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. Jew

    as a Jew thank you Jesus followers for furthering the views of Judaism, let us band together and strike down the Muslim man for openly showing disgruntlement towards Lowes the home of the Jew.

    December 13, 2011 at 11:35 am |
  2. mm

    Dozens of companies pulled ads from this show as the show brewed more controversial. For some reason Lowes is the scapegoat. I also find all of this phony outrage by muslims and their supporters rediculous because they would never come to the defense of Christian discimination. Christians are being killed daily in Egypt and Iraq but they could care less. And by the way, Lowes does great work and their business will be just fine without you. I just read today that a terorist attack took place in Belgium because a Pakistani immigrant family disagreed with a court's decision that honour killings are illegal there. Why is this not brought up in context within this debate? The reason is because it would kill the debate. Islam is not compatable with the West. Period. Call me whatever you want, it will not change the truth.

    December 13, 2011 at 11:35 am |
  3. bad examples

    Citing Dave Chappelle and Ali as examples of American Muslims is a dumb move. They both have history that could easily be used to prove the point that the bigots are trying to make. Chappelle has even said he doesn't talk about his religion much because he can be used as a bad example.

    December 13, 2011 at 11:34 am |
  4. Textbook

    Some of the comments here certainly point to a strong case for bigotry, fear and ethnocentrism. Shame on those who say that American Muslims are equal to a terrorist. That has about as much sound logic as saying the Jew murdering Hitler was a god-fearing Christian. And what is it that those early Americans came to this land for?? Oh yeah, it was religions freedom, wasn't it? The hope and idea that they could serve God according to their own faith and conscience.
    I have no problems with Christians who live and practice their faith. Some of the finest people I have met are Christian but, lest we forget, Christian throughout history have not been so very "Christian"–remember those Crusades and that Inquisition?? How do you jump from a calling a faithful, practicing Muslim an American to a terrorist. Your logic is flawed, your sense of humanity and enlightenment is seriously in question!

    My family has been in this county since before the 1776 and over the years has fought to bring rights and freedoms to people who sought those same values. Historically not all good times with the differences Irish, Jews, Italian, Protestants, Catholics, Jews, etc but, the agreement was all came for the love of freedom, to live peaceably and the a hope for a better life. Who are any of you to say that the door is closed for that same opportunity. But, let's be clear, in many cases this is NOT what we are talking about. We are talking about American kids who grew up in American families, going to American Schools doing American activities who whose faith happens to be that of Muslim. Welcome to the American melting pot where all of us are united by those values that so few of us have fought for. You call your self a religious person–maybe you are a Christian. Here are some words I remember from my Christian Sunday School: " Love they Neighbor as thy self", "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you", "As I have loved you, Love one another. But this shall men know that ye are my disciples". Now about a little less hate and fear mongering and practicing some of the concepts of "good" for which Christians are supposed to be known. And for the bigots that still don't get it, welcome to America, Land of the Free and home of the brave of all faiths, peoples, persuasions, ideology, religions. One nation under God–not just your God.

    December 13, 2011 at 11:33 am |
    • really

      Let's remember the Christian crusades were in response to the Muslim territorial power grab throughout Asia and Europe.

      December 13, 2011 at 11:41 am |
  5. NorCalMojo

    Oh look, another Muslim complaining about America. What a surprise.

    December 13, 2011 at 11:33 am |
    • niks

      seriously. I do not support the muslim religion becuse of how horrible it is for women, not becuase I think they are all terrorists.

      December 13, 2011 at 11:41 am |
  6. DeeAnn

    Has anyone stopped to think that maybe Lowe's would rather support something that they believe in. Since I am a Christian I would rather support my Christian faith (something that I believe in and love) RATHER than spending my money on something that I dont believe in.
    I would not expect the CEO of Lowes to run ads for a Christian TV Show if he was an Athiest. Why is this any different?

    December 13, 2011 at 11:32 am |
    • charms

      well said. And I applaud Lowes for this.

      December 13, 2011 at 11:59 am |
    • bobbyfrank

      ...and your christian faith teaches you to love your neighbor as yourself NOT just the christian ones.

      December 13, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
  7. Mark

    Good for Lowes. I support them 100%

    December 13, 2011 at 11:31 am |
  8. Nick Rymond


    December 13, 2011 at 11:31 am |
    • Gyno_American

      Um, Home Depot pulled out too, you tard. Try doing some research. Putting ads where you like them, and pulling them where you don't is not bigotry in any way.

      December 13, 2011 at 11:36 am |
    • brain wave

      first of all it's got nothing to do with being UNAmerican...it's got plenty to do with applying ad dollars to where it will impact the most...so why don't YOU and your doooche libertard union friends shop at Home Depot...plenty of business to go around...this way I don't run into you and punch you in the face doooochebag

      December 13, 2011 at 11:36 am |
    • Horace

      that's great news nick. you and the rest of the camel jockeys should stay the hell out of lowe's anyway. thanks for lowering the possibility of a terrorist attack where the rest of us americans shop.

      December 13, 2011 at 11:40 am |
    • maddawg

      what lowes did was 100% american......

      this is not a country of "do what we insist you do because we insist you do it...."

      lowes has every right NOT to advertise where it does not want to.......

      December 13, 2011 at 11:42 am |
  9. Jean Sartre, Milwauke, WI

    I don't know why everyone is so upset with the bigotry that LOWE'S is showing here... It is, after all, what CHRISTIANS do and are noted for...

    December 13, 2011 at 11:31 am |
    • brain wave

      you guys up there in wisconsin have already shown how civil you act and how you destroy private property...do you really want to comment on anything??? you guys are the worst representatives of this nation...california is more civil

      December 13, 2011 at 11:39 am |
  10. daniela -+

    why are you doing this there people who breath and feel like us christians we are not god to juge these people let them show us there way of life like we show are way every single day

    December 13, 2011 at 11:30 am |
  11. Jew

    Im a Jew and I support what Lowes did by pulling their ad.

    stupid HIttler working with TLC

    December 13, 2011 at 11:30 am |
    • Jean Sartre, Milwauke, WI

      I'm an atheist and I support the obliteration of Israel.

      Stupid skull cap wearing cretins masquerading as victims...

      December 13, 2011 at 11:34 am |
    • idiot hew

      Not surprised that a jew would say that... it will be you guys next..

      December 13, 2011 at 11:42 am |
  12. The Master

    No you are not, I am and I OWN LOWES!

    December 13, 2011 at 11:30 am |
  13. Logic

    For those of you applauding Lowes for this move, you do realize they didn't come to this decision by themselves, right? They were pushed into it by a southern special interest group and they caved like cowards. The more patriotic move would be for Lowes to say that they are allowed to advertise on whatever channel/program they want. THAT is FREEDOM. Not caving in for fear of losing a few redneck customers.

    December 13, 2011 at 11:29 am |
    • Gyno_American

      So the insurance companies and Home Depot did it because they were intimidated as well? What are you smoking? It's a PR nightmare and they want no part of it.

      December 13, 2011 at 11:38 am |
    • Birdawg68

      They are also allowed to pull the ad instead of becoming mixed up with a controversy.

      December 13, 2011 at 11:43 am |
  14. BetterCommercials

    Lowes can sponsor whoever they want. IT'S THEIR MONEY. Get a life.

    December 13, 2011 at 11:29 am |
  15. Joe

    As I've said before, there is no god. Muhammad and Jesus were nothing more than two nuts who found enough suckers.

    December 13, 2011 at 11:29 am |
  16. About Time

    I want to thank Lowe's for finally stepping up to the plate. I am so sick and tired of hearing about the minorities. It is about time that someone takes a stand. I will only shop at Lowe's from now on.

    December 13, 2011 at 11:29 am |
    • tallulah13

      Wow. That's an unabashed slice of hate. Enjoy yourself at Lowe's. I'll be spending my cash at Home Depot.

      December 13, 2011 at 11:32 am |
    • Gyno_American

      Kiefek Tallulha, Depot pulled their ads too FYI. Don't be so sensitive.

      December 13, 2011 at 11:41 am |
    • Orin

      Don't know if your "white" or not (but I am assuming so), but you do realize that whites will be the minority in this country in the relatively near future. America is being redefined, just like it was for the Native Americans who died of small pox and human rights abuses from the white christian settlers. I am also going to assume that if you are white and your grandchildren become the minority, then you will not be sick and tired of hearing about minority rights.

      It is time to step up and be human and not just whatever I-feel-superior- race. We are killing ourselves and our planet. There is only one earth.

      December 13, 2011 at 11:47 am |
  17. Nacho1

    There are TWO cards ALWAYS played anymore! Racial and bigotry! This has been going on for about 50 years now and am sick of it! Play a different card because NOBODY has to like SOMEBODY else for personal reasons! Human nature! If a person wants to be a bigot or a racist...that is their right! Live with it!

    December 13, 2011 at 11:28 am |
    • tallulah13

      This isn't about one person disliking another. This story is about the efforts of a christian group to undermine the positive, honest portrayal of muslims. This is about fomenting hatred and distrust, the sort of things that can erupt into violence if enough gasoline is poured on the fire. You can hate in private all you want. But when you make a concerted effort to create hatred for a specific group, you are no better than a terrorist yourself.

      December 13, 2011 at 11:35 am |
  18. Brandon

    also, it is just a commercial! I am pretty sure Lowes can sponsor who they please.

    December 13, 2011 at 11:28 am |

    come to LOWES DEPOT where you can purchase your anit christ wood cross creation kit at a discount price of 69 with ur mother.

    December 13, 2011 at 11:27 am |
    • tallulah13

      As a Muslim I find that funny!

      December 13, 2011 at 11:28 am |
    • bear0402

      As a Christian, I find that funny!

      December 13, 2011 at 11:31 am |
    • brain wave

      I'm none of the above and find all of you offensive and a bunch of doooochebags

      December 13, 2011 at 11:41 am |
  20. Zev Paiss

    This just goes to show how narrow we can be. All that is necessary for evil to prevail is for the good to do nothing. I think we should begin a letter writing campaign to Lowes and the Florida organization and let them know what the rest of American's think about their narrow and totally un-American stance. Shame on you!

    December 13, 2011 at 11:26 am |
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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.