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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. aj

    you cant hate all muslim because of 911 there its same if all world is gona hate christian becouse HITLER was christian , you and hitler share same religion are you gona be judge because what he did

    December 13, 2011 at 11:26 am |
    • mm

      Your post is absurd. It was Christians who defeated Hitler. Your post does nothing but point to bad behavior in order to justify other bad behavior.

      December 13, 2011 at 11:37 am |
    • tallulah13

      The hijackers were not muslims, as a muslim I know this. However, Hilter was a christian.

      December 13, 2011 at 11:39 am |
    • soonerman3

      You are an idiot, Hitler was not a christian he was anti-christian. Good example of an ignorant, uneducated muslim, par for the course aye!! Get out of our country you don't belong here.

      December 13, 2011 at 11:42 am |
    • brain wave

      hitler may have been born christian, but did not believe in christianity let alone God, he thought he was God...as to that dooochebag tallulah13...those hijackers were muslims as the sky is blue, so stop trying to rewrite history

      December 13, 2011 at 11:44 am |
    • fleecingthepeople

      I see your Quran and false prophet taught you well, Hitler believed in Darwinism. Get the F out of my country!

      December 13, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
  2. Lois Heckman

    As an american atheist jew i'm never going to shop at Lowe's again that's for sure. I called and emailed them. they are totally disgusting. but on the bright side – i think a lot more folks are now going to be aware of and watching the show! 🙂

    December 13, 2011 at 11:25 am |
    • fleecingthepeople

      LMAO.... get out of here with your propaganda you closet muslim

      December 13, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
  3. TruthHurts

    Trying to equate the Muslim religion to being african american, latino, or anything else is not a valid comparison. Can you tell me the last time a Latino or African American suicide-bombed a federal building in the name of "African Americans"...or because of some "Latino god"? No? Because it doesn't happen. Muslims DO however justify the killing of americans WITH THE MUSLIM RELIGION. Religious text from the holy book DOES pretty much say to kill anyone who doesn't agree with you. Stop denying the facts...Islam is a religion of hate. You can't go around preaching how much you hate others, and then complain when those others turn around and say they hate you in return.

    December 13, 2011 at 11:25 am |
    • Luis Wu

      Do you judge all Christians by the antics of the right wing evangelical fundamentalist idiots or by the actions of Morman polygamists? Or by the Oklahoma City bombers? The vast majority of Muslims are good people. It's only the radicals that are terrorists. Grow a brain and stop being a bigot.

      December 13, 2011 at 11:29 am |
    • Mike jones

      Thanks to the ACLU and others, Islam will be the only religion in America by 2015. Sharia Law will become standard. Those who do not convert will be chased down. ACLU is working to eliminate Christmas and Easter all together. Christmas is already banned in some public schools. Your voting system does not work. The only ones with power in America to change anything are Islamics, Civil libertarians, the Media, and OWS anarchists. they are all working together for the downfall of the empire.

      December 13, 2011 at 11:31 am |
    • marty rogers

      the problem with your argument is that the US has killed more muslims than any terrorist has killed americans (over 100,000 in Iraq alone).The white race has caused tremendous massacres, and in the name of the christian religion, in many countries in Europe...how would you like to be judge by those people's actions? should we ban shows featuring german families because of the holocaust? See, your problem is the generalization: it is a disservice to society to assume all members of a group are defined by the fringe. Muslims are in fact the primary victims of muslim terrorists and many would like to just live a peaceful life, contribute to society and raise their children.

      December 13, 2011 at 11:33 am |
    • marty rogers

      MIke: you either need a new church or new meds....

      December 13, 2011 at 11:35 am |
  4. marty rogers

    religion of any kind is the problem. If people want to pray in the privacy of their home, so be it, but all and all, organized religion, (not God) has done a lot more harm than good in the history of the world, be it christian, jewish, muslim, or whatever. Oh and BTW, wont be shopping at Lowes.

    December 13, 2011 at 11:25 am |
    • tallulah13

      except for us Muslims.

      December 13, 2011 at 11:27 am |
    • fleecingthepeople

      exactly tallulah13, we know you don't want to pray in your own home, you wont all of america to bow down to your false prophet

      December 13, 2011 at 1:04 pm |
    • fleecingthepeople

      exactly tallulah13, we know you don't want to pray in your own home, you want all of America to bow down to your false prophet

      December 13, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
  5. hittler

    stupid lowes are all jews who cares what they do

    December 13, 2011 at 11:25 am |
  6. tbone

    this is a free society. people can do what they like. Just like you can boybott lowes if you like. Claiming everything is racism or bigotry shows you have a weak argument and are pandering to the ignorance of your audience. when you point your finger you have 4 pointing right back at you.... grow up

    December 13, 2011 at 11:24 am |
    • marty rogers

      how is his argument not valid? this is a clear example of bigotry. look up the meaning of the word. knowledge is a great thing!

      December 13, 2011 at 11:27 am |
  7. Mike jones

    After looking at all your posts, I will vote for Fidel Castro or Hugo Chavez and will join OWS to force communism in America. At that point, Lowes, Home Depot, and all food places will be shut down under government control and we will give all citizens rationing cards like in Cuba. Thanks all you lefties for convincing me that Cuban-style communism is what you want! Viva Che!

    December 13, 2011 at 11:24 am |
  8. spawn of statan

    I agree father

    December 13, 2011 at 11:24 am |
  9. Satan

    I shop at lowes.

    December 13, 2011 at 11:23 am |
  10. anti khrist

    i am here to abolish slavery

    December 13, 2011 at 11:23 am |
  11. Adam

    What is worse? Being racist (Florida Family Association), or being Spineless (Lowe's)? Can you imagine a company pulling advertising from the Cosby show back in the 80s because the KKK said showing black people as doctors and lawyers is propaganda hiding their true agenda? This is disgusting and I will never shop at Lowe's again unless they issue a real apology and reinstate their advertising.

    December 13, 2011 at 11:23 am |
  12. anti

    i am the anti christ and i support lowest

    December 13, 2011 at 11:22 am |
    • Nadine

      Give me a break. This happens all the time. The Mormon Church was behind that whole Yes on 8 thing and they were unfortunately successful. So it is not just Muslims that are being targeted. Everyone has an agenda dont they?

      December 13, 2011 at 11:30 am |
  13. Paul

    who cares? I think any group that bothers to show they are different does nothing but keep the issues and problems alive. LGBT, Black, Latino, White, Asian, Jewish Catholic and all the other groups – at the end of the day we are all the same and we all live and die and pay taxes. . Lets all just get along as best we can – please.

    December 13, 2011 at 11:22 am |
    • lysander

      While I would agree with your optimistic view on civil society, the fact is that people hate other people based squarely on ignorance and xenophobia. This show is trying to illustrate your point, that Muslims aren't different from anyone else. However, because of cowards that are afraid of some conspiracy theory that the show is a subliminal message for Sharia Law, the issue stands that people want to be scared of others to feel safe some how.

      December 13, 2011 at 11:26 am |
  14. Rob

    Everyone attacking Muslims needs to read Martin Niemöller's "First they came ..." and then sit down and think on it for an hour or so. America is America because we have always accepted the outcasts – we are, for lack of a better word, mutts, and everyone loves a mutt.

    December 13, 2011 at 11:22 am |
    • Richard

      Mutts don't chop off the heads of helpless captives.

      December 13, 2011 at 11:23 am |
    • lysander

      Neither do Muslims. Those were murderers. Unless you're under the belief that ever brutal murder was done under the flag of religion. If that's the case, Hitler was an admitted Christian. I guess all Christians are mass murderers.

      December 13, 2011 at 11:29 am |
    • what?

      Martin who?

      December 13, 2011 at 11:29 am |
  15. Kerry

    The only solution is a mass boycott of Lowes. If they don't listen to the majority of Americans but instead insist on pandering to religious Fundamentalist bigots, then there is no point doing business with them. It is simple as that. What gaul these extremist Christian groups and extremist religious groups in general have saying they represent all Americans. They don't speak for me.

    December 13, 2011 at 11:22 am |
  16. Millard Roswell

    "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?"

    If it had been a show about gay people they would have buckled in a New York minute.

    December 13, 2011 at 11:22 am |
  17. John

    THANK YOU LOWES for pulling out of a religious program with an hidden agenda. I will now return to Lowes for my shopping.

    December 13, 2011 at 11:21 am |
    • Luis Wu

      Bigot.

      December 13, 2011 at 11:24 am |
    • fleecingthepeople

      luis wu, why the insults, cant you type any words without hate. This is America, take that dollar bill out your pocket and read what it says.... UNITED STATES of AMERICA IN GOD WE TRUST. and does not say allah or muhammaed. Take your quran, hadith , or whatever damn book you read and go back to the Islamic world because this is not it.

      December 13, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
    • DL

      You do know that the GOD WE TRUST part wasn't added until just this last century? Read up on your history...the last thing the founding fathers wanted was another religious state. You're more in line with the Puritans, who were actually thought of as radicals in Europe.

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

      DL, whats your point? do you want that changed to PEACE BE UPON HIM? You do your own research on the false prophet muhammed and you will probably hate yourself if you are a muslim.

      December 13, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
  18. fatherof3

    If any of you good patriotic Muslims would ever publically and loudly condemn the Islamic Terrorists that cut off a person's head, that kill Christians just because they are Christians, and lobby for freedom of religion in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, etc., then I would have a completely different opinion of you.

    December 13, 2011 at 11:21 am |
    • Luis Wu

      A lot of them have indeed come out strongly agains terrorism. But of course you only read, and believe what you want. Bigot.

      December 13, 2011 at 11:25 am |
    • Shiriin

      If you could pull you head out of your butt for a few minutes you would know that American Muslims have publicly condemned all terrorist attacks numerous times, on numerous occasions, and do not even consider those terrorists true followers of the Islamic faith. However, People like you are so stubborn in your beliefs that you will never actually do your research.

      December 13, 2011 at 11:28 am |
    • fatherof3

      Please cite one article that supports your statement.
      I, too, have muslm friends that say that these actions are a shame, but they are not willing to go public with the comments.

      December 13, 2011 at 11:43 am |
    • What's That?

      " I, too, have muslm friends that say that these actions are a shame, but they are not willing to go public with the comments."

      December 13, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
    • Say It Again !

      "" I, too, have muslm friends that say that these actions are a shame, but they are not willing to go public with the comments.""

      December 13, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
    • Louder ! LOUDER !

      """ I, too, have muslm friends that say that these actions are a shame,

      but they are not willing to go public with the comments."""

      December 13, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
  19. fleecingthepeople

    Sharia Law has no place in America plain and simple. We were built on the fundamentals of Christianity by our fore fathers and that's the way it will stay. I will fight to the bitter end to protect our way of life before I allow my country to be taken over by some people who don't embrace the American culture for what it is. Just like many immigrants did generation after generation, get in line and assimilate or get the hell out.

    December 13, 2011 at 11:21 am |
    • Luis Wu

      American Muslims don't want Sharia law any more than you do. Why don't you do some research on the subjet before posting ignorant nonsnes that you pulled out of your posterior?

      December 13, 2011 at 11:27 am |
    • fleecingthepeople

      I have done my research, I do see it everyday, I have spent time in that crap hole country Pakistan, Egypt and Iran for work and I can tell you this. The people in Michigan are no different. If you/they don't want Sharia Law or Islamic ways why did a predominately muslim High school force a non muslim to alter his regular daily life in order for the other players to observe Ramadan. Do we tell you have to observe Easter or force it on school districts? Why don't you stop lying about your religion that is not modern at all.

      December 13, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
  20. Schazbut

    Just goes to show that even right win nuts do home repair too....now they have a pathetic company to serve them.

    December 13, 2011 at 11:21 am |
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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.