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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. Curb Muslims Now

    The sheer number of horrible and disgusting things done in the name of Islam are overwhelming.
    Islam must be followed only by secular Muslims. Anything else is a call for justice or even war on the behalf of the victims of "devout" Muslims all over the world.
    These crimes against humanity can not be tolerated by humanity. Either Islam must be curbed by Muslims or more violence will be the only answer!

    December 13, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
    • HellBent

      "The sheer number of horrible and disgusting things done in the name of Islam are overwhelming."

      So are the sheer number of horrible and disgusting things done in the name of xtianity. Why only single one religion out?

      December 13, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
    • Alex

      Christianity has been just as bad historically. Hell the current pope is the former head of the papal inquisition. The problem is ignorance when people are ignorant then religion of any kind can be used to control them. When Christians are ignorant the do the exact same things as Muslims do when ignorant. All that being said you should probable know what your talking about have you read the whole bible, the whole of the quran I doubt it. I have and I can tell you that neither are a book of peace.

      December 13, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
    • bobbyfrank

      I guess you are not acquainted with the term CONVERT OR DIE...
      You really should learn your religious history.

      December 13, 2011 at 2:12 pm |
    • Curb Muslims Now

      Hellbent – It's called "staying on topic". Try it sometime.
      If this were a thread about "xtians" I would have mentioned their disgusting crap.
      As it is, I saw no need. Muslims are job 1. Christians are job 2.
      One thing at a time is all most people can handle. Keep it simple stupid.

      December 13, 2011 at 3:25 pm |
  2. So Jersey Girl

    This is how Islam starts. The muslims are using our laws against us and trying to subvert us. If Islam is so great, why don't they go back to the Middle East and live there with their brethern? No, because they (Islamic government) kill their own if they disagree, as in Syria and Libya; No, because they (Islamic jihadists) are crazy suicide bpmbers who want American blood to run in rivers because it is their mandate to kill the 'infidels.' I will NEVER tolerate Islam in my country – the U.S.A. I am proudly a born and bred American. God Bless the U.S.A.

    December 13, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
    • Terri

      Will you kick out everyone who holds to different beliefs than you or just Muslims? Atheism is the fastest growing sector in the nation. Isn't FREEDOM of religion and FREEDOM of persecution for beliefs what the nation was founded on? But for you it's only those who agree with you? Whatever.

      December 13, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
    • Native American circa 1500's

      "This is how Christianity starts. Cortes is using our laws against us and trying to subvert us. If Christianity is so great, why don't they go back to Spain and live there with their brethern? No, because they (Spanish government) kill their own if they disagree, as in France and England; No, because they (Spanish Conquistadors) are crazy suicide swordsman who want Native American blood to run in rivers because it is their mandate to kill the 'heretics.' I will NEVER tolerate Christianity in my country – the land far west of Europe across the sea, I am proudly a born and bred Native American. Quezacotl Bless this land!"

      December 13, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
    • Dogamus

      Terri, how do you know Lowes pulled the ad because of hatred ?? (second attempt at an answer)

      December 13, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
  3. leeretarmy

    The point being missed is Lowe's is a private company and as such can pick and choose whoever they want to advertise with. I think people are going a little overboard with this. Lowe's is a business and they are out to make money (thats what businesses do) they may look at this as a bad investment. How many people that will be watching that show will be wanting to pay attention to a home improvement DIY commercial maybe they thought the demographics were wrong so viewed this as a way to cut costs.

    December 13, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
    • Dogamus

      You're absolutely right of course. Business decisions made by a company of this size would hardly be based on anything but $$$.

      December 13, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
    • Terri

      Absolutely, and they had chosen to support the show then pulled support due to hatred. That is a pretty big deal.

      December 13, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
    • Dogamus

      It's also interesting how this article, no matter how ill-informed, has managed to bring out so much polarised hatred. Certainly not according to the teachings of Jesus. Hossein, maybe.

      December 13, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
    • Dogamus

      Terri How do you know they pulled it due to hatred ??

      December 13, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
  4. idontthinkso

    Lowes is allowed to advertise when and how they choose. I applaud them for pulling ads friom this type of garbage on television. Why would we as americans give this type of trash a minute on public american television? Has everyone forgotten 9/11? I haven't........and you shouldn't either. Pack them up and send them home.,.....

    December 13, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Pack YOU up.

      You shame this country with your red neck indoctrination.

      December 13, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
    • Fed Tischer

      You are the reason why America can't have nice things. You are an outright moron. Yes I'm a Christian and yes you will go to hell.

      December 13, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
  5. Proud51

    The antichrist is a muslim who will kill ALL christians that do not accept his mark (of the beast) 666.

    December 13, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
    • William Demuth

      –Then he has my vote!

      But I thought the Number of the Beast was 9-9-9?

      December 13, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
    • Cjay811

      We Christians are a sad lot. Bigotry, hatred, and prejudice, have taken over our thoughts, our minds, our doctrines, and our hearts. Let's return to the Christianity of Christ - and His love for everyone, regardless of religion or belief. To do otherwise is just wrong.

      December 13, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
  6. Gail D

    you'll NOTICE this was written by a muslim. Nothing like impartial reporting..... and this is nothing like it.

    December 13, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
    • Lisa

      Nothing like an illiterate who doesn't realize this piece is on the OPINION page of cnn...

      December 13, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
    • Terri

      So they aren't allowed an opinion either...only yours matters, right?

      December 13, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
  7. UseYourBrain

    Do "muslims" want to kill you? 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 1:41 pm |
  8. Eltrip

    No one ever lost money by over-estimating the potential bigotry in the United States.

    December 13, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
  9. alwaysgreg

    All-American Muslims is premature. The fact that the producers can find a few upstanding members of society does not mean that the threat from this aggressive religion is past. Many, many Nazi party members were no-billed by investigators after WWII but how would they have functioned in a Hitler-run society if the Nazis had won. Our Friends the Saudis just cut the head off of a woman for witchcraft. They do it all the time. No, our All-American Muslims are not integrated into the American society. They will 'play ball' when the time is right and their all-invasive religion calls them into action, in my opinion

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

    Christians are hypocrites and are making us all pay for their own beliefs and limitations. I have no problem with personal beliefs, so long as they do not affect everyone else... And the Christians are forcing their beliefs on everyone else just because they think they are absolutely right and everyone else is damned to hell for not agreeing with them. Hypocrites, hypocrites.. I mean really, why can't we have a show about American Muslims? We have shows about Christian people who have a ton of children, and that isn't teaching everyone the wrong way to live? Condoms, people. They work wonders.. that is, if your religion isn't against it.

    December 13, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
  11. drew

    Wow there are some hateful people on here. Its a TV show, about people, about fellow American citizens. If you don't like it, don't watch it (like I don't watch Toddlers and Tiaras or Jersey Shore because I disagree with the message). Otherwise, this nation would not exist without religious freedom. Additionally....as a Catholic, I know that there are times in the history of the Church where it was Christians doing the killing in the name of God. So all you "holier than thous" out there....don't cast stones.

    December 13, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
    • Ravyn

      Agreed.

      December 13, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
    • Terri

      Thank you, the country is supposed to be free, right?

      December 13, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
    • Fred

      If you don't like it, change the channel. That's our right. The same way Loews can choose not to run ads on the TV show and the same way everyone can choose not to shop at Loews if it bothers them that much.

      December 13, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
  12. Terri

    I am really sorry to hear that Lowe's reacted this way on this issue. Allowing bigoted hate to influence business is disgusting. Lowe's just lost a loyal customer.

    December 13, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
    • Ravyn

      Well-put.

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

      I am and will be a loyal customer of Lowes.

      December 13, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
    • ORLY?

      And Lowe's has lost my business.

      P.S. Frank: If Lowe's was a French or Turkish company that pulled ads from a Christian show, how would you react? Please be specific.

      December 13, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
  13. Dogamus

    Sorry muhammed, not that it matters, Islam is nowhere near the worlds lagest religion. Christianity is with over 2 billion followers. Now, I grant you that Islam has the largest xeno/female phobia, but not the largest following.

    December 13, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
  14. Atif

    This program should not be aired at first place as it does not represent in any shape or form "All American Muslims" , I am muslim and do not like to be represented with group of people participating in this program other then 2-3 individuals. I do understand that forces around us are trying to pose muslims as not normal human beings by raising all kind of fear and these programs may give them some education but on the other hand why are we getting represented by "Arabs living in one area" , what about majority of muslims from Africa and Asia . Obviously I am going to hear all kind of theories the only question I have for you can you watch that program with your kids ....so if you cannot it is great that Lowes pulled the ad and hope other do that to ...

    December 13, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
  15. Bill

    Funny how the author rails against "right wing" groups, when most Muslims are "right wing" of a different feather. I personally have no more or less regard for most Muslims than I do most Christians. However to ignore that those claiming Islam as their basis are responsible for large amounts of the violence and turmoil in many nations.

    Likewise some come to the US intent on pushing their view on others. This has happened with every group that comes here, not just Muslims.

    IF Muslims in America want to really be seen as American, they should be denouncing the violence done in the name of their religion at every turn. I know many of them do this, but that isn't what makes the papers.

    Likewise in this, and every other situation, all religions should be treated equally. If corporation X were to put their ads behind a Christian based program, there would be just as much protest from those opposed to Christianity. It's not right in either case.

    What's good for the goose is good for the gander.

    December 13, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
  16. Travis

    To lump all Muslims together is just foolish. Muslims have been living here before 9/11. A few bad apples do not represent the entire Muslim community, a few bad priest do not represent the entire Catholic church, a few bad coaches(Sandusky & Fine) do not represent the entire coaching community. Hello Home Depot!

    December 13, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
    • Joe

      Will be shopping at Lowes.

      December 13, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
  17. Shame on Lowe's

    Shame on Lowe's for falling into pressure, and shame on all of you who support Lowe's decision and hate on the Muslim religion. I'm not Muslim, but being an ethnic minority who's family has been here for generations, I know what it means to be American and not be viewed as American. Being American does not not mean being a white Christian. I would like to think that being American means being supportive of diversity and knowing that not every Muslim is violent. Catch up to the 21st century and stop generalizing. Congrats to TLC for putting on a show that challenges the changing landscape of American culture.

    December 13, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
    • Patrick

      Read the other comments. Read articles on the subject by other people. MUSLIMS are against this show, do they hate themselves? Grow up.

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

      Well-said!!

      December 13, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
    • Ravyn

      Sorry.. I meant well-said to the first comment, not your's Patrick.

      December 13, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
    • Craig

      Will shop at Lowe's.

      December 13, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
  18. jim

    Lowe's is under no obligation to sponsor any television programs. If American muslims want their show on the air, let them collectively sponsor it themselves. Lowe's is a business, not a charity.

    December 13, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
  19. Peter

    Eve, your commie prof lied to you about the christian religion. Groups doing things in the name of Christ is one thing. Groups worshiping and obeying The Lord is something you know little about. Get a bible and read it, at least once.

    December 13, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
    • TAK

      So what you're saying is, basically, "my imaginary friend is better than your imaginary friend". But if a muslim said that you'd have Homeland Security pay them a visit. People like you are just as dangerous to civilization as the muslim fundamentalists. In fact, you pose a more immediate danger to my way of life because you are allowed to operate in the open.

      December 13, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
  20. Volfan14

    I fully and whole heartedly support Lowes for making the decision to pull out of advertising for a Muslim content show. What would happen in Iran or Egypt or Pakistan or Afganistan if they even showed an American content show of television? Probably death to all involved. America has become land of the free to be sold by our politicians to whom ever it needs to win election. Lowes is to be commended for showing strength and supporting American morals instead of terroristic voodoo religions

    December 13, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
    • Mikey

      u r a bigot

      December 13, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
    • ORLY?

      What Mikey said...

      December 13, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
    • Dan

      Do me a favor and read what you wrote out loud.

      Now tell me it doesn't sound completely moronic.

      December 13, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
    • Sam Yaza

      um dude I was watching it as I flew out of Lebanon they have TLC in those countries

      December 13, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
    • Yah Iam an An All Americna Muslim

      Shows how ignorant you are...they watch american and european TV on the other side of the atlantic.

      This craziness is just that you afraid of something that is not there....just the stupid ideas of the right wing conservative

      December 13, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
    • Mojonaamdi

      Your ignorance shows. FYI , some of the most popular shows in Pakistan, Iran and the Arab world are American TV shows. Too many to mention. Of course, they get the good with the bad. I remember one Egyptian guy telling me that he is scared of black people because he sees them (on TV shows and movies) always robbing people and killing people.
      All you bigots, should pick up a book once in a while. Trust me, it will do you good. Hey, maybe buy a book about different cultures & religions and for Christmas.

      December 13, 2011 at 1:58 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.