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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. Cuervo Jones

    and the guy is a cop? wow those right wing know it alls usually are boot lickin these guys

    December 13, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
  2. Jason

    Arsalan Iftikhar, first of all, this is The United States of America. Christian people sometimes pick a topic that they have concerns about and try to influence an outcome. The United States was founded by Christians and are laws are written based on Christian values. Do the majority of Christians want a stronger Muslim influence in the US? Absolutely not. We also don't want a new Islamic site blocks from the 9/11 site in NY. Let me pose a simple question. Name 1 Islamic country that it's people enjoy the freedoms that the people of the US have. I am certain the answer is none. I can't stop muslims from migrating to the US to enjoy a better life, but I think it is in our right of self preservation to try to deminish the influence of Islam in American scociety. I don't hate muslims and my email is not hateful. However I do believe that the spread of Islam in the US is not in the best interest of the country or it's citizens.

    December 13, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
    • Easy E

      Jason, first off, most of the Founde Fathers were Deists, not conventional Christians. Secondly, the last thing they wanted was to create the kind of theocracy that you seem to think would be great -they came here to escape that kind of thing!

      December 13, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Let me guess? A preacher filled your head with this?

      The State will be seperate from religion, PERIOD.

      What part don't you get?

      December 13, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
    • Terri

      The US was invaded by christians who wiped out (brutally) the native people. Christians did the same in every nation they invaded. Get off your high horse. Muslims will not "destroy the US", hate will.

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

      Sorry our country's government is not based on Christian values. It's based on moral values of right and wrong, which Christians haven't cornered the market on. I see comments like yours, and religious people fighting amongst themselves, and wonder – if your religious values are so right, why don't you follow them?

      December 13, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
  3. Thomas

    First off, since when is Dave Chappelle one America’s foremost heroes and celebrities? You're trying too hard for sympathy.

    It sounds like people are just looking for a reason to complain here, because this isn't an issue. Does Lowe's or any home improvement company for that matter benefit that much from advertising during crappy reality TV shows on cable TV? Are we really bickering about what is likely one commercial once a week? If Lowe's didn't advertise during the Jersey Shore would we say that Lowe's hated womanizers and Italians? Or would it be more likely that the audience of that show isn't their target market? Or the audience isn't large enough to pay for the high cost of advertising? Get over yourself. The reasoning behind pulling the ads probably has a whole lot more to do with the fact that there's no real benefit to advertising during this time slot. As a society we're always quick to point the blame at race, or people who hate, but that is rarely the real issue. When a corporation like this makes a business decision such as when and where to advertise, money is always the driving force behind the decision, always. Is money a better driving force? No. But it's much more powerful than discrimination will ever be.

    December 13, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
  4. SML

    What a bunch of idiots!! Most of the oil products and gas you comsume daily is from Muslin countries. The 911 terrorist were
    mostly from Saudi Arabia our #1 allie in the Missde East. There are radicals in all walks of life and RELIGIONS not just Muslins
    I do not shop at Lowes simply because Home Depot is much better besides the Executives at Lowes has no BALLS.

    December 13, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
    • MikeyMikeMichaelandyouknowwhyitsmyname

      The romans funded their destruction as well by becoming to reliant upon the energy sources found in northern europe(wood). We are making the same mistake by funding our enemies. Our pursuit of comfort in the short term is supporting the islamists long term goal of subjugation of the "infidel". Drill Here, Drill Now, and keep the refined product in our country dammit(we exported about 500,000 barrels last month). http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/ Get a Clue

      December 13, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
  5. Hot Carl

    I can't wait for the day the big holy war Jihad starts. All you liberal whiny cry babies will be scrambling for places to hide while the rest of us are armed and ready. Nobody's gonna cut my head off with a dull knife without a fight!

    December 13, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
    • matt

      Just don't let them get your tin foil hat! If they do, it's all over!

      December 13, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
    • Easy E

      This gun toting liberal is sick of the both the Muslim and Tea Party crazies. I am tired of the hate and insanity.

      December 13, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Hey Easy.

      You do know your ancestor were Muslim right?

      Before the slave masters dragged them here, ALL Northern Africans were Muslim.

      You are on the wrong team.

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

      When it happens, there's going to be more than muslims gunning for you.

      December 13, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
  6. Tea Clown

    my god is bigger than your god – nya, nya, nanna, nya

    December 13, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
  7. Chris

    I am an Orthodox Catholic and member of the military, living in Florida in a country founded by humansists and deists (Jefferson, Franklin), who created a government intended to protect those who had fled their coutry of origin due to religeus persecution (Pilgrims) from the tyranny of the majority. I also was an avid Lowes customer. I cannot tolerate extremism, and do not agree with the reason Lowes pulled it's adds. There is absolutely no difference between the muslim who blew up the trade center (which contained 3 mosques) and the Christian who blew up the Okahoma Federal Building (and it's Day Care center). There is no room for either in America or those who support thier views. I will vote with my pocket book and no longer shop at lowes. This is a great day for Home Depot.

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

      +1

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

      +2

      December 13, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
  8. Peter

    Oh, those cursed Christians. Always doing the right thing. They shouldn't have any rights in America. Almost all of them are capitalists, too. Curse them. Curse them.

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

      @Peter

      Are you saying the right thing here was writing letters to promote bigotry against other people because of fringe groups?....

      I'll give you a chance to rethink your post and try again.

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

      LOL, go to any prison and ask how many are Christian and accept Jesus as their lord and savior, it'll be more than a few. I don't think your statement about "Christians always doing the right thing" holds any water.

      December 13, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
  9. Rogue

    I agree with those who say you cannot force Lowe's to place their ad or remove it. It does not matter what the topic is, if the paying people of Lowe's says pull it or lose it, what do you think they are going to do.
    We also have the right not to watch the show, its simple, change the channel. No need to whine about it...

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

      What if only 1% of Lowes customers said "pull it"? That might still be 100,000 letters or more. It would sound like a in terms of sheer numbers, but overall it's a distorted viewpoint. In reality the vast majority of Lowes customers probably don't care one bit that Lowes was advertising on that show. And to counter your point, what if the backlash from their (cowardly) actions causes them to lose more customers than if they would have just ignored the Christian zealots?

      December 13, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
  10. dreww

    Fascinating how many Muslims have flocked to the United States in order to partake of the benefits that are a result of a nation founded upon Christianity.

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

      Funny ... here I thought that our nation and consti.tution specifically valued religious freedom. And that many of our founding fathers explicitly stated that the nation was not founded on xtian values. And that we have an official treat explicitly stating the same. Huh.

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

      @hell. Perhaps you should do some more thinking. And research.

      December 13, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
    • RawHoney

      dreww – actually the colonies were settled by people FLEEING religious intolerance. American was founded on the principles of FREEDOM (one of which is Religion), by people who at the time were nearly all Christian. You must have FAILED American history & pass as another christian nut job. Our laws will prevail, not their shirah or even your 'god's

      December 13, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
    • MikeyMikeMichaelandyouknowwhyitsmyname

      @hellbent islam is not a religion it is a political system. our country was not founded on christianity although their is similarities as to our inalienable rights. 1.) Respect for your fellow human beings dignity to live their life as they see fit. 2.) Respect for your fellow hunam being right to personal privacy. Neither of which exist in the islamic political system...although they are instructed to use our freedoms against us, in order to annihilate us and our freedoms. http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/ get Educated as to our adversaries

      December 13, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
  11. Dogamus

    I would suspect that Lowes pulled its ads for economic reasons. They most likely determined that there were other more lucrative investments. This is the first time I have heard of this show. But then I'm not a big TV fan.

    December 13, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
  12. Rome

    Unless you are a hot looking Muslim chick like Jasmine from the Disney movie Aladin, then you are likely a terrorist

    December 13, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
    • Easy E

      Whoa, you know you need help when you think of a cartoon as hot.

      December 13, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
  13. DaveNYUSA

    Arsalan Iftikhar can get phuqed! Companies have the right to advertise, OR NOT, with whomever they choose.

    December 13, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
    • Easy E

      They may have that right, but it deosn't mean they cannot be criticised for such a cowardly move. Religious fanatics of all stripes suck no matter what nasty flavor they comei n.

      December 13, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
  14. Tony

    Home depot from now on.

    December 13, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
    • Easy E

      Home Depot is the more serious hardware and lumber store anyway.

      December 13, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
  15. Tony

    I will be shopping at home depot from now on.

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

      And Lowe's will be the better for it.

      December 13, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
  16. Steve

    Mr. Iftikhar. if CAIR had complained about Lowe's showing ads on a show that potrrayed us evil Christians in a good light (not one you'll see on any network any time soon), and Lowe's had pulled the ads based on that, would you be screaming as loudly? More than likely, you would just hear crickets (or the deafening silence).

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

      you are assuming these folks are evil?

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

      James: no, I was merely pointing out how Christians are generally portrayed in the media. My point is that if the roles were reversed, Mr. Iftikhar wouldn't be saying a word. As Buckwheat19 points, out, Muslims are the only group that repeatedly says they want to kill me because of my religion., so you tell me what is evil.

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

      There are shows that postively protray Christians all the time. Hellooooo McFlyyyyy!

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

      "Muslims" do not want to kill you because of your religion. First of all, it's TERRORISTS, that want to kill you. (al quada). Yes, al quada happens to be Muslim but 99.9% of Muslims (yes, that is the correct number) are not terrorists. Also, they do not care what your religion is. There were non-western and Muslim citizens killed at the WTC. They want to kill you because of Western intrusion in Middle Eastern affairs and because of your comparatively progressive values. Turkey, for example, is a NATO ally which is a mostly Muslim nation with a secular government. Muslims are our ally? WOW, YES! And there are thousands of Muslims serving honorably in the United States military. The KKK and the more recent Hutaree are hate groups that advocated and/or practiced violence and they are CHRISTIAN based in their beliefs. That does not mean that all Christians are terrorists. And no, it’s not “different.”

      December 13, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • MikeyMikeMichaelandyouknowwhyitsmyname

      @useyorbrain Your percentages are lies. Your mindset is similar to the germans who thought that they were just loading the Jewish community into box cars so they could ge "washed up" easier. take a looka round and USE YOUR BRAIN http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/

      December 13, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
  17. arj

    it appears our nation is no different than the rest. We used to be the leader in embracing other cultures; now we have lowered ourselves,,,so sad

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

      Amen. Hole in one.

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

      Examine this and tell me if this is the culture you would like to assimillate into our "melting pot". A good example of an islamists idea of a melting pot in society can be found at Aushwitz...a crematory furnace. LOOK HERE: http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/

      December 13, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
    • HellBent

      "A good example of an islamists idea of a melting pot in society can be found at Aushwitz"

      To get an idea of a muslim melting pot we should look to the torture and murder perpetrated by a predominantly xtian nation? Logic Fail.

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

      Nope....Not a Logic Fail...consider that a religion based upon beliveing that their way is the only way, and that at any time whatever they are doing is gods will at that point in time, and here is the best part....that God needs their help to do ANYTHING...is the root. if you do not see the similarities between how the Jews, Christians or other infidels are prtrayed in isalmic nations and culture and how the germans portrayed the Jews, Gypsies, and other non-aryans then you are either intellectually dishonest or a propagandist yourself. Could it be any simpler: IRAN translated ARYAN also look here if you dare http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/

      December 13, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
  18. Buckwheat19

    The author is way off base here. I, as a Christian, have nothing against Muslims or any of the other groups mentioned. But then again I have not heard Latinos, Jewish, or any other group repeatedly say they want to kill me because of my religion. Instead of writing about how racist and anti-Muslim Lowes and others in this country are perhaps the author needs to campaign against the violence within his own chosen religion. Of couse that would no play nearly as well in the media.

    December 13, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
  19. IntlSeensta

    This is ALL about religion and in this case I mean the worship of money in this country. One group wants to try to silence the voice of another group so all they need to do is wave a dollar bill and Lowe's comes crawling like a dancer at a cheap strip club. After reading this, my family is going to exercise our rights as Americans and boycott Lowe's for helping to promote ignorance and intolerance in this country.

    December 13, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
  20. Sarah

    Once you allow Muslims to do commercials, next thing you know they'll be running Hollywood.

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

      haha

      December 13, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
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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.