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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. Helloyo

    this is why Christian's will be the first to enter the gates of Hell

    December 13, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
    • ROBIN

      lol because Lowes pulled thier commercial.....that explains so much

      December 13, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
    • funny

      Don't mistake racists for Christians. Lowe's are obviously trying to satisfy their main consumer demographic. Southern right-wing racists. Those people are evil dressed as Christians.

      December 13, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
    • Greg s

      well that shows what you know about a Christian. A christian has the same right as anyone else to use there first amendment right and tell Loews I will not shop at there store if they endorse this show because I find the show offensive. Bam end of letter. I have the right as a American to write that letter, evidently Loews got a lot of these letters, so many that they decided it wasn't worth it to continue to support a group that a large part of the American public find offensive. Muslims on the other hand have taken to the Liberal Media to try and force Loews to resend its 1st amendment rights through force by screaming Bigot and racist.
      Islam is the most Bigoted and racist religion in the world, this is just hilarious to see in print.

      December 13, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
    • funny

      @Greg s so basically based on your statement, the first amendment is counter-productive to a civilized society.

      December 13, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
    • Captain America

      Hey. Don't beat up on Lowe's...they sell box cutters to Muslims- no questions asked!

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

    Do we have to see your gibberish Arabic on all their signs like we have to see spanish now?

    December 13, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
    • EJ

      Yes, we will. They are just dying to become the next "fad minority". It's all about playing victim

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

      It's odd to be mad at languages. You should perhaps seek professional attention.

      December 13, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
  3. bill

    requiring women to wear scarfs and to not allow dogs in the home are their right but i have a right to not watch and i will shop lowes for their wise move to pull advertising.

    December 13, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
    • Todd

      That will be just fine. They should put up a sign that says no mooslims allowed in the stores. Then I don't have to walk away from the stench as I wait for my paint to shake.

      December 13, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
  4. Kuske

    What would Tebow do?

    December 13, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
  5. Scott Canevit

    I'm absolutely amazed at the bigotry and ignorance being displayed here in these comments. Historically, Islam has been far more tolerant toward other religions than Christianity. Seems that some people here confuse fundamentalism with normative...i.e., fundamentalist Christians who blow up abortion clinics or protest military funeral along with fundamentalist Islamist who commit terrorist acts. They are both the same. I have worked with many Muslim and have Muslim friends and they are very American. Shame on Lowe's for being ignorant and shame on those here who continue to spew their hatred here.

    December 13, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
    • QS

      Agreed! The xenophobia running rampant through our culture currently is toxic and, it must be pointed out, is one of the major issues of the conservative party platform.

      December 13, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
    • Todd

      Blah, blah, blah...I'm so righteous. Go ahead and say it.

      December 13, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
    • MikeyMikeMichaelandyouknowwhyitsmyname

      Do Not Be Scared, arm yourself with the facts:
      http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/

      December 13, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
  6. rainy day

    Liberalism and islam will always be allies with one another because the two share a mutual bond: The seething hatred for Christianity.

    December 13, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
    • TimH

      It's more of a shaking head snicker than a hatred. You guys are much better at organized hate.

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

      As an Atheist I think any religion is destructive to any society. Having said that – being an American gives me the unique opportunity to see up close and personal the destructive power of the preferred religion of this country, Christianity, rather than the religion of any other country.

      But Tim is right – if there's an organization that embraces, condones and promotes hate...it's organized religion.

      December 13, 2011 at 12:23 pm |
    • Ben

      Rainy Day, I'm a liberal and i don't hate Christianity. I just hate that it's used as an excuse to do terrible things. The Bible has some great morals in it, unfortunately it also has some terrible ones and others that are often interpreted in terrible ways. The main message of Christianity is Love, yet most of the time I only hear hate being spewed from so-called "Christians"

      December 13, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
    • Cigouave

      Good Lord, what a paranoid worldview you hold to. I actually feel sorry for people like you.

      December 13, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
    • MikeyMikeMichaelandyouknowwhyitsmyname

      followers of Jesus the Christ have nothing to do with christian religions and their anti-Christ-like beliefs and rituals. "You will know anti-Christ by their mark which is upon their hand(what they do) and forehead(what they think). so called christians are not immune from anti-Christ like behaviour. http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/ get the facts Many times my prayers go like this " God please protect and strengthen me against your so called followers, Amen"

      December 13, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
    • pmacdaddy

      christians are not tolerant. don't kid yourself. moreover, they are smug, thinking that everyone else is going to hell

      December 13, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
  7. Stu Stewart

    Not shopping at Lowes

    December 13, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
    • Syed

      Good. I am not either

      December 13, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
    • Todd

      I will be. Home Depot just lost my business. Go Lowes!

      December 13, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
    • Ben

      This almost makes me wish that I shopped at Lowes just so I could stop shopping there.

      December 13, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
    • pmacdaddy

      Be careful, Home Depot just hired some muslims, disguised as americans. don't use the self checkout whatever you do.

      December 13, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
  8. Blackened

    Oh those wacky Christians and their nutty hi-jinks! What will they think of next?

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

      A few things come to mind – Theocratic America, world domination, eradicating all other religions....just for starters!

      December 13, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
    • MikeyMikeMichaelandyouknowwhyitsmyname

      Peace on Earth, Good Will, Joy to the World....to name a few. Salvation and Redemption through Gods Love and Grace, versus guilt and a reliance upon man's "good works" in helping god(see old testament for how well that worked). and a reprise of such moronic thinking within the germanic christian faithful ultimately leading to Holocaust...God does not need our help to do ANYTHING !! http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/ Get the Facts

      December 13, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
  9. luvstotravel

    Hey – you want freedom of speech and want your religious freedom – Lowes is welcome to do what they feel is right too. Way to go Lowes! About time someone stands up for the majority and not the minority

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

      Sounds to me like they stood up to a vocal minority who threatened them.
      Essentially, they gave in to Christian terrorists.... 'do as we say or we will punish you'

      December 13, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
    • MikeyMikeMichaelandyouknowwhyitsmyname

      @neeneko you are also a uselful idiot http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/ get the facts

      December 13, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
    • Todd

      I agree with you 100%. It's a free country, that means we can think what we want to also. I don't feel one ounce of guilt for my feelings.

      December 13, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
    • QS

      If nothing else, this whole situation can be boiled down to the corporate mindset – Lowe's probably genuinely thought enough people didn't want them advertising during this show that it would hurt their profits if those people stopped shopping there....so they caved – all for, of course, the only true religion of the world – greed.

      December 13, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
    • Todd

      At least I can see greed, and I know it's real.

      December 13, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
    • pmacdaddy

      they stood up for nothing. they caved to pressure from a small group. pathetic!

      December 13, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
  10. EJ

    Just as it's okay to discriminate against hate groups like the KKK, it's perfectly acceptable (and ethical) to discriminate against the Islamic religion (or any other religion for that matter). Religion is NOT owed respect.

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

      " Religion is NOT owed respect."

      Though I agree with you 100%, it depends upon who you ask. I don't believe in any of it myself, but... Someone else will tell you it is immensely disrespectful to "thier god" to say they are not owed respect.

      December 13, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
  11. Lucifer's Evil Twin

    Last time I checked, Lowes was an American corporation that had the freedom to advertise or not advertise anywhere they chose. They shouldn't have let the stupid christian cult pressure them into removing it, but still it was their choice. I will still shop there, mostly because home depot sucks.

    December 13, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
  12. robert vucsko

    'Daves'!!?? Exactly what is your malfunction? Where are you getting your 'facts' (and I use this term very loosely, in-this-case)? Nearly ALL the comments were embarrassingly negative, bigotted, racist, and downright shameful. We have THIS many small minds in this country?! It is no-wonder why more than half-the-world HATES us. Grow up.

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

      The writer of this story and you sir will be some of the first dupes beheaded once your utility in spreading the big lie is over. luckily this will not happen to either of you because good people will rise up and destroy this evil guilt ridden political system masqurading as a religion of peace(a lie). http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/ Get the Facts

      December 13, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
  13. Mike in SA

    Let's see...an advertiser decides not to advertise in XYZ show for whatever reason. Their right and their choice. See, here's the funny thing, everytime I read an article like this I always wonder why most are only talking about the "rights" of one group and not the "rights" of everyone. You can't force anyone to advertise on a specific show, however, here's a thought. Perhaps they could get the ball bearing and high explosive producers to advertise, their products are used on a daily basis by the vast majority of Islamic terrorists worldwide. .

    Well, time to go shopping and my first stop will be Lowe's.

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

      The problem is Lowes wanted to advertise on the show. They only pulled advertising after the Christians got offended, yet again. Your argument would make sense if the show said "Hey you want to advertise" and Lowes said "Nah, I don't think it will benefit us." But thats not what happened. They only pulled the ads after Christians showed again their hatred for anything different and not wanting to learn anything new. I'm sick of Christians being offended by anything and everything. Time they grew a set.

      December 13, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
    • Mike in SA

      That's weird, Tom, as I am sick and tired of everyone saying just because a Christian says or does something it's about hate. This group voice their opinion, just like many, many groups on the Left who voice their opinions on a daily basis and expect the country to "jump" everytime they demand XYZ.

      Off to Lowe's to spend about $500!

      December 13, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
    • QS

      Nice try Mike, but this was not about rights or lack thereof, this was about the reason Lowe's pulled the advertising. It's truly amazing that some people think this has anything to do with rights....but I suppose that's the convenient argument to make when you are essentially trying to defend and justify bigotry.

      Have fun shopping!

      December 13, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
  14. waynebrady

    If the ads were going to hurt revenue for Lowe's, they are well within their rights to pull the ads. When the purchasing power of American Muslims reaches that of the people offended by the advertising, then Lowe's will put their ads back in the program. The almighty dollar rules, always.

    December 13, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
  15. Alice

    I have not watched this show so can't comment on the content. The key difference in Muslims and the other groups you mention is that our country has been and continues to be attacked by people who call themselves Muslim and who say they are attacking with the blessing of their god. What the "innocent" Muslim community needs to do is stand up and loudly denounce the fringe Muslim element and actively, loudly work to marginalize and stop the fringe element. Where was all the outrage for the victims of the shooting at Ft Hood? This Muslim clearly thought he was acting for his god. If you want me to see you as "All American" then make it clear to me that you vehemently disagree with the Muslims attacking the US.

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

      Yet I generally do not see the Christian community 'standing up' to its outliers who are also killing Americans for their god. Crow, we have people who openly support(ed) the IRA....

      December 13, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
    • rainy day

      Neeneko: The Christian mainstream of this country was very much againt the Iraq War. You should also know that the soldiers who were sent to die there were Christian also. Your blind hatred to Christ and those who believe in Him is shameful.

      December 13, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
  16. colleen burns

    what has happened to us as human beings? we all have absolute rights in this country. while i don't agree with LOWES' POSITION OR THE REASONS WHY THEY MADE these choices, they have the right to make their decisions. our right is , wether we shop there, wether we watch whichever shows we find offensive, and writing these comments! iknow how i feel toward the people who would try to rear us down, but i don't know how i feel toward other Muslims and that's because, I DON'T KNOW ANY. so before we turn against any other HUMAN BEINGS, remember, we could be the next ethnic group that's not wanted here.

    December 13, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
  17. Syed

    There are more and more fanatics in this country now. One might excuse a 13 year old suicide bomber because he was young, illiterate and brain washed but there is no excuse for these grown up, so called educated people of the US. Thank God for a much better law and order situation here or they would be openly hunting down the muslims in this country.

    December 13, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
  18. Roger Vincent

    'Bigot'....LOL...Bigot means intolerant of other's opinion. Is this lawyer intolerant of others whose opinion differ from his own in the support of these ads. Therefore is he not a bigot also?

    I love politically correct arguments : )

    December 13, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
  19. Pertnear

    If TLC did a show on Muslims in America that included more than just a hand-picked few, then we would see how the "average" Muslim in America would be in favor of Sharia law and do away with life as we know it. The writer of this article is very naive. Just because .0001% of Muslims in the US are accepting of the Western lifestyle, doesn't mean we should turn our backs on the other 99.9999%.

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

      And you base these statistics on what exactly? I have yet to meet even a single Muslim in favor of Shira law.. they seem to mostly exist as a conservative strawman.

      December 13, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
    • BobFromPA

      You state statistics. Where is your source or are you just making this up?

      December 13, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
    • rainy day

      Neneeko: Try living in Egypt or Iraq as Christian. You'll meet plenty of muslims in favor of Islamic/Shariah law. In fact, the first rule of order by the transitional government in Libya following the overthorw of Gadaffi was the establishment of Shariah law. Care to try again?

      December 13, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
    • Mike in SA

      Neeneko – Yes, I see, and work, daily with Muslims who openly profess the desire to bring total Sharia law to the US, to make the US the largest Muslim nation in the world, and who openly profess hatred and intolerance to any other religion. Thanks for asking.

      Oh, to those who say "Well, the radical element/terrorists are only 1-2% of all Muslims. You do understand a bit of math, right? 1-2% of approx 1,500,000,000 is 15-30,000,000. That's a pretty big friggin' army of terrorists to deal with.

      December 13, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
  20. erman

    Unless bound by a contract, Lowes (or any sponsor) has the right to choose where and how it advertises itself. It really is as simple as that. However, their marketing organization could and should have done a better job of recognizing the potential outcome of the decision to sponsor a show that involves a (right or wrong) controversial topic. I will shop at Lowes, or any other store that offers services and prices that fulfill my expectations and couldn't care less about all the crap raised on this blog.

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

      Love seeing people being proud of supporting, even indirectly, hate and bigotry in this country so they can save a buck! Classy!

      December 13, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
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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.