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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. nwatcher

    Let me see: Blacks Latinos and Jews do not adhere to a code or set of values (religion) that conflicts with the structure, design and function of our nation. Islam does. (So does glbt but that is for the next opinion page designed to inflame and produce idiotic posts here...)

    December 13, 2011 at 12:09 pm |
    • QS

      I see one idiotic post...and yes, it's yours.

      December 13, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
  2. Jennifer

    And we wonder how terrorism begins? It begins with the mantra that there is one almighty correct “way” and everyone else is wrong. Idiots like those that made the bigoted statements on Lowe's Facebook page, as well as Lowe’s caving to the mass-zombie-idiots of our world make me embarrassed to be part of the human race. Amen Sam & James….. and hey idiots, turn your t.v. off and read a book (actually more importantly, read many books, with many views, on many subjects)!!! Nothing is black and white in life….there are always shades of grey.

    December 13, 2011 at 12:08 pm |
    • Michael

      I really, really really want some mormon and jewish groups to start a letter-writing campaign complaining about overtly christian tv shows, and demand that advertisers pull out. That would be simply wonderful and hilarious.

      December 13, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
  3. GoldenLady

    Arsalan,

    Welcome to America.

    Signed,
    An American Minority Just Like You

    December 13, 2011 at 12:08 pm |
  4. scutter

    If many of the comments shared here are the opinion of even a monumental fraction of this country, the U.S. better wake up... in the '70s the hot button issues of the day were discussed blatantly and brilliantly on "All In The Family" and "Mash." What happened to dialogue and public education in favor or ignorant black & white analogies and stereotypes? I don't want any of the people saying F- YOU to the brave journalist who shared his viewpoint representing me, although I presume most of the heinous comments came from white non-Muslims. We're simply not from the same cloth, and neither are all Muslims, or gays, or Jewish people or.... Give your neighbors a chance, because all of these groups are represented in the neighborhoods we all live in and many serve this country in better ways than most Americans never will.

    December 13, 2011 at 12:08 pm |
    • Michael

      Its because the almighty dollar has become the ultimate religion, and corporations, who are now real people according to the supreme court, dont dare do anything that might cost them a few of the holy wafers of money.

      December 13, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
  5. LostinSLC

    I have Muslim friends, but they know I am opinionated as well. My push is that Muslims refuse to come out against their radical brethren and in most cases support their terrorist acts and this is why Americans no longer are "open" to Islam. When Timothy McVeigh bombed Oklahoma as a Christian, the country of Christians came out in full force condemning him and making sure justice was served. Yet when a bombing takes place Muslims take to the streets and cheer the carnage. The morale difference is what causes the rift in this country. Until Muslims actually fight back against their radical arm of Islam, I cannot support their stance as a peaceful religion.

    December 13, 2011 at 12:08 pm |
    • Sublime619

      Obviously you don't do much research. Simple exercise. Go to google, type "Muslims condemn terrorism." You will get over 3 million hits. All mainstream Muslim organizations have condemned terrorism and several fatwa have come out and are translated that do the same. Before you make claims, do your research.

      December 13, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
    • John Wiebold

      Well said. If the Muslims want the Americans and the Veterans that fought for all Americans freedoms to show them respect, then they need to denounce all if the terrorist attacks. They need to "help" the American soldier point out terrorists that they know,because they have blended into the public, and cause guerilla warfare. What you said hits the spot.

      December 13, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
  6. Bobby

    Writers like this forget what country they are in. As long as it is legal, we can do what we want in the US. We shop where we want to. We worship where we want to. We eat what we want to. We hate what we want to. To each his own. If folks want to hate muslims, it is sad, but they can do it and no one can do a thing about it. This is the US, not Iran.

    December 13, 2011 at 12:08 pm |
  7. ipmutt

    Lot's of bigotry on both sides of this. It;s a shame. Even so, Lowes has every right to decide where it spends promotional dollars and should not expect to be hijacked by anyone. What we do have is some poor decisions on Lowes part getting in and out of this, Also some pretty poor decisions on mainstream media's part to fan flames and generate low grade entertainment.

    December 13, 2011 at 12:08 pm |
  8. The Mad Klingon

    Smooth move Lowe's. I wasn't even aware you were sponsoring "All-American Muslim". Now I learn because "pressure" of some Christian group sadly based here in Tampa, you decide to pull your ads. A cowardly, backwards and perhaps even bigoted decision.

    December 13, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
  9. Wayne

    Good for Lowes! I will try to spend more there this Christmas season. Also, kudos to the Floridians who undertook the email campaign.

    December 13, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
    • David Duke

      yea...I completely agree with you Wayne. It's great to see that hate and ignorance can still get things done in America.

      December 13, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
  10. Ken C

    Does this surprise ANYONE that Lowe's would pull their ads? Lowe's is well known for being a bigoted corporation that tries to hide their racial discrimination from the feds....I say we boycott Lowe's, Home Depot is way better anyway.

    December 13, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
  11. Nellie

    To add, I've never watched this show, but I think I will start! Thanks Lowe's!

    December 13, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
  12. Just Me

    Previous commentators are correct. Lowes has the right to advertise as they choose. I have the right to shop where I choose. As an AMERICAN jew, I feel what they are doing is WRONG. Condemming all Muslims, as posters are doing, is WRONG. Taking my business elsewhere will mean nothing to Lowes, but at least I will do what I can do.

    December 13, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
  13. Trey McCallie

    #1 Lowe's has the right to make whatever decision they deem necessary in the best interest of their business.

    #2 All those groups you mentioned did not attack our country and kill 3,000 of my fellow citizens, then celebrate their accomplishment AND are actively trying to plot ways to destroy our way of life.

    December 13, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
    • excitizen

      So, according to your ignorant way of thinking, all blacks are drug dealers, all latinos are illegal immigrants and all gays have AIDS. You and people of similar extremely low I.Q. are what is wrong with this country. You should feel shame for your ignorance; instead you advertise it! Christians who have absolutely NO IDEA about what is and is not christian. Sickening!

      December 13, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
    • rjl

      wait... you saw THESE people from TLC attack our country and celebrate? shouldn't they be arrested then?

      December 13, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
    • Matt

      What about Timothy McVeigh or Hitler...You can't paint all people with a broad brush. Shame on you.

      December 13, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
    • MightyMayte

      Trey McCallie:

      1. You are right. Lowe's can do as they please about where they advertise. That is why we live in a FREE country where nobody tells us what we should/shouldn't do. They, however, will need to bear the consequences of their bigoted decision. I for one, feel FREE to choose Home Depot from now on because I don't stand for closed-mindedness, bigotry and pure idiocy.

      2. You need to brush up on your history, darling. What exactly do you think is an "American"? You don't think that American Muslims were also victims in the attacks you mention? And don't you remember segregation in this country? White people murdered black people just because of their color so don't come and say that a particular group targets another without referencing other times in the history of this country.

      December 13, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
    • excitizen

      Trey creates a new profile with my name and tries to defame me – cnn moderators can see from where the posts come. Nice try ignorant bigot!

      December 13, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
    • Love Of Ignorance

      Trey,

      Like it or not, American Muslums are "your fellow citizens" too.

      December 13, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
  14. RapidOne

    Christian Fundamentalists = AMERICAN TALIBAN

    Lol, morons and hypocrites...

    December 13, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
    • Wayne

      Have you been asleep since 9/11? You are the moron.

      December 13, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
    • Trey McCallie

      Yes I've been asleep.
      I know I missed some Klan meetings, but you said you'd take notes for me.
      Hey why are you calling me a moron?

      December 13, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
  15. Daddy2010

    No.

    December 13, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
  16. Daves

    This is a very partial story. Partial in that the author only presents half the facts. The rest of the facts are that this show has generated a lot of negative email to both the producers and the advertisers. That email is spread across the spectrum of liberals, conservatives, muslims and christians. To point to one group that is generating about 25% of the negative emails and blame it all on them is an attempt to purposely mislead people. Only reason I can see more of the truth is that this is the 4th news story I have read on this, all 4 apparently from different points of view.

    December 13, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
    • num1k

      Of course the author was partial. This is an opinion piece.

      December 13, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
    • just me2012

      of course it's partial, it's an editorial.

      December 13, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
  17. Chris

    It is wrong the way Muslims are being treated in this country. However, until the Muslims but a choke hold on the wanna be terrorist's this type of action will continue. Of course personally I see organized religion as the downfall of modern society and wouldn't have problem if the Muslim, Baptists, Catholics, etc all just went away.

    December 13, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
    • QS

      The only reason you think they need to put a choke hold on THEIR wannabe terrorists is because you have bought into the rhteoric that all Muslims are terrorists and are out to destroy America.....but as you point out, every religion does this, you being an American just tend to think the commercialized religion of this country is somehow less harmful to society.

      December 13, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
    • Love Of Ignorance

      yea,...your right Chris.
      And until Christains put a choke hold on the KKK, Skin Heads, the Arian Brotherhood (all claim to be Christain organization) we should take them seriouly either.

      December 13, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
  18. jacob

    I think it's wonderful that the Muslim American policeman is wearing a Star of David. If only everyone could be so open-minded.

    December 13, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
    • Greg s

      Only on television never in real life!

      December 13, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
    • Love Of Ignorance

      In real live, he lives up to tGreg S' sterotype he learn from listening to Rush and Glen.

      December 13, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
  19. Kevin McFayden

    It's about time someone stood up to Muslims and the violent hatred they represent! Read the Koran and you will see how it calls on Muslims to practice "divine deception" and pretend to be peaceful while at the same time resenting those who are outside the Muslim community. Watch the behading videos, murder of innocents in Dagestan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, the Middle East, and the East Coast on 911. Islam, which combines religon and political ideology, is nothing more than justification of murder through faith. Time to expose Islam for what it is and kick every single one of them out of the U.S. before it turns into another Londonistan! I'll definitely be shopping at Lowe's.

    December 13, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
    • johann1965

      Go away.

      December 13, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
    • Johnny

      Are not there similar passages in the Bible?

      December 13, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
    • QS

      "Islam, which combines religon and political ideology, is nothing more than justification of murder through faith."

      Christianity, which combines religion and political ideology, is nothing more than justification of bigotry and discrimination disguised as faith.

      There, fixed. 🙂

      December 13, 2011 at 12:09 pm |
    • Shawn N

      grab history book and look up the crusades, the war in croatia, WW1 the list goes on and on every faith based group has led or participated in some form of warfare so know one should judge an entire faith on the actions of a few.

      December 13, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
    • wow!!

      I'm not surprised you would make such an ignorant statement when you can't even spell. Behading? I bet no one takes you seriously at all, huh?

      December 13, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
    • Johnny

      I TOTALLY agree...Islam is nothing but an old curtain wearing form of the Mafia. Do as they say, when they say it or be killed. Have 10 kids each; breed the non muslims out of existence. This was 1 of Yassar Arafat's and Louis Farrakan's main teachings. Their radicals do the killing, but the rest are scared poop less to do anything because the rads will come and kill their whole families. Anyone watching Egypt? Their "new" government is putting in "sin-free" vacation spots along the coasts where 100's of thousands of non muslims used to vacation each year. Men only beaches, women only beaches; just ridiculous. Guess what? They just killed the tourism industry in Egypt. Leave the middle east to them, but when the Chinese need oil, they will just come take it. They don't play PC games and never worry about collateral damage.

      December 13, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
  20. Peter

    Religion, by it's very nature is divisive. The only thing preventing world peace is religion. World Peace will never be able to exist as long as Religion is around... because my imaginary overlord will always be better than yours.

    December 13, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
    • QS

      Ah yes, religion....the world' ultimate dividing force.

      December 13, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
    • Love Of Ignorance

      Religion...the world oldest profession....Hey Mr. Pope...why is the vactican the richest country in the world per capitia? Is Jesus ok with you living a life of luxury while millions starve to death?

      What a freaking scam

      December 13, 2011 at 12:28 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.