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. Immanuel

    As is the case with many controversial topics, extreme knee jerk reactions are on display. First, Muslim is a religion, not a race. To make a comparison to a show highlighting an ethnic group is way off the mark. Any person is free in this nation to choose their religion irrespective of their race or nationality. What would be the reaction to a show that promoted Jehovah’s Witness?

    December 13, 2011 at 11:43 am |
  2. TAK

    If I'm not mistaken, Lowes sponsors a NASCAR team. What a surprise. So here's my plan. I will watch one NASCAR race (muted, so I don't have to listen to the announcers' moronic drawl), I will take note of every car's sponsor, and boycott them all.

    December 13, 2011 at 11:43 am |
  3. Arsalan Iftikhar

    Hey you fn american. Eat my doo doo.

    December 13, 2011 at 11:42 am |
  4. Jim

    Wow. Of course the Christians are complaining. No one is allowed to force their views on anyone in this country except the Christians. Really, we've known this for years. Just look at this holiday season and what the Christians have done to all the Pagan festivals and traditions. Anyway, I think it is COMPLETE cowardice of Lowe's to pull their programming. I could understand A LITTLE if they didn't want to be seen supporting any one religion but then you would need to pull out of Sister Wives, The Dugger's show, etc. I'm pretty sure they wouldn't and that really still points to the fact that Christians in this country have way to much sway over what happens. IT is hilarious that these "Christians" will all be burning in hell LONG before anyone else due to their complete lack of TOLERANCE. It is the fundamental teaching of their "Savior" and yet none of them have it. TOLERANCE people....just a little TOLERANCE.

    I am not Muslim or Christians (a little obvious is it?), but I am sick and tired of hearing everyone bicker over their religious agendas. Until each of you can accept EVERYONE, you're all wrong. Yes, there will always be extremists no matter what the cause, but honestly I have seen a hell of a lot more "Extremism" coming from the Christian community than I have the Muslims. Most Muslims I know are very peaceful, proud people. Most Christians I know are hateful, people full of intolerance and bigotry. Make of that what you will. At the end of the day we are all HUMAN and until we ALL learn that...we will forever be lost.

    December 13, 2011 at 11:42 am |
  5. Christian

    I think reality shows are dumb and bad publicity for anyone. People put on a front for reality TV and it has a detrimental effect on the group at one point or another. Can we afford to help fuel more stereotypes?

    December 13, 2011 at 11:42 am |
  6. Christian

    stupid jews killed jesus, and now we are supporting that jew corporation? as a christian, this is wrong. we need to put an end to lowes and all all corporations run by jews.

    December 13, 2011 at 11:41 am |
    • Pope on a Rope

      Bigots hating on bigots. Lovely.

      December 13, 2011 at 11:44 am |
    • fatherof3

      Do you not know that Jesus was a Jew?
      That the Romans actually did the killing?
      That all of the early Christians were jews?
      That many Jews still follow Christ?

      December 13, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
  7. Mike

    We all deserve what we care to watch!

    December 13, 2011 at 11:41 am |
  8. Gail

    Amazing how stupid people can still be here in the 21st century.

    December 13, 2011 at 11:41 am |
  9. Pope on a Rope

    Lowe's pulled their ads because they were upsetting racist rednecks. That's their right. It's my right as an open-minded individual to criticize their decision and never buy anything from them again. With the wonders of the internet, I have already encouraged my friends to do the same.

    December 13, 2011 at 11:40 am |
  10. obama

    hello, I purposely ruined this country bc i am black

    December 13, 2011 at 11:40 am |
    • Pope on a Rope

      I think if you were to look in the mirror, you would find a racist redneck, not a black man who happens to be President. Other than that, you are correct. People like you do in fact ruin this country.

      December 13, 2011 at 11:43 am |
  11. Shawna

    If anyone can not tolarate the "freedom of Speech" and "freedom of religion" in the US, may be they can find another planet to live in (and take the Lowes stores with you)
    I am a proud American Muslim.

    December 13, 2011 at 11:39 am |
  12. alex

    crush Islam..and all other religions!

    December 13, 2011 at 11:39 am |
  13. Muslim

    as a Muslim I think the Jews confused TLC with Hitler and requested the Jesus followers to demonstrate in their place. weak.

    December 13, 2011 at 11:38 am |
  14. Peter

    Two things.............First if they want to drop their funding for a show they should be able to just as people have a right to not shop at Lowes because of it.....Second......do we really need another reality show..................Hollywood has lost its orignial thinking....

    December 13, 2011 at 11:38 am |
  15. T.S.

    I'm a white, non-muslim American who grew up on military bases and has family members who fought and died in Iraq. I'll never give another dollar to Lowes as long as I live due to this, the same as I've never purchased a pair of Nikes over their use of and resistance to stop using sweatshops in the 90's. Not every Muslim is a terrorist, but every person who thinks this is an idiot and doesn't deserve respect, or my money.

    December 13, 2011 at 11:37 am |
    • Z Lopez

      good don't shop Lowe's if you bleieve in Muslims more than AMerica so be it

      December 13, 2011 at 11:39 am |
    • Bugs Bunny


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

      Those of you backing Lowe's move are confusing me. You can't be Christians, who believe in Jesus Christ and live by his tenets, because he was pretty clear in his exhortations to "love one another," "turn the other cheek" and "do unto others." You can't be intelligent, patriotic Americans who believe we should ALL have the right to our own religion, and don't condemn any religion on the grounds that a few extremists represent every member. If you're not Christian and you're not patriotic Americans, what are you?

      December 13, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
  16. free country

    At the end of the day, Lowes should be aloud to spend their advertising dollars where they choose to do so, after all it is their money. This is also the same for shoppers, you can choose to shop there or you can choose not to.

    December 13, 2011 at 11:37 am |
  17. Z Lopez

    Here is why I will stand of for Lowe's. They have the right to do what is in the best interest of that Company. If they feel they do not want to advertise with TLC they have the right. Were is the out cry when Muslims sue our Companys. Tyson foods was forced to give Muslims there own Holiday and allow them to pray 5 times a day and a foot bath/Swift foods was sued for the same reason/Hertz is being sued/Disneyland was sued and forced to adhere to there demands when in fact they have dress codes. I can go on and on how these Muslims are changing our Country i don't hear the out cry over that, No other Religion demands these things. Religion has no place in the work force but yet they are suing our Company's right and left.This is nonsense if you do not like our Culture nor our laws leave THIS IS AMERICA not the MIDDLE EAST we do not have to abide by Sharia LAw or any othe crap that you believe in. GOD BLESS AMERICA AND LOWE"S

    December 13, 2011 at 11:37 am |
    • Jason

      It's pretty clear that your statements are rooted in bigotry and not any sort of reasonable logic. You don't like Muslims and you have no way to logically explain this hatred, so you make ignorant comments, which only makes you look more like a clown.

      December 13, 2011 at 11:45 am |
  18. NoTags

    Way to go Lowes, I'm on my way to shop at your store today.

    December 13, 2011 at 11:37 am |
  19. buny

    Is it not amazing how cnn is so easy to jump and criticize Lowes but yet nothing was said about the professor from stafford or the other lecturer who bashed our military.

    December 13, 2011 at 11:36 am |
  20. Sanity

    To put in plain english...This is a damn shame. Seriously my heart aches for this world. God is not happy with us. He created us to love and cherish each other. He created each and everyone of us in his image. That's Muslims, Christians, Jews, Blacks, Whites, Latinos, Asians, Mormans, Democrats and Republican. WE ARE ALL THE SAME. WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER! STOP TRYING TO TEAR DOWN EACH OTHER!!!

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

      Well said. We ARE all in this together, we are all human. Divided we shall fall.

      December 13, 2011 at 11:49 am |
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
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.