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. mouse

    First they came for the jews, then they came for the muslims...don't worry christian's you'll be next and they'll be no one to defend your rights to your religion...........course I paraphrased...

    December 13, 2011 at 4:53 pm |
    • Ranger

      You got it wrong – The Muslims will come after the Jews and then those of the "Book"

      Read your Koran

      December 13, 2011 at 4:56 pm |
    • PhillyRN

      Allow me to have a Muslim cleric explain it very quickly in about 20 seconds:

      http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/3227.htm

      And that my friends is Muslim reality TV.

      December 13, 2011 at 4:58 pm |
    • Jim Stanek

      @Ranger- read YOUR Bible. The God of the Old Testament is a Bronze-age baby-killing sadist who likes to murder women and children and pronounce curses on his people.

      December 13, 2011 at 5:14 pm |
  2. Spade'a'Spade

    Can't tolerate anyone who kills in the name of their relgion,iIslam is the only religion that is currently killing in the name of religion

    December 13, 2011 at 4:53 pm |
    • Medallon

      Ohh, right, like the Serbs did with the Bosnian muslims, yeah that's it. The way the anti abortion bombers kill doctors and their employees, yeah, that's it............

      December 13, 2011 at 4:56 pm |
    • PhillyRN

      The serbs are not calling for mayhem now to install a Muslim caliphate:

      http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/3227.htm

      And that my friends is real Muslim reality television!

      December 13, 2011 at 5:04 pm |
    • JMG

      I remember when White people killed Black people in the name of White purity...and so, what is your take on that? Should we cast out all White people and label them all too?

      December 13, 2011 at 5:06 pm |
  3. Ranger

    When are they showing the Honor Killing Episodes ? Anybody Know?

    December 13, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
    • colbertreport

      Exactly! Right afterwards we should hold a good old fashioned Koran burning! God bless America, and no one else!

      December 13, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
    • Observer

      colbertreport,

      Might as well burn the Bible too since the radical Muslims are practicing much of what God commdanded in the Bible when he set up the original rules for mankind. Read a Bible sometime.

      December 13, 2011 at 4:57 pm |
    • Jim Stanek

      @Ranger- I believe they're showing the "Honor Killing episodes" right after they air a classicly trained actor reading some verses from the Old Testament:

      "Thus saith the LORD of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt. Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass." (I Samuel 15:2-3)

      "If a man be found lying with a woman married to an husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her; then ye shall bring them both out unto the gate of that city, and ye shall stone them with stones that they die; the damsel, because she cried not, being in the city; and the man, because he hath humbled his neighbour's wife: so thou shalt put away evil from among you." (Deuteronomy 22:23-24)

      If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them: then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place; and they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard. And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.
      (Deuteronomy 21:18-21)

      "When men strive together one with another, and the wife of the one draweth near for to deliver her husband out of the hand of him that smiteth him, and putteth forth her hand, and taketh him by the [testicles]: then thou shalt cut off her hand, thine eye shall not pity her." (Deuteronomy 25:11-12)

      December 13, 2011 at 5:20 pm |
  4. call me a bigot

    I dare an american try to broadcast a reality tv show in a muslim country or publish an article like this there....we would be killed.

    December 13, 2011 at 4:51 pm |
    • J.S. Morales

      That is a great point that the Left consistently misses.

      December 13, 2011 at 4:53 pm |
    • PhillyRN

      Here's how Muslims depict Muslims in their "reality show" called a sermon to the Muslim faithful:

      What's that he's saying about killing the Jews? Why is he saying that the end times can't come until Muslims rise up and kill the Jews? Those are in the Hadiths, or interpretations of the Koran he's quoting, but he manages to get a few "death to America" statements in there:

      http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/3227.htm

      My, Muslim reality TV in Muslim nations sure does not resemble American reality TV showing Muslims.

      How do the liberals account for it?

      December 13, 2011 at 4:56 pm |
    • Medallon

      Exactly, let's follow the examples set by those countries and torture anyone who disagrees with us, I mean if they do it, then it must be ok?. Seriously!!! What a maroon (check it in Wikipedia).

      December 13, 2011 at 4:58 pm |
    • Observer

      PhillyRN,

      So are you PRETENDING that the series didn't show real American Muslims? Are you saying the series was fake?

      December 13, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
    • J.S. Morales

      @Medallon, the point is to not close your eyes to the obvious. The Left constantly overreacts to anything that Christians support while treating Muslims like they can do no wrong. Completely ignoring that this country was founded by Christians while most countries ruled by Muslims are full of oppression. Yet somehow we're the bad guys? Everyone is all for treating Muslims fairly, what we are not for is American courts using sharia law, that isn't equal, it's the exact opposite of it.

      December 13, 2011 at 5:02 pm |
    • JMG

      @JSMorales

      Wait, wait, wait....so now we are back to Christian values in this country? Where in the Christian Bible does it say we cannot tolerate Muslim faith? And furthermore, if you are so true to this, then what it with this uproar of anti-religion in a Christian founded country? Atheists should be the new "Islam" for their opinions, right? Or are you just piggy-backing off of Christianity to be a bigot? If not, why even bring Christianity into this unless it was because you were speaking in terms of what it should stand FOR, not what you think it should stand against! Just silly conversations from a group of silly people who pass this silliness onto our children...which is the BIGGEST problem in this Country, not what any other religious groups believe!

      December 13, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
    • Church of Suicidal

      You're a bigot. The fact that other countries don't have our freedoms is somehow an excuse to remove any depiction of other cultures from our airwaves? Maybe that's the country you want to live in. Unfortunately for you, this is America and I get a vote as well.

      December 13, 2011 at 5:17 pm |
    • Medallon

      JS Morales, please tell me, which state, county, or city, has sharia law as their law....

      December 13, 2011 at 6:51 pm |
  5. Chingus

    When all the muslims become good christians they are welcome. Otherwise get the helll and gone out of our country. Mohammed was a dork.

    December 13, 2011 at 4:51 pm |
    • Ranger

      I don't know if Mohammad was a "dork" but he was a proven Pedophile

      December 13, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
    • Jim Stanek

      @Ranger- your ignorance is astounding. Calliing someone a "proven pedophile" implies that they were a pedophile by the legal classification of their culture. By today's American legal definition you would be correct. But unless you are willing to classify a substantial portion of the God-fearing men in both the Old Testament and the New as "pedophiles" you should refrain from imposing your current cultural mores on the cultures of history. If ignorance is bliss, you must be on an constant emotional high.

      December 13, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
  6. mouse

    No biggie....I wouldn't go to lows before I certainly won't go now!!!!

    December 13, 2011 at 4:51 pm |
  7. J.S. Morales

    Meh, companies pull their advertising from controversial places all the time. I doubt this guy would complain about the advertisers who pulled off Glenn Beck. I can't say anything about the show b/c I haven't seen it. However, it is clear to anyone that does research on the topic that many (not all Muslims) do want to impose Sharia, though the methods differ. All you have to do is look over at some of the stuff coming out of Europe to see where we are headed.

    Also funny, this guy is totally right, I would consider Sister Wives a propaganda of a sort and hope the show is pulled off the air. Personally, I don't watch it.

    December 13, 2011 at 4:50 pm |
  8. Jim Stanek

    @Sunny- funny, because he wasn't talking about Jesus. American Christian fundamentalism/evangelicalism is hardly, if at all, based on the teachings of Jesus. I highly doubt that Jesus would join one of those churches. They quietly pick and choose the verses out the Bible that support their prejudices and preconceived notions of the world, and build entire, straw-man theologies out of these few verses. Were someone to quote contradicting Bible verses back to them, their entire theology would crumble. Please don't align yourself with ignorant bigots by posting the kind of statement you did.

    @Ranger- apparently you're one of the pathetic millions of Americans who have been hoodwinked by the slick teachings of charlatans such as Chuck Missler, Hal Lindsay, and Robert Morey who do nothing but pump ignorant hatred into the hearts and minds of uneducated evangelicals. You've been adequately equipped to make unsubstantiated personal attacks on people and religions that you know next to nothing about. You should invest the time to truly read and understand the Koran and the Islamic faith before you make such uneducated statements next time, not just spout what you heard in Calvary Chapel or some other den of vipers. Let's face it, the "God" of the Old Testament is a Bronze-aged baby-killer who COMMANDS his adherents to kill innocent women and children, and to commit countless atrocities. But you never hear Chuck Smith preaching on that, do you?

    December 13, 2011 at 4:50 pm |
  9. colbertreport

    Bravo Lowes! I say it's a good start! Next we should kick out the rest of the darkies what with their funny talk and smelly food. While we're at it lets get rid of all the italians and irish and everybody else that pays homage to the guy with the pointy hat in Rome. Then we'll be left with only the real Americans! This is the land of the free and home of the brave. God bless America, and no one else!

    December 13, 2011 at 4:49 pm |
    • Wilson James

      I'm of German extraction. Can I stay? Please?

      December 13, 2011 at 4:51 pm |
    • Medallon

      Bravo, well said, we should kick everyone out, that is except those from the PreCambrian period, they can stay.........

      December 13, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
    • Jim Stanek

      lol. I love the quote from Blazing Saddles: Olson Johnson: All right... we'll give some land to the n*ggers and the ch*nks. But we don't want the Irish!

      Seriously, bigotry is still alive and well today, and flourishing in the United States.

      December 13, 2011 at 4:57 pm |
    • Gurgi

      @Jim Stanek, like hollywood could get away with making Blazing Saddles today. I saw it rerun the other day on TV and it was cut so badly it wasn't really worth watching.

      December 13, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
    • Jim Stanek

      @Gurgi. I agree. If they made the film today, people like Ranger here would take it all too seriously.

      December 13, 2011 at 5:52 pm |
  10. Tim Roberson II

    darn muslims up to no good

    December 13, 2011 at 4:48 pm |
  11. the_dude

    People endorse this because otherwise it feels like we are forcefed diversity if we want it or not. Just as the gays have learned, you cannot legislate acceptance no matter what.

    December 13, 2011 at 4:47 pm |
    • RTFM

      Or rather that you can't fix stupid with legislation...

      December 13, 2011 at 4:50 pm |
    • jane

      boo...hiss...cant say i like your comment

      December 13, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
    • Medallon

      Hmm, see that is the point, its not forcing diversity, its allowing someone to live with dignity, everyone should have that right, specially if they are living peacefully. Can you get it?

      December 13, 2011 at 5:05 pm |
    • Jim Stanek

      Why don't we just limit television viewing to I Love Lucy, the 3 Stooges, and football. Oh wait, football might have some of "the gays" in it, or maybe a Muslim. Seriously, what ignorance.

      December 13, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
  12. RTFM

    The only thing that has me chuckling here is how so many far right Christianist organizations name themselves. "Florida Family Association". Spin spin spin..."if we say the word "family" no one can touch us- who can be against family?"

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

      You'll get a laugh out of how Gaza TV depicts Muslims:

      http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/3227.htm

      My, it sure is different from how TLC's version goes.

      December 13, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
  13. jschau

    Anyone who is religious is a bigot.

    December 13, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
    • Wilson James

      Interesting thought, and probably correct in a sense of definition. I guess there are levels, or degrees of bigotry, which could be applied to sports fans as well. But these far right wing bigot are at the top of any scale, along with the Taliban.

      December 13, 2011 at 4:50 pm |
  14. PhillyRN

    Here's a 30 second clip of Muslim TV from Gaza. WOW, Muslim TV in Muslim countries sure is different from American TV depicting Muslims! How is that possible?

    http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/3227.htm

    Looking forward to your comments.

    December 13, 2011 at 4:45 pm |
    • nuetral

      You mean America doesn't own the airwaves everywhere else? How about a 30 second clip of the mach to Selma? Would you choose that to represent this country? Naaaaah, now you gotta look that up Philly.

      December 13, 2011 at 4:49 pm |
    • nuetral

      Wait, Gurgi will add to this........... Where are ya buddy? He's on your side.

      December 13, 2011 at 4:53 pm |
    • Medallon

      Yeah, because Muslims in Gaza are the same as Muslim Americans in America, just like Italians in Italy are the same as Italian Americans (mm, wait did you see Jersey shore), People in Ireland are the same as Irish Americans, Africans are the same a African American. Come on, think, please.............

      December 13, 2011 at 5:08 pm |
  15. JMG

    I really hate situations like this, not solely because Lowe's created MORE controversy by removing their ads than any controversy they stated would be attached to the show, but the improper use of the term "American"! I mean, America was a place where being born here and Black meant you were an animal. The whole being an "American" thing meant nothing. American born women weren't equal. Now, if you say Christmas, Atheist born on this soil are against it, but a decade ago, anything non-Christian was anti-American because we were all founded under a Christian God...I mean, most people are just about being a part of groups and oppressing or discriminating against anyone who doesn't fit into them. That in itself is supposed to be anti-American...because this was a melting pot of races, ethnicities and cultures. So again, what exactly IS an American? These people are born here and practice a religion practiced by millions in a country that swears it is about equal rights and freedom and the response is very much a typical "American" response....

    December 13, 2011 at 4:44 pm |
  16. Ranger

    No such thing as an "American Muslim" or a French Muslim or a British Muslim - They owe allegience to no country – only their "Allah" – they will not assimilate or join the "melting pot"
    v/r

    December 13, 2011 at 4:44 pm |
    • Wilson James

      And you know this? How?

      I never really act on things like this but my small comapnay does a minimal amout of business with Lowes, around $2500 a year. We moved that business today to another supplier. Why? Caving in to any hate organization, right or left show a lack of spine.

      December 13, 2011 at 4:47 pm |
    • Jim Stanek

      @Ranger- how kind of you to describe your bigotry and ignorance of another culture and try to force them and everyone else to accept the "truth" of your less-than-childish generalization of their beliefs.

      December 13, 2011 at 6:09 pm |
  17. CJ

    it's not bigotry and it's not racism. This should be obvious! It's about Ideas.

    Anyone who makes truth claims about morality and nature based on demonstrably false myths –like those of Christianity, Judaism and Islam–should be feared by differing degree.

    Thanks to Science and Reason, secularism has brought about reformation in Christianity and Judaism. It's not nearly enough though, and there's still a ways to go, but Islam is much farther behind. It's Islamophobia. And Islamophobia is rational.

    December 13, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
  18. Kalid

    I have a question for all those who put up remarks supporting Lowe's decision. African Americans and Latin Americans make up by far the largest portion of our prison population in the US. If there was a show on TV (and of course there are) that showed Latin or African Americans as "normal" Americans, and a group wrote to advertisors of that show and asked them to remove their advertising because it tries to show these groups in a better light than they should be, what would your response be? Just as it is ridiculous to lump all African or Latin Americans, or for that matter any large group of individuals together, it is ridiculous to lump all Muslims together. 9/11, never forget, but don't let it turn you into a bigot.

    December 13, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
    • PhillyRN

      I'm only asking how American TV depicting Muslims is so different from Muslim TV depicting Muslims:

      http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/3227.htm

      This is a short clip from a sermon like any other in Gaza on 12/2/11. It's current. It's topical. How is it so very different from the The Learning Channel's view? What do you think?

      December 13, 2011 at 4:48 pm |
    • Patrick

      Latino and Black are races not religions your argument is horribly flawed.

      December 13, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
    • Medallon

      PhillyRN – give it a break already. They are american muslims of course they will be different

      December 13, 2011 at 5:11 pm |
  19. PhillyRN

    Apparently fighting the West and installing a Muslim caliphate like there was in the middle ages is not part of being an American Muslim even though millions of Muslims believe this all over the world.

    I'll let Brother Sheik Amahd Abu Quddum explain it in his own words:

    http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/3231.htm

    See how TV in the Muslim world depicting Muslims is so much different from TV in the Western world depicting Muslims?

    December 13, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
  20. Rachell

    I hope you all realize that this is ALL about money and nothing else. The companies that have pulled their advertising from All American Muslim during the CHRISTMAS season were pressured to do so from the same organization (FFA) who drums up all kinds of fundraising $$$ from the holy rollers with Teh War on Christmas nonsense every single year. Now companies that give in to this boycott will be placed on the "nice" list for good God fearing Murikans to support. It's pretty transparent. FFA + corporations exploit the ugly bigotry of uninformed ignorant people = $$$$

    December 13, 2011 at 4:41 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.