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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. Buminenga

    Was going to Home Depot today, but now going to Lowes. I completely disagree with the Muslim religion and will always resist any effort to legitimize it. Those of you who believe in human rights (yes, this includes women's' rights), simply should not tolerate Islam. Do your research... learn about Muslim nations. There are little if any freedoms in these places. Don't fall victim to the "blame America first" mentality. Islamists seek to dominate the world... do you support this?

    December 13, 2011 at 2:08 pm |
    • GORT01

      i AGREE.

      December 13, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
    • GORT01

      i AGREE.. There is nothing legitimate about demeaning women, subjecting them to torture and lives that are not their own, making men the only ones with power and in general hideous living conditions. Enough of people coming to my country, and then trying to force their "cultural" practices here. If you love your Sharia Law so much, go back to you own country and practice it...Not here

      December 13, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
    • 2tired2care

      By your standards, democracy does not work.

      December 13, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
    • Ivan D. Ursery II

      Thank you! The difference between us Americans and the rest of the West is that we don't fall for the "Oke doke"!

      December 13, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
  2. Big Tex

    I'm going to go make a large purchase at Lowe's as my way of saying 'thanks!'

    December 13, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
    • 2tired2care

      for what, bigotry?

      December 13, 2011 at 2:08 pm |
    • Big Tex

      no, for some power tools and lumber.

      December 13, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
  3. American13

    Lowes has every right to choose where their advertising dollar is spent. If they choose to pull their ads from an Muslim television show, so be it. You as the consumer also have the right to shop elsewhere. Either way, it's about time the people of this nation stand up for what they believe in, not matter what that is. Quit being passive, mindless, uneducated followers and form an opinion based on your own thoughts instead of letting the news media tell you what you should think..

    December 13, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
    • peaceman

      great comment. I wonder, where will all of this fear lead us? I can tell you where it lead Rwanda, Germany, Bosnia, and many other nations led like cows to the water.

      December 13, 2011 at 2:14 pm |
  4. KareemCheez

    The show is a classic example of leftist propaganda. This is why Lowe's pulled its advertising dollars.
    Lowe's. Let's Build Something. Truth in advertising is a really good start.

    December 13, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
  5. oh please

    Biased reporting
    youre too close to this ti even open your mouth to comment

    BESIDES...muslims are just as evil as christians and ALL other reglions who demand there is a supreme being There is NO GOD
    grow up
    no one wants muslims throwing their religion in your face and they dont want christians doing it either, lies are lies whether or not you call it any name, religions are lies

    December 13, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
  6. jeremiah

    Good for Lowes, If that is what they want to do. You have a right to shop where you like, if it offends you go someplace else. This isnt news, this is PC crap.

    December 13, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
  7. Frank!

    I watched "All American Muslim" for the first, last and only time last night. I got sick of the fat dude cursing everyone for not being Muslim enough. Ever notice how when a person of a particular religion or race is in the minority, he all of the sudden becomes a martyr for his cause, yapping to everyone how they fall short of whatever sense of perfection he talks about. Everyone is Mohammed, Jesus, Moses, Martin Luther King or Nathan Hale when he feels his beliefs are challenged. PULEEEEEASE SPARE ME ALL THE DRAMA!

    The only people I found tolerable in this show is the cop and his family and the leggy blonde (HOT HOT HOT).

    Also, the Koran says NOTHING about wearing that stupid hijab. That is a man-made idea, and it's only purpose is to keep other men from looking at his "property." And, in most Muslim cultures, women are little more than concubines and property to be bought and sold.

    December 13, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
    • leah

      so...I married a muslim man....and I was raised Presbyterian....i don't wear a head scarf, nor am i his property. What you are speaking about are the extreme fringes of the religion; Saudi, etc.. You haven't a clue what you're even talking about.

      December 13, 2011 at 2:08 pm |
    • Frank!

      Leah, actually I DO know what I am talking about. And, why don't you be honest with us and tell us how many times you've been encouraged/nagged to wear the scarf by your husband, mother-in-law, sister-in-law or women at the mosque? But, I suspect you will give in one day and give up your individuality and sense of pride like most Muslim women.

      And, remember I did not say that HERE women are property. I said in "most Muslim cultures."

      December 13, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
  8. MikeyMikeMichaelandyouknowwhyitsmyname

    @hellbent can't even bring youself to type the word christ eh? boo buggabuggabugga boo you must have some kind of saturday morning cartoon idea of what God nad Christianity is....I will pray for you ! http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/

    December 13, 2011 at 2:02 pm |
    • MikeyMikeMichaelandyouknowwhyitsmyname

      there...just prayed...I bet your feeling a little uneasy right now...thats alright...it's God's Grace...you will get used to it...and you will need it when this reality is over...BTW He has unlimited stores of Grace in His Stockpile....no guilt...just grace !!

      December 13, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
    • trippp

      Praying is about as good as a wish. Im sure your prayer will be answered while millions of children die of starvation, and are killed, tortured for being a whitch by christian pastors. Its because of religion and this myth of god that this world is so screwed up.

      December 13, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
    • HellBent

      You're somehow offended at my shorthand? sigh. Like most atheists that I know, I was a fervent believer for quite a long time before I started questioning my faith and thinking for myself, rather than just accepting what I was told. Try again.

      And the reply link is the one next to 'report abuse'. Though I realize that the interwebs can be tricky sometimes.

      December 13, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
  9. Common sense

    I sure wish he would put this much energy in to changing the mindset of the thousands of terrorists within his religion, rather than trying to change my mindset.

    December 13, 2011 at 2:02 pm |
    • southwest

      That guy appears to be a religious zealot, asking him to have common sense is asking for the impossible!

      December 13, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
  10. MaxQ

    TLC is trying to do a show called !nfedels of Mecca and have Saudi Aramco sponsor it. Think it will fly?

    December 13, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
    • peaceman

      does that effect you? Are you so insecure in your beliefs that a tv show challenges them? Are you a racist bigot or a christian sir? it's impossible to be both

      December 13, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
  11. dug

    This show is further evidence of american muslimism trying to separate itself from mainstream world wide muslimism. Why? because they want the benefits of living in the best country in the history of the world without being linked to the reality of the muslim ways. America did not become what it is based on Muslim ideals. Muslim nations HATE america, they war against us and our principles, they openly mock our multiple religions and governmental systems. Until the Muslim nations choose a different path, one of peace, tolerance, freedom of thought, women's rights, etc etc etc, I will completely support Lowes. In fact I will go there today.

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

      Went there today. Packed as usual.

      December 13, 2011 at 2:02 pm |
    • leah

      You couldn't be more wrong if you tried. Seriously. The amount of idiotic, uneducated people in our country make me sick, and I wish I had the funds and means to leave. Seriously. I cannot condone such hatred. This is what your Jesus talk every Sunday has turned this country into. A bunch of blubbering idiots.

      December 13, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
    • Frank!

      I have to agree with you. I have known many Muslims who come here from Jordan, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, etc and whine about all the freedoms and opportunities available to women. They complain about our drinking. They say we are decadent, and our society is doomed unless we convert. I happily invite them to return to whatever paradise from which they fled. I'm not going to apologize for the US. Yeah, we have our faults, and yeah, the war in Iraq was stupid, but that's where I draw the line. We are what we are in the United States, and I'll take it any day over the alternatives.

      December 13, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
    • soul2squeez

      lets not forget christianity's dark past.

      December 13, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
    • dug

      Leah, all you have to do is look around. I never mentioned Christ by the way. The US was not founded on Muslim principles. If it were, you would have ZERO rights. Funny you say I am uneducated. I have traveled the world and have seen these things FIRST HAND. You can try to ignore the truth by calling me uneducated, blubbering, and hateful. But the ugly truth is that, world wide, the muslim world must make changes internally about how it treats the rest of the world. Until it does this, don't try to push your baised views on us.

      December 13, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
  12. Common sense

    I like how this guy tried to associate his religious group with those of people born the way they are (e.g. black, hispanic, etc). Being Muslim is a choice...and we saw the fruits of that choice on 9/11.

    Don't believe me? Even CNN agrees, check out this article from today (how apropo): A woman was beheaded in Saudi Arabia for practicing witchcraft and sorcery, the kingdom's Interior Ministry said, prompting Amnesty International to call for a halt in executions there.

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

      He did mention sister wife's too. Which is part of a religion and illegal.

      December 13, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
    • ASDF

      did the ax have a lowes logo on it?

      ...because I would understand them wanting to avoid THAT kind of advertising.

      December 13, 2011 at 2:12 pm |
    • soul2squeez

      didnt christians burn people at the stake, and hang those practicing witchcraft and sorcery?

      December 13, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
    • bobbyfrank

      What we saw on 9/11 was our very bad foreign policy coming back to bite us. They didn't just wake up one day and say we are going to attack America.

      December 13, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
  13. peaceman

    Anyone ever look into the Florida Family Association? Now there's a terrorist group. Anyone wonder why a small conservative group has control over a Fortune 50 company? Be scared people. When folks as radical as them can pull strings with a major corporation like Lowe's, time to be scared.

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

      If you read the press release it was not one group,but many people.

      December 13, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
    • ASHAMED

      I am officially ashamed to be part of this country. You people are disgusting. America has killed more civilians in the last 10 years then any other country. You let your governement and the media put fear in you to distract you from the truth. I wish there was a christian hell because you would all be in it for not supporting a single thing in your so called bible. Christian values are a joke.

      December 13, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
    • Rob

      The group led the letter writing campaign.

      December 13, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
    • BG

      @ ASHAMED says

      " I am officially ashamed to be part of this country."

      but then...

      " You people are disgusting. ... you let your governement [sic] and the media put fear in you to distract you from the truth. "

      So, it's "you" and not "us?" Which means that you're not really a part of this country. That's a good thing.

      You don't like it here, so stay t-f out. You're a classic case against open immigration.

      December 13, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
  14. KING

    I am a proud Muslim. I work with Americans, christian, Jews, Indian etc. at the end of the day I go home and they are going home to their families eat, talk, pray or whatever. I as a Muslim support America and I do appreciate what I have in America. The religion will not go away but yet we as human will go away from this world. Don't fight the religion, be a good human for yourself, Family, friends and people around you. If Lowes dose not want to put their add on Muslim show so what is the big deal??? Let it go people and do something better in life!!!

    December 13, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
  15. oh right

    I haven't been on CNN in a while, so I was starting to think again that the general American population was open-minded, reasonable, and not racist. How foolish of me.

    December 13, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
  16. see2believeOK

    I SUPPORT LOWES AND I HOPE OTHER SPONSORS DUMP THIS SHOW. AMERICAN NEEDS TO DUMP ISLAM!

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

      I don't watch the show but there are other religious reality shows on television. If they dump this one then they should dump them all.

      December 13, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
  17. bobby ho

    Cheers to Lowes for standing up for Christian values. Wake up people and understand what's happening here.

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

      Lowe's it is!

      December 13, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
    • dug

      they are not standing up for Christian values, they are standing down on being linked to world wide muslim doctrine of hate towards the infidels, primarily the USA

      December 13, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
    • Rob

      America is made up of many different religions. You are suggesting that there is a war on religion in the US. I don't agree with that if there is programming that you don't like then change the channel. Muslim's will still be able to shop in the stores. So what was actually accomplished?

      December 13, 2011 at 2:14 pm |
    • HellBent

      It's a xtian value to be a bigot? To judge a billion people based upon the radical action of a handful? Huh, I don't remember jesus preaching that. In fact, I remember precisely the opposite. Maybe I'm just using a different translation of the bible.

      December 13, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
    • TNF

      Why does it always come back to Christian values. What about just plain old values?? Being a Christian doesn't automatically mean you have values in fact there have been many examples to the contrary. Besides, who ever said that Christians had the corner on values? Stop throwing religion into the mix every chance you get. Not everyone is a Christian and it certainly doesn't mean they are bad or don't have values.

      December 13, 2011 at 2:24 pm |
  18. Alex in NJ

    The other funny thing here is how so many of the people calling on a boycott of Lowes, and refusing to shop there are demonstrating to power and tools of the free market. You don't like a way a company does business, you don't give them your business and you encourage others to follow suit. You do not use the force of the government to make them change their ways. Yet, a lot of the same people on here calling for a boycott and saying they would refuse to shop at Lowes, are likely many of the same Left wing nuts that support Occupy, which calls for government's to force companies to change their business models, just because certain people don't like them.

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

      Well, for starters, that is pure assumption on your part....

      But also.. the two issues are not really related. OWS is generally focusing on the corrupt relationship between the financial industry and government, so private interests using government to further their own goals at the expense of voters. Not something that can really be addressed with a boycott.

      December 13, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
    • dug

      Neeneko, nice description of the OWS. Unfortunately, 95% of the protesters have no clue what they are doing out there.

      December 13, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
    • Bippy, the OWS Protester

      Heyyy, man. Try this weed. S'awsommm.

      December 13, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
  19. CitizenJP

    It is not illogical that people have developed an Islamphobia. All stereotypes do seem to have some basis. Human brain must be naturally susceptible to stereotypes as a ptrotection mechanism. As long as Islamic leaders and public officials and celebrities do not overwhelmingly decry terrorism or killing of innocent civilians, a shred of doubt will remain in people's minds.

    December 13, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
    • Alex in NJ

      Couldn't agree more. People have to realize that all Muslims are not terrorists and most are good hardworking people. But at the same time you can't pretend that Islamic Extremism is not a huge problem and that it is not in some way connected back with a certain brand of Islam. The truth is in the middle of the road, not on either side.

      December 13, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
  20. Chiara

    Muslims are the biggest bigots on earth. Lowe's has the same freedom to pull its ads as tlc has to run this show. Maybe tlc can run another reality games show, since a woman was just beheaded in saudi. Let's see, we could watch floggings, beheadings, hands being cut off, animals being tortured. Gee, it would be a weekly show, sure to be a huge sharia hit.

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

      yes, indeed. fundamentalists have a lot in common, not to mention small brains.

      December 13, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
    • Reba Donaldson

      Love you LOWES!! Thank you.
      It's good to see someone standing up for real Americans. We don't like your inhumane religious standards. That's not American or the American way of life. We do not kill our wifes, daughters or any family members and justify it in the name of religion, any religion!! Those who try go to jail. If you don't like it ...leave. Go back to your screwed up country with it's screwed up religion. We live in peace with other religions, even when we don't agree. But none of like your sick way of using religion. Not the Jews, Not the Christians, Not the Blacks, Not the Whites, not any American. Don't you get it? Your hateful, sick ways and Jehad threats are what's causing alot of your dislike. Get it?

      December 13, 2011 at 2:23 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.