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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. Nonimus

    Dont tell me that if this show had to do with, "AMERICAN CHRISTIANS" that the Muslim community or any other group would not be upset about it.
    I think we as a nation have become to intolerant of these so called religions and other groups we need to stop it for this is American not some Muslim nation.
    We didnt build our country on Muslim faith but Christian faith!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I dont agree in burning the Koran, I dont agree in bashing people with insults that hurt but dont try to force this stuff down our throats for enough is enough!!!!!!!
    From where I teach and live the Muslims have one agenda and that is to take over USA and bring us to our knees in some sort of Muslim nation.
    Get real ppl America is America and we arent Muslim!!!!!!!!!!!

    December 13, 2011 at 4:06 pm |
    • J.W

      Wow Nominus you must be sick that does not sound like you.

      December 13, 2011 at 4:07 pm |
    • Gurgi

      Ummm, you might want to get something to clean up that puddle of sarcasm you made.

      December 13, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
  2. J.W

    Lowe's is the only company I have heard of to say that it hates Muslims. It must be the only non-terrorist company in the world.

    December 13, 2011 at 4:05 pm |
  3. Elliot

    This action by Lowe's and many of the comments on here are disappointing, but unsurprising. It's what you get when you continually cut education funding until people are fundamentally incapable of constructing logical arguments or separating a person's cultural values from their religious beliefs.

    December 13, 2011 at 4:05 pm |
    • NannyG

      Or writing run-on sentences.

      December 13, 2011 at 4:09 pm |
  4. Amy

    "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."

    No, of course not, because Latino's, African-Americans, Jewish, and gays have never succeeded in murdering nearly 3,000 of OUR people in one terrorist plot . I'm sure if any of these groups had ever done such a thing then Lowe's and other companies would probably not want to be part of promoting their ideals. The MAJORITY of Muslims despise Americans.

    December 13, 2011 at 4:04 pm |
    • nuetral

      What a sweehaert! Freshman poli sci 101 and now you're carbon copy of Palin.

      December 13, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
    • sxvidrin

      Agree...Let's never forget 911.

      December 13, 2011 at 4:15 pm |
  5. Gurgi

    There is a point at which choosing to be blind will have adverse consequences. A lot of the posters on here have reached that point. I just hope there are not enough to allow the religion of islam to reach its goal of a world ruled by sharia law.

    December 13, 2011 at 4:03 pm |
    • nuetral

      LOL! Gotta love the comic relief from this guy!

      December 13, 2011 at 4:09 pm |
    • Gurgi

      Ok nuetral, got your number, you're just a troll.

      December 13, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
    • nuetral

      Good comeback. Hey everyone, I'm a troll!

      December 13, 2011 at 4:34 pm |
  6. Jahova

    Wah! Keep your crying! " Whoa is me because I'm (fill in applicable minority here) and America hates me because of my ethnicity", not because I'm an ass. Yeah, right.
    In the mean time, I will continue to live in this country, consuming everything America has to offer, all while spouting my own bigotry and claiming to be a "victim."

    December 13, 2011 at 4:03 pm |
    • JDinTX

      I think you mean "woe."

      December 13, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
  7. Rod C. Venger

    In 2009, Malik Nadal Hasan, a proud Muslim-American US Army Major, and a doctor, walked into a building in Ft Hood and shot 13 people to death, wounding a few dozen others, all fellow soldiers. Let's not beat around the bush here. The fact that one of these on the show is a cop and another a federal agent means nothing. America is in the middle of a protracted post-9/11 discussion and the author thinks it's time that the debate ends. Methinks otherwise.

    December 13, 2011 at 4:03 pm |
  8. sam

    I will shop Lowe's now on. I am Christian Egyptian who lives in the US and I am fed up with the islamic propaganda spreading lies about how peaceful islam is. For everyone of you who sympathies with this pathetic agenda I say go to the middle east, and see the real bigotry. Watch how muslim prosecute christians and non muslims.

    December 13, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
  9. Ridge

    I won't watch, not because I'm islamaphobic, but I have better things to do.

    December 13, 2011 at 4:00 pm |
  10. Rachel

    What I'm wondering is why there isn't also a focus on all the other companies that also pulled their ads from this show, it's a fairly long list. Also, polygamists are no longer recognized as part of the Mormon church, they're fundamentalists and the Mormon church is against their practices.

    December 13, 2011 at 4:00 pm |
  11. Jack Arnold

    The devils best game “bigotry” plays on. Thanks be to GOD, Say Amen.jack Arnold

    December 13, 2011 at 4:00 pm |
    • Rod C. Venger

      Amen, Jack Arnold.

      December 13, 2011 at 4:04 pm |
    • nuetral

      Yes, Mr. Arnold!

      December 13, 2011 at 4:10 pm |
  12. vintage274

    To the nurse who keeps posting about Muslims and female genital mutiliation. I can guarantee you that none of the women portrayed on the TV show "All-American Muslims" are the victims of female genital mutilation. FGM is not a Muslim problem; it's a tribal and cultural problem. The panel of young people on the show have addressed this a number of times. Until Americans learn to separate Islam from Arab culture (two often intertwined, but entirely different beasts), we will never understand our Muslim neighbors. Ancient tribal cultural practices performed in Muslim communities are not always a function of the religion practiced there. The Taliban is NOT a Muslim organization; it's a cultural phenomenon which also practices Islam in the same way that this bigoted Christian group in Florida is a right-wing, conservative group that practices bigotry and CALLS itself Christianity. They do not represent mainstream Christianity. The Taliban and terrorist groups do not represent mainstream Islam.

    December 13, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
    • BG

      Wow, all that rabid denial must really take a toll on you. Sit down and catch your breath.

      We wouldn't want your hurting yourself during one of your delusional fits

      December 13, 2011 at 4:05 pm |
    • asrael

      Hearfelt thanks, vintage274, for your entirely reasonable commentary...

      December 13, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
    • Lauren

      Yup you are 100% correct and a much needed voice amongst all these bigots. FGM has nothing to do with being Muslim (it's indeed a tribal practice found mostly in east Africa)..people need to seperate political/socio-economic factors of the third wolrd middle eastern countires from the regular, average, American-Muslims. These Muslims have nothing to do with practices of beheadings and jihads, gahhh people need to stop stereotyping.

      December 13, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
  13. mitchyj

    Lowe's is a cowardly company. And one can only hope that muslims and non-muslims will take thier business elsewhere.
    I for one won't spend a dime at a Lowe's store ever.

    December 13, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
  14. Gurgi

    The blindess of some of the people on here is amazing. It is the blind people that will allow the muslims to achieve their religious goal of having the world dominated by sharia law. Google muslim atrocities. some of you blind people will mention atrocities committed by other religions, but I ask you this, how many centuries ago were the acts done? It is what the muslims of today do in the name of their religion that I have a problem with, for example, mutilating women, and treating them as property, not to mention the terrorist acts committed against innocent people on purpose. Yes I know all religions have their idiots, but the numbers of mulsims doing uncivilized things in the name of their religion today is much greater than any other.

    December 13, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
    • vintage274

      The KKK lynched Black men in the South in the name of Christianity within my lifetime. Right wing Christian groups have bombed abortion clinics and murdered doctors in the past 30 years. We shake our heads and ignore the facts when we try to say that only Muslims wreak havoc in the name of religion.

      December 13, 2011 at 4:02 pm |
    • nuetral

      Thanks for clearing this whole mess up! My hat off to Lowe's for stopping the plot of total Muslim domination. Sorry message board, I was waaay of track here. I once was blind and now I see!

      Ok Gurgi, go back under your rock now.

      December 13, 2011 at 4:04 pm |
    • Gurgi

      You are choosing to be blind and not to read/comprehend what I posted. I said yes atrocities have been committed in the name of christianity, though I think you are wrong in your example. I don't think the KKK cited christianity as the reason, anyway, as I said in my posting, google muslim atrocities and you'll see vast differences in numbers of atrocities being committed in the name of islam than any other religion.

      December 13, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
    • Gurgi

      neutral, I've read other things you have posted and you just insult people and are not really worth having a conversation with.

      December 13, 2011 at 4:10 pm |
    • Lauren

      what you speak of, though, is more of a political/socio-economic aspect of countries that happen to also be muslim. iran, iraq, afghanistan; they are third world countries with backwards laws, but they do not reflect the prinicipal ideas of the Muslim religion in developed areas; the same way that poor countries who happen to be Christian, as well, commit atrocities against their own poeple, but it does not reflect the true nature of Christianity in first world nations either. These families are just like you and I, they were born here, go to school, pray, do their homework, eat dinner, and go to work. And if you are Christian or Jewish then you all follow the SAME God (how 'bout that 😉 ) ... which means that you have more in common with them then you realize.

      December 13, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
    • Gurgi

      Yes Lauren, and they danced and celebrated as the towers came down, many were even caught on camera. Remember, "though shall not suffer an infidel to live," (paraphrasing slightly). The more devout the muslim, the scarier they are. At least in christianity there are not so many taking the letter of the bible. There are huge numbers of muslims that take the word of their pedophile prophet literally and as law, even today.

      December 13, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
    • nuetral

      True Gurgi, I poke fun at the idiots. You always seem to resurface.

      December 13, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
    • nuetral

      You are also very wrong there. The KKK and slave trade cited your book for their deeds. Was that a good contribution for you? Fell asleep in history a little, huh buddy?

      December 13, 2011 at 4:38 pm |
    • Lauren

      Yes Gurgi, and the Chiristian Nazis took joy in persecuting millions of jews, and the fred phelps Church dances on the graves of wounded soldiers, and families in this country send their gay sons off to camps because they can't except who they are....much of this was even caught on camera. Remember "Love thy neighbor" (but does that really happen?). The more devout the Christian, the scarier they are, especially how many take the letter of the bible as a factual piece of literature. There are huge numbers of Christians that take the word of their prophet literally and as law, even today.

      December 13, 2011 at 4:41 pm |
    • Lauren

      EDIT: spelling
      except = accept. oops.

      I was also going to add how you seen so fascinated with calling their prophet a "pedofile" that people "listen to" ....Yet ironically, people TODAY listen to the worlds of real pedofile PRIESTS..

      December 13, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
    • Gurgi

      Umm Lauren, the majority of nazis were "officially" atheist (I say that because a lot of the regular people were christian in private). The Fred Phelps church is only a few (a single family) idiots, and if you bothered to really read what I posted, you will see I allowed for the idiots of all religions. It is the "numbers" I was referring to. So many more atrocities committed daily by muslims than the few committed by other idiots.

      December 13, 2011 at 4:56 pm |
  15. vamp

    Muslims have been killing non-muslims for the past 5000 years? I thought Islam came into effect through Mohammed apprx. 1500 years ago. 500 years before Mohammed was Jesus and 500 years before him was Moses and so on. So where does this notion come from that Muslims have been killing non-Muslims for the past 5000 years. Please educate me.

    December 13, 2011 at 3:57 pm |
    • nuetral

      No need vamp, you know it's bs.

      December 13, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
    • Gurgi

      The religion of islam is only about 1500 or so years old, that is when their pedophile prophet put in his appearance. But the Arab people have been fighting for over 4000 years (I guess it could be getting on to 5000, he did not give exact dates). At least that is what the professor taught me in my "history of the middle east" class in college. I guess some people just assume that arabs have always been muslims.

      December 13, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
    • MJMP

      Gurgi you wrote what I was writing, 1600BCE was the birth of the arabs and the jews, and every since they have been fighting over birthright

      December 13, 2011 at 4:15 pm |
    • MJMP

      I call all arabs muslims because that is what they are today, and they have not changed in 4000 years, even though islam is only 1500 years they had their beliefs long before that. Muhammed himself is of the line of Ishmael, brother of Isaac, which is the line of the Jews, the Arabs and Jews have been warring for 4000 years over birthright to who are the true children of arbraham, and the true chosen of God.

      December 13, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
    • MJMP

      Abraham was born 2001 years before Christ, Ishmael 1915 years BC, and Isaac 1901BC, so its been, 3900 years since Isaac was born, and lets give them 50-100 years to start war, so roughly 3800 Yrs of war between arabs and jews. Hows that for Accuracy!!

      December 13, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
    • MJMP

      And moses was born 1576 Years before JESUS!!!!

      December 13, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
  16. TRB

    For Lowe's pulling their ad make's me want to go buy something at Lowe's ....! and for all the attention this is getting is Bull Crap.If there were half the attention paid to the economy more poeple woulb working and not have time for this crap.

    December 13, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
  17. tankette

    The show is pathetic along with the opinion piece. Way more hate crimes are committed against people of the Jewish faith than muslim. Woe is me...the poor Muslim family...cry me a river. Considering how lackluster the entire American-Muslim community has been towards the terrorists that have...uhumm...stolen your religion, I'm surpirsed how responsible most Americans have been towards the Muslim community. Quit your whining, get a life. By the way, I SUPPORT LOWES PULLING ITS ADS.

    December 13, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
  18. Jez

    All of the minorities mentioned above have greatly contributed to America. Muslims just show up and demand rights they never had in their home lands, not to mention throw jihads. No such thing as "All American Muslim". 'they brought this on themselves.

    December 13, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
    • MELTING POT HOTTIE

      Wow is all I can say to your comment. Wow!

      December 13, 2011 at 4:03 pm |
    • Lauren

      Last time I checked this country was founded on the basis of freedom of religion – so why are you assuming that just because these families are muslim, then they are from another country?

      Second, George Washington and Ben Franklin were deists, Thomas Payne was an atheist, and Jefferson whet through the trouble of re-editing the super-natural aspects of the bible. Clearly – you, and many other Americans, know very little about American history; and these great men would be ashamed if they thought that people wanted a Christian theocracy when they founded this country.

      The programs only purpose is to show people how similar we all actuallty are; breed tolerance...you know, good will towards men? These people were born and raised here, and are just as American as anyone else. Just because they are brown and follow a different book then you doesn't make them less human or less of a citizen of this country.

      I'd rather see this than the regular programming about baby breeders (the duggards) who need to have a farm of children to be happy. BUT HEY we've been accepting of that show so I'm sure this one won't hurt.

      December 13, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
  19. FatSean

    Lowes is just a sissified version of Home Depot anyway. If white trash wants to be bigotted, let them be bigotted. But Lowes won't get my window order.

    December 13, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
  20. techie

    This whole country just seems be on a race for indignation...will the left cross before the "racist" right or will the right cross before the "commie, druggie" left? We have a new contender now though, the Muslims have joined in the race. Congratulations Mr. Iftikhar you just took over the lead from Mr. Ruben Navarrette. I do suggest you prepare another article of indignation though Mr. Iftikhar because none of the other sides appear to be letting up anytime soon and you don't want to give up your current lead do you?

    December 13, 2011 at 3:55 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.