country? or done anything other than worship at the alter of what the internet tells you to be true? i've spent a considerable amount of time in the middle east and i hate to burst your bubble, but most of the people of the muslim faith are way better people than a bigot like you could ever hope to be. Maybe it could do you and everyone around some good if you came out from underneath the rock you have set up residence in and actully learn something instead of just spouting off at the mouth. you sir have just epitomized the ignorant american sterotype and show everyone who reads your words exactly how much of a childish ignorant bigot you are. i hope for the sake of the world you never have children and if you do i hope they end out nothing like you.

      December 13, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
    • Sheep

      Oh did you forget Bosnia. You Idioit not educated mornon. How about christian moms killing thier own kids to party or your christian priests molesting your own kids! moron!

      December 13, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
    • PhillyRN

      Yeah, all the "Christian" but not quite terrorists you name are all dead. There were Islamic killings all over the world just this week. Christians in Kenya and Nigeria were killed by Muslims. Muslims in Af/Pack were killed by Muslims for not being extreme enough.

      This is going on NOW. It's not history. It's not a lone wolf. It's open season on religious minorities in Muslim nations. What are you going to do about it? Call Islam great and say ooo Lowes is mean? Doesn't that seem like how Germany went wrong after WWI? Capitulation and appeasement don't work.

      Tolerance of intolerance is intolerance. Intolerance cancels out the good effect of your well wishes to Islam. Somewhere in the world today, someone will die in the name of Islam. That never got on the show for some reason.

      December 13, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Philly

      You are silly.

      We invaded two Muslim countries and destabilized five others.

      If it was one point for each corpse, the Christians would be several hundred thousand points ahead.

      December 13, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
  11. Jesus

    I've made a huge mistake. Religion is dumb.

    December 13, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
    • David Stone

      Yes, religion is STUPID and holds people back, and ISLAM is the WORST of all religions by light years. A true barbaric caveman religion where women are property, and those with different beliefs are to be slaughtered. That IS the core of REAL islam. The "nice" muslims will sit by silently as they always have, as the worst among them do the most awful things, thereby offering tacit support. This is what makes islam the cancer that it is.

      December 13, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
    • HellBent

      "A true barbaric caveman religion where women are property, and those with different beliefs are to be slaughtered"

      Right, because throughout Christian history those have never been xtian values. *facepalm*

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

      Yeah, Allah is pretty upset too. He told me last week when we met for pizza (supernatural pizza is dope btw).

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

      i think david forgot about the crusades....

      December 13, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
    • PhillyRN

      No Jesus. You told us to love one another as I have loved you. But you also didn't say stand around and do or say nothing while people get killed in the name of Islam and pretend all Muslims are super.

      December 13, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
  12. Jimbo Jim

    I really wish America could be void of Muslims. They cause so many problems.

    December 13, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
    • William Demuth

      And Red Neck Christians are a blessing?

      Let me guess, you're inbred?

      December 13, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
    • David Stone

      All religions SUCK, islam just sucks ten times as much as the others, and exemplifies why religion is a drag on human kind.

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

      I notice you have to qualify Christians with the term "red neck" (very tolerant of you, by the way). Muslims need no such qualifier. There are Muslims, and then there are "peaceful Muslims". Like redneck Christians, they are in the minority.

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

      NooYawkah

      Tolerance? I would gas the lot of them given the chance.

      Christians kill Jews, Jews kill Muslims and Muslims kill everybody.

      It works for me, I just wish they would pick up the pace so we could be done with the cult of Abraham once and for all.

      December 13, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
  13. George Tsai

    Lowe's has every right to pull advertising – it's their company. That being said, I hope people realize how bigoted of a decision it is. It's sad to see that we still live in a world like this.

    December 13, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
    • Tea Clown

      If Lowes makes a pattern of discrimination the Civil Rights Act could come into play and they could potentially lose hundreds of government contracts and sub-contractors.

      December 13, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
    • George Tsai

      The Civil Rights Act would not protect here, I believe. However, you're right in that if they have a pattern of this discriminatory behavior, a lot of people will be angered. Here's to hoping it's a one-off thing. They're either going to anger the Christian Right or all the Muslims in America. Lose-lose for Lowe's.

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

      NO one is saying to hate Muslims or deprive them of their rights. People protested the show because it avoided the news, it refused to deal with the headlines. Even as people are getting killed in the name of Islam all over the world in Muslim nations, this was never brought up.

      It's like doing a show about some German families in WWII but never mentioning Nazism. How can you avoid it? How can you avoid Muslim terrorism when it happens almost everyday somewhere in the world?

      Christians were killed in Nigeria and Kenya just this week. A senior woman was beheaded in Saudi Arabia for "sorcery." Doesn't that scare you? Our main ally in the Arab world hunts down and beheads witches?

      And moderate Muslims were killed in Af/Pak. Sufis live with a bull's eye on their back.

      Read the paper, watch the news, and let yourselves finally put it together - the kind of Islam practiced in the Islamic world is not a real religion, it is a violent political legal system of fundamental beliefs that abhors change and growth. It is incompatible with democracy or secular government. This is not my opinion. This is the stated view of Muslim clerics and Islamic political figures all over the Muslim world. Try reading about it MEMRI.org and find the proof that I'm wrong. I'm listening.

      December 13, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
  14. Mark Bowman

    I will now be shopping lowes it will be my first choice for building supplies

    December 13, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Great! One less Hill Billy at the Home Depot!

      December 13, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
    • Tea Clown

      Woot!! Rubberized roofing for your single-wide.

      December 13, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
    • Mary

      And now I will stop shopping at Lowes for the very same reason.

      December 13, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
  15. Krreagan

    This is amazing, this is not about Muslims or Christians. It's about who we are as Americans. I guess some ignorant individuals will always need to feel superior to others, so they pick a minority (or anyone who is different) and focus their hate on them in an attempt to convince themselves that they are "better". All it really does is show the world how truly barbaric religions and their followers are.

    This does not bode well for the human race.

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

      It bodes well for those us who are not muslim dirt worshiping heathens like yourself.

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

      DT... So you know everything about me... Just like a Christian...

      December 13, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
  16. dave

    I'm white when do we get our turn to cry about every little stupid commercial or comment?

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

      Oh, stop your crying. lol.

      December 13, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
    • William Demuth

      When you learn how to spell your name.

      December 13, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
    • Dan

      when you have something to actually cry about

      December 13, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
  17. RW

    In this country Muslims have been under attack since 9/11. Christens have been under attack for a lot longer, in this country. Where have you been in defiance of there rights. Sounds like you might be a bigot too.

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

      You're kidding right? or is it just blind ignorance?

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

      Christians have been under attack?? Really? Your way of thinking scares me. You perceive the first amendment as giving you the right to impose your religion on others. I suppose you want to make prayer mandatory in schools? Which prayer should be used? Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, other? You live in a pluralistic society; if you don't like it then leave.

      December 13, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Christians have the blood of MILLIONS on their hands, and their preachers have the secretions of altar boys staining their vestments.

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

      Christians were killed in Nigeria and Kenya just this week. The news seems to downplay this to try to avoid going into another Muslim war. But it is true - check it at http://www.thereligionofpeace.com and see for yourselves.

      That doesn't cancel out that moderate Muslims are victimized by extreme Muslims. Sufis were killed in Pakistan, and innocent Muslim women and children were killed in Afghanistan.

      This is just THIS WEEK. This is just the tally for THIS WEEK. There have been 18,000 murders committed in the name of Islam since 9/11.

      There is no Christian equivalent to this today, or any other religion, for that matter.

      December 13, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
  18. Choconet

    I'm not boycotting yet another American company for any reason! If you boycotted every company because every organization wanted you to, you wouldn’t have anywhere to get your supplies. Also, how would you keep track of who you’re boycotting? Carry a boycott card! You'd end up driving all over town burning gas because you are boycotting dang near every company in your neighborhood! In this bad economy you'd just be running yet another American company into the ground and adding innocent people to the unemployment lines. If the pen is so much mightier than the sword then write a letter, grow some thick skin and shut up!!! Lord I know you said offense will come, but this is ridiculous!!!

    December 13, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
  19. richard p

    I'll probably shop more a Lowe's both to support there decision
    and to counter backlash for there decision.
    They have a right to pay or not pay for advertising and they
    don't even owe me an explanation.

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

      how can anyone read this with a straight face lol? OMG no more lowes commercial, time to go suicide... oh wait that's not politically correct either, wait.. what CAN we do or say anymore that doesn't offend someone?

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

      Racist.

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

      It's THEIR, not "there", Einstein. When you can't spell, your opinion has no teeth.

      December 13, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
  20. Sarah

    If it ain't Judeo-Christian, it ain't right.

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

      Your intolerance is amazing. You actually believe that your interpretation of Christianity is the one "true" faith. What special tools do have you to prove this? Faith cannot be proven, so keep it to yourself.

      December 13, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Sarah is a cult member

      December 13, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
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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.