home
RSS
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. Coty

    Hmm letter writing vs suicide bombers. Haha just kidding calm down. No but seriously my wife is Muslim. I would love for TLC to come chronicle the past year of my life. Her father has made multiple false statements to police from: she's being held against her will, she's been drugged, she stole all kinds of stuff including a virus from the laboratory she works at and claimed she was gonna use it to kill the whole family...all 16 of them. Did I mention not a single person in the family has a job and that they use multiple address so they can get more social security and benefits? He's also is responsible for the death of one of his other daughters husbands but it was deemed self defense. Once you know this man, you know it was not self defense. It was setup. The police knew it too but they couldn't prove it. So if you wanna talk about what's not fair...let's talk about the fact they profile only the "good" Muslims.

    December 13, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
    • Kevin

      Why do Americans have to seperate themselves, or allow themselves to be seperated by a – hyphen??

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

      You don't read much Coty. Browse some of these links and discover the atrocities every else. Why do you idiots focus on one group and expose their dirt? You shouldn't throw stones in your house.

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

      Kevin – because this is a country of immigrants, and people are proud of their heritage. If you're not Native American, you're an immigrant. I'm Norwegian-American – you have a problem with that?

      December 13, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
    • Homer Simpson

      Damn Norwegians... Go back to Ogdenville!
      D'oh!

      December 13, 2011 at 6:07 pm |
  2. Rik

    Bottom line: There are Muslims then there are Muslim extremists. The families portrayed on this show are good Muslims who live within their religious views just as do Christians, Jews, Hindus, etc. Unfortunately, there are people who view Muslims in a negative light due to these Muslim extremists. I know of at least two American Muslims who gave up their lives defending and protecting our country. You can find their names at the 911 memorial in NYC. I am very disappointed in Lowe's. They have given in to bigotry but have done something even better: Identified themselves as a company ran and easily influenced by bigots. Additionally, this has shed light on this small "Christian" group in Florida who will forever be referred to as untrue Christians and bigots. Know the bigots by face helps us identify them and segregate them. Lookout Home Depot, you now have my undivided attention.

    December 13, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
  3. Slim Jenkins

    Religion breeds hate.

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

      Amen. Pun intended.

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

      As someone brought up in a "Christian" household–I WOULD AGREE!!

      December 13, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
  4. Kevin

    Sorry; I can't disagree more with the gist of this article. While I deplore reality TV in general, ones that concentrate on one ethnic group in particular are even more exploaitative. I applaud Lowes for pulling the ads, and I wish nothing but all "Hyphenated"- Americans simply consider themselves "Americans" with fanfare, heritage pride, or religious convictions.

    In essence, we just don't need this show, especially when it pushes a false virtue!

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

      I ment to say "with NO fanfare"

      fat-finger typing

      December 13, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
  5. me

    It's ok to hate Muslims because Jews say so.

    December 13, 2011 at 4:17 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      And it's OK to hate the Jews because the.... well just about every culture they've ever encountered say so.
      I think the Jewish people are hated simply because they've kept their cultural identi.ty intact after thousands of years of attempted genocide.
      I once heard the majority of Jewish holidays summed as "They tried to kill us, but we survived. Hooray!"

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

      Doc: That and "Next year in Jerusalem..."

      December 13, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
  6. wholesomegal

    lol. A muslim writing an opinion column on this subject. Right. I think I'll skip this one and go read something that wont make my head explode.

    December 13, 2011 at 4:17 pm |
    • Aletheya

      That wouldn't take much. Better stick to the comic pages.

      December 13, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
  7. vamp

    If you analyze these posts all you see is us blaming each other. One animosity towards another.

    December 13, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
  8. Actually Smart.

    But can it run Crysis?

    December 13, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
  9. Jo

    I think you're overreacting. Lowe's simply wants to stay out of the controversy that is brewed by you, right-wing and left-wing groups, an others. They simply want to be neutral, and not be in a position that could be perceived as bias. It looks bad pulling an ad, but I think in the long run they will take less political spotlight. It's not a statement for or against anyone, including Muslims. You should try to understand their shoes, not just your own.

    December 13, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
    • Aletheya

      No, having once placed the ad and then pulling it in response to the complaints of bigots, it is moral cowardice. Nice try, time for a remedial course in morality.

      December 13, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
    • paul abbott

      This country is Chrino = Christian in name only.

      December 13, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
    • Aletheya

      Paul – good one!

      December 13, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
  10. Red

    I thought the Muslim-American show was some kind of propaganda too, that's what I understand it's purpose to be. I don't think it's lunacy. They do have other religious shows on TV, in fact my local programming shows a Catholic Mass on Sundays for people who can't go to church. That's what they made the dial (channel changer) for – for the Bigots. You can't force Lowe's to advertise during any particular show, it's really up to them where they want to spend their money. If a show is failing they have every right to pull out. I never watched the Muslim show and I think those are the ugliest kids I've ever seen and I wish they would stop showing that picture at CNN.

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

      C'mon Red, who's really the ugly one? You are, aren't you.

      December 13, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
    • TJ

      Poor, poor Red. We can only imagine what you and your "breed" look like. The whole point of the article is that small minded and fanatical people (like yourself), and organizations like the FFA should never have the power to impose or force intolerance
      of peoples ideals, religion or life choices. Lowes can do what they want, that is their choice, but to do so at the whim of others
      shows their own small mindedness. I for one will be going to the "Depot". Goodbye Lowes.

      December 13, 2011 at 4:33 pm |
  11. steve

    First they came and took the gypsies away, and none said a thing. Then then they took the old away and none said a thing. Later they came and took the weak away and none complained. Then they took the Jews away and none stopped them. Then one day they came and took me away, and there was none left to complain. Thanks Lowes for giving more power to a minority of ill minded people. Adolf

    December 13, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
    • paul abbott

      These "Christian" groups are full of fear and hate. Eff Lowe's.

      December 13, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
    • KillYourTelevision

      I guess having your favorite show taken away is on par with having your neighbors taken away.

      December 13, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
  12. Real

    GOOGLE Muslim Atrocities or go to youtube and watch the Muslims in London saying they will take over and kill if you don;t convert. Such anti bigots, aren't they?

    Sow as Hitler. The Muslims make Hitler look kind..

    December 13, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
    • Nonimus

      Interesting,
      searching "Muslim Atrocities" returns "About 7,260,000 results (0.08 seconds)"
      while
      searching "Christian Atrocities" returns "About 8,700,000 results (0.30 seconds)"

      December 13, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
    • LMAO

      Google Christian atrocities, or any other major religion atrocities for that matter.

      Moron.

      December 13, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
    • paul abbott

      Christian atrocities are numerous all through the ages and into the present day. Most all of TV is propaganda to get people to buy stuff they don't need.

      December 13, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
  13. vamp

    So all you are doing is cherry picking against Muslims.

    December 13, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
  14. Nix

    Lowes gave in to intimidation/extortion by the Christian Right. It is that christian right bigotry towards other beliefs and non-believers that is the issue. It is a shame that Lowes let the bullies win, but they have to make a business decision. This nation is NOT a christian nation, but rather one of many beliefs/non-beliefs. All in all, this Christian intimidation pales in comparison to that practiced by the Muslim fundamentalists where one must fear violence. Doesn't make it right, tho

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

      Oh, please. It's about freedom of choice. They chose, you disagree, now you are crying.

      December 13, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
    • Patrick

      Read more than just this biased article. Muslims also complained.

      -Atheist

      December 13, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
  15. Aletheya

    I read one page of comments – 25 total, 20 expressing hatred toward muslims. "Love your neighbor as yourself." If you claim to follow the one who said that, you condemn yourselves with your words of hatred toward muslims. It really is just as simple as that. Best spend some time on self-reflection, while you still have time.

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

      Or what?

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

      "Best spend some time on self-reflection, while you still have time."

      No kidding! Especially seeing as how time is running out with the impending rapture an all..

      >..<

      December 13, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
    • Aletheya

      Patrick & LMAO – I'm not christian. I simply point out the hypocrisy of those who say they are, and then preach hatred. As someone else here noted, this country is "Chrino" – Christian in Name Only.

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

    I will fight the muslim way of life and culture to prevent its' spread through North America and the world. Yes there are 'nice' Muslims who on the surface do not pose a threat to us but they will always support their more radical peers over supporting traditional values of freedom and peace.

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

      I get concerned when I hear that groups of people "always" behave in a certain way. That in itself is bigotry.

      December 13, 2011 at 4:17 pm |
    • nuetral

      Go for it Scot! Gather up your friends from your mother's basement, pick up some of the bigots from this board and fight to return this country to its rightful owners! Oh, oh wait.... New plan: Pick up your loser friends and fight for the country you built from the soil up, with your blood sweat and.... ahhh, nope the .... what are you upset about again?

      December 13, 2011 at 4:17 pm |
    • paul abbott

      Yeah sure you will. Talk is cheap.

      December 13, 2011 at 4:33 pm |
  17. dfds

    aren't all immigrants just perpetuating the thievery of the Native Americans land? aren't Muslims, Asians, Mexicans and who ever else just continuing to steal the rightful owners of that piece of land your apartment or house is on? I don't think anyone can say anything about anything unless its from their home country. The Native Americans are the only ones that have a Voice in this country, and yet we have never listened to it. We just continue...

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

      No humans are native to the Americas. Their ancestors are Asian. Read a book.

      December 13, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
    • Nonimus

      We are all Africans.

      December 13, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
    • Jason K

      You're exactly right. I believe I'm well within my NATIVE "american" rights when I say the rest of you should all GTFO. But since you've been here so long, and they're so many of you...how about you just pay us rent? Say... $1 trillion a year Combined for USA and Canada.

      December 13, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
  18. 2cents4free

    Is there anyone that has brought more suffering to muslims around the world than Osama?

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

      Yes, his name is George W. Bush.

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

      Good Rik. Can't buy sh1t with 2cents anyway.

      December 13, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
  19. harvey

    All the energy we spend thinking about superficial physical or cultural differences along with beliefs in any god are proof that humans are only slightly brighter than lizards.

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

      This just in: lizards everywhere deeply offended by comparison with humans...

      December 13, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
    • Actually Smart.

      It's Geico, not Gecko

      December 13, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
  20. fastball

    No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the average American.

    December 13, 2011 at 4:07 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @fastball
      Bread and circuses, my friend.

      December 13, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37
Advertisement
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.