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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. Loran Lord

    the comments posted by others are just plain stupid and/or ignorant. Why are they so afraid? Are these people still afraid of blacks, Mexicans, gays? Stop living under rocks people! Read more, travel more, get some 'real life exposure' and educate yourselves...its apparently very needed!

    December 13, 2011 at 3:11 pm |
    • PhillyRN

      Indeed it is:

      http://sheikyermami.com/2007/05/31/female-genital-mutilation-is-part-of-the-sunna-of-the-prophet/

      December 13, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
  2. CommonSensical

    Im not a muslim, but, I am a CEO of a company which buys a lot of building materials. We shall boycott Lowes effective immediatly. Our company does not endorse this type of bigotry and we will not do business with those who do.

    Also, just a note, I have never seen this show because I dont watch reality TV, however, numerous muslims work at my company and they are just as American as anyone else here, shame on Lowes, shame on the Florida Family Foundation. One of my muslim employees, a young woman born in Iran was just talking to me the other day about her worries for her brother who just graduated from basic training as a US Marine and who will most likely be posted overseas. The Florida Family Foundation are not fit to polish his boots.

    December 13, 2011 at 3:09 pm |
    • Steph

      Unless you're the CEO of the trailer park downtown, I'd think you would be able to spell "immediately" properly. Just sayin... I'm sure Lowe's will really miss your business...

      December 13, 2011 at 3:19 pm |
    • BG

      If you're the "CEO of a company which buys a lot of building materials," then I'm an Imam.

      December 13, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
    • PhillyRN

      About 65 companies also withdrew their advertising, btw.

      December 13, 2011 at 3:21 pm |
    • BG

      @ PhillyRN

      That, of course, has been either totally lost on, or ignored by, the liberal and muslim apologists in here. btw, fine job on the FGM issue. There's lots of resources out there, including in-depth articles by the Guardian and tracking by the WHO, among many others. Egypt continues to be an unchecked proponent of FGM, and the practice continues unabated in many western countries afraid of offending their muslim immigrant population.

      It's always entertaining to watch muslims attempt to dismiss the practice. Sort of like "Mission Impossible", when Mr. Phelps is told... "of course, Jim, if you're ever caught, we will disavow any knowledge of you existence."

      December 13, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
  3. Whynot11

    It is a private company, It could have just withdrawn its commercials and not said a thing. This leads me to believe that the show's producers are inciting this retaliation because of the pulled funding, accusing lowes of bigotry.

    December 13, 2011 at 3:09 pm |
  4. Kenneth

    What are we talking about here. Lowes can put their ad dollars anywhere they want to. This is just stupid

    December 13, 2011 at 3:08 pm |
    • Mike

      Of course they can. What is your point?

      December 13, 2011 at 3:15 pm |
    • Gyna

      Of course we can. And we can choose not to shop there when they publicly make a decision like this based on pressure from bigots.

      December 13, 2011 at 3:16 pm |
    • Jason

      Yes, they do have a right to advertise where they chose, but when they do so as a result of pressure from extremists (aka Bullies) that's a game changer. What happens when this group protests companies that advertise during shows that have bi-racial couples, blacks, latinos, etc. Will Lowes and others bend to advertise only with those shows that comply with their entire agenda?

      And then we wonder why the rest of the world hates America. People are IGNORANT! You can find extreme, unbalanced, ignorant people in every corner of the world. Just look at Florida.

      I have a Lowes 5 minutes from my home. I will drive the extra 10 minutes to shop at Home Depot.

      December 13, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
  5. Mymaria714

    Well people, then go out and support the advertisers with your dollars. Go spend freely there. It's your right, just like it's a right of a private business to spend their money wherever they like. You don't like it, don't shop there. Simple as that. Next time a liberal company pulls out of a show because they don't like what they stand for, I want to hear you on here complaining just as loudly.

    December 13, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
    • Fookin' Prawn

      Companies are rarely 'liberal' or 'conservative'. They're interested in profit, period. If something's not profitable, they change it. That's it.

      December 13, 2011 at 3:16 pm |
  6. Ann

    I will be shopping at Home Depot from now on. Relegious, or any other, intolerance is BIGOTRY, there ias no other way to call it. We didn't label all Christains terrorists after the Murrah building was bombed in Oklahoma City killing a lot of children as well as women and men. And telling people who are thrid generation Americans to "go back where they came from" is beyond ignorant. I supposed the next move from Lowes will be to ban women wearing head scarves (by the way devote Jewish women also wear head scarves) and Jewish men with yamakas.

    December 13, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
    • Kenneth

      No big loss..

      December 13, 2011 at 3:09 pm |
    • PhillyRN

      Why does this get a pass?

      http://sheikyermami.com/2007/05/31/female-genital-mutilation-is-part-of-the-sunna-of-the-prophet/

      FGM is performed in the name of Holy Islam all over the Muslim world to the present day. Yet anyone who would criticize a show that avoids any mention of this problem is subjected to hate. Those of us seeking to end FGM need people to educate themselves and to pick a side. You either will allow criticism of Islam or you will try to shut it down. Which is bigotry?

      December 13, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
    • Mark

      Ann,

      Very good news. Thank You. As I hate HD, and never shop there. Now we won't be running into each other in the ailse at Lowe's.

      December 13, 2011 at 3:32 pm |
  7. One Day

    Dunno, seem pretty American to me..

    December 13, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
  8. jo

    Im really disappointed in the negative comments displayed here. It shows how closed minded and racist this country is and how scared and threatened "extreme christians" feel. Honestly they are no different from extreme muslims. Its sad that a country that was built by people from all backgrounds is still so ignorant to assume that this country was built on christianity. Thanksgiving is a celebration of how PAGANS saved the puritan idiots who were starving. Oh the irony. Some of our founding fathers were not christians. This family is Muslim but they are AMERICANS and one is a federal officer. He is fighting to keep this country safe. Did anyone read this article? Shame on Lowes for being weak!!

    December 13, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
    • Kenneth

      Religion needs to get back behind their doors and quit trying to impose their beliefs on everyone. What if we decided to make you be a pagan, after all Christians stole most of their holidays from the pagans to start with. Its OK for you to treat those who don't believe like you bad but they cannot treat you that way. If you walk in to a church you are a Bigot.

      December 13, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
    • Foster

      Not sure what to say. It is so disheartening.

      I have lived among Muslims and have known many. They are some of the most peace-loving people I know. Much more so than so many of the "Christians" I know. When we talk about UnAmerican activities, many of the hateful comments here are just that. They are UnAmerican and undermine all that is good about America. I am a former business person and business professor, originally from Georga. I was brought up in a conservative Christian home. I wish those that identify themselves as "Christians" for political and social reasons would leave this term only for thoise that are try to live "Christ-like". I know that all who have posted hateful remarks don't identify themselves as "Christians," but any who identify themselves as trying to live as "Christ-like," need to speak up. Shame on Lowe's.

      December 13, 2011 at 3:25 pm |
  9. BD

    First they came for the communists,
    And I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.
    Then they came for the trade unionists,
    And I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionists.
    Then they came for they Jews.
    And I didn’t speak our because I wasn’t a Jew.
    Then they came for me,
    And there was no on left to speak out for me.

    December 13, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
    • PhillyRN

      Then they came for the little girls, but the liberals were too correct to speak out:

      http://sheikyermami.com/2007/05/31/female-genital-mutilation-is-part-of-the-sunna-of-the-prophet/

      December 13, 2011 at 3:16 pm |
  10. doug

    another example of just how Christian these kind of Christians really are ...You claim that "christianity is under attack" so why is it that you guys are the ones who seem to be doing all the attacking . from Muslims to Atheists to gays ect. ect..ect..get out of our faces . make sure your own houses are in order & mind your own bussiness. read your bible & see what Jesus says about people who hate .wake up there is a whole world out there filled with good & moral people who have ideas who differ from your narrow viewpoint & yet love & embrace those arround them who are different

    December 13, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
    • One Day

      Where's the "like" button?

      December 13, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
    • Troystory

      Reach down the front of your pants. It's right there.

      December 13, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
    • PhillyRN

      I'm sure you are right if Islam was only a benign religion advocating good. Unfortunately, it advocates practices like this:

      http://sheikyermami.com/2007/05/31/female-genital-mutilation-is-part-of-the-sunna-of-the-prophet/

      This is not just a culture war. This is a war for human rights.

      December 13, 2011 at 3:17 pm |
  11. Dave Monroe

    Christians have been killing in the name of God and Christ for quite a while now. Funny thing how some use religion as justification for killing. Must be a human trait. We're still too soon out of the jungle. The species needs to evolve some more. Just can't get rid of this killing thing.

    December 13, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
  12. Heather

    Wow. This is very frightening what a slippery slope people. So do most of you identify as Christian? A religion that we can historically blame for such amazing enlightened genocides and atrocities such as the crusades, the spanish inquisition, the destruction of the American Indian? There are good and bad people in EVERY faith. Demonizing any one sect is what has led us to some of the worst wars and atrocities man has ever committed. During WWII a common comment was "well it's only Jews" and that was made by American Christians. I don't think I'm alone (or I hope I'm not) in saying that I find my religions bloody and brutal past to be repugnant. Does that mean I should argue against any sort of positive entertainment showing the alternative side of that?

    December 13, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
    • MJMP

      Depends on your definition of christian, catholics are not considered christian by bible believers, you have to understand religion to speak on it, until you do be quiet. Spanish inquisition= catholics, crusades=catholics. Its like comparing judaism to islam...

      December 13, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
  13. MJMP

    Bigotry is a white word for white people, I dont see any other races creeds or religions caring if they offend someone else, why should they, why should we.

    Cnn stop deleting my comment you fundamentalists, censorship is a muslim thing not american.

    December 13, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
  14. Jillian

    I'm shopping at Lowe's! They had the nerve to point out that the Emperor has no clothes, and I applaud them for that rarely seen quality

    December 13, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
    • cmxsmitty

      You're a horrible excuse for a human being. Have you even seen the show?

      December 13, 2011 at 3:05 pm |
    • Mark

      Hey cmxsmitty, I'm shopping there too...phuck-stick!!

      December 13, 2011 at 3:16 pm |
    • Amir

      phuck-sticks are in aisle 7, right next to the cu m buckets.

      December 13, 2011 at 3:35 pm |
  15. Matt

    What if Christians where judged by the most extreme members of our religion? We would be no better. Anyone remember the crusades? This is foolish, we need to learn to respect our neighbors and their beliefs or there will never be peace. If you truly believed the teachings of Christianity then you would be not be treating the Muslims with such disrespect. In what passage in the bible did Jesus tell us to persecute our neighbors and chase them out of our communities if they don't follow the same beliefs as us?

    December 13, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
    • soul2squeez

      yeah a lot of people forget what they are taught when they go to church on sundays. or maybe they think it only applies to other christians.

      December 13, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
    • MJMP

      Catholics and christian are two different religions,
      Catholics believe good works and confession to a priest will get you to heaven,
      True Christians believe all men sin, and the only way to heaven is to believe in Jesus Christ as the son of God,
      Catholics dont believe jesus was anything more than just a man, they pray to his mother as though she was a deity.
      Almost all "christian" wars were waged by the catholics, and in many instances against true christians.

      December 13, 2011 at 3:11 pm |
    • One7777777

      You are to treat a stranger well. However, you do NOT let them bring their false gods into your nation.

      P.S. Islam is the anti-christ and false prophet. Wake UP.

      December 13, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
    • Chris Rowland

      Matt, I don't have any problem with the show and I think it is a good thing, and I am all for keeping it on the air. But you ask "anyone remember the crusades?" Actually, no, no one alive remembers the crusades. They were centuries and centuries ago (1300's and before). So if you really have to dig that far back to find the big sins of Christianity, then I think that is telling... telling of how Christians overall have advanced over the past 6 centuries.
      Most of us do however remember 9/11, because it happened 10 years ago,and most of us remember the extreme violence that exists in much of the Muslim world right now at this point. It is a fact.
      Try putting a show about a good Christian family on in the air in Saudi Arabia or Iran. It's not going to happen.
      So I think that there are real issues with the Islamic world. And constantly trying to rub Christians' faces in some rotten stuff they did centuries ago just doesn't prove the point that every religion is as good (or bad) as the other.

      December 13, 2011 at 3:22 pm |
    • Chris

      No one has the right to kill another in the name of religion.Be it muslims or whoever.

      December 13, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
  16. MissMissouri

    Family Guy had it right, Florida is the trash can of the south! Lowes is pathetic to cater to ANY fanatical religious group even if it is Americas moral (what a joke) majority. How sad:(

    December 13, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
  17. CaptUSMC

    So, voice your disapproval with your wallet. In other words, don't shop at Lowe's. I don't agree with their decision to pull the ads; however, Lowe's has the right to make that decision. This is America, after all.

    December 13, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
  18. soul2squeez

    @ashmed

    If we have killed civilians it's because the coward muslim radicals like to hide behind their own people when they attack us. It's a tactic. Now I dont agree with what Lowes has done. Obviously this country isn't as accepting of different culutres as we like to say we are. But dont put the civilkian deaths on us, they use their own people as shields. And, many soldiers have been killed due to the extra precations we have taken in trying to avoid the collateral damage.

    December 13, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
  19. BILL RELPH

    OH MY!!! LOT-SO IGNORANT COMMENTS!!! HALF TRUTHS AND LOT-SO MISINFORMATION!!! ABSOLUTELY NO COMPREHENSION ABOUT THE ISLAMIC RELIGION, ITS BELIEF SYSTEM AND ULTIMATE GOAL!!!ABSOLUTELY NO COMPREHENSION ABOUT CHRISTIANITY, WHO IT REPRESENTS AND ITS ULTIMATE GOAL!!!! THE AUTHOR'S ARTICLE IS ALSO
    REPLETE WITH IGNORANT, VITRIOLIC, INFLAMMATORY STATEMENTS!! BUT HE SURE GOT YOUR ATTENTION!!! AND MY ATTENTION!!!!

    December 13, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
    • Fookin' Prawn

      Absolutely no comprehension of where the capslock key is.

      December 13, 2011 at 3:19 pm |
  20. iBELIEVE

    I wanna see "All-American FLDS" !!!

    December 13, 2011 at 2:58 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.