Ads Pulled From Muslim-American Reality Show After Conservative Groups Complain

Conservative groups are upset because a new reality show depicts Muslim-Americans as, well, normal Americans.

In the latest example of anti-Muslim insanity, conservative groups have begun pressuring advertisers to pull their ads from a TLC reality show called All-American Muslims because, well, it dares to show that Muslim-Americans aren’t terrorists after all:

Lowe’s, the national hardware chain, has pulled commercials from future episodes of “All-American Muslim,” a TLC reality-TV show, after protests by Christian groups.

The Florida Family Association, a Tampa Bay group, has led a campaign urging companies to pull ads on “All-American Muslim.” The FFA contends that 65 of 67 companies it has targeted have pulled their ads, including Bank of America, the Campbell Soup Co., Dell, Estee Lauder, General Motors, Goodyear, Green Mountain Coffee, McDonalds, Sears, and Wal-Mart.

“‘All-American Muslim’ is propaganda clearly designed to counter legitimate and present-day concerns about many Muslims who are advancing Islamic fundamentalism and Sharia law,” the Florida group asserts in a letter it asks members to send to TLC advertisers.

“The show profiles only Muslims that appear to be ordinary folks while excluding many Islamic believers whose agenda poses a clear and present danger to the liberties and traditional values that the majority of Americans cherish,” the FFA’s letter continues.

It was not clear whether the companies cited by the Florida Family Association, which has also targeted shows like MTV’s “Degrassi,” stopped advertising on “All-American Muslim” because of pressure or for other reasons.

Emails from Home Depot and Sweet’N Low posted on the Florida Family Association’s website suggest the companies had simply bought one commercial spot, and didn’t cancel any commercials.

A spokeswoman for Amway, also cited by the Florida group, denied the company pulled advertising from “All-American Muslim,” and said those reports were “misleading” and “falsely named” Amway.

Lowe’s acknowledged pulling commercials from “All-American Muslim” following consumer complaints, but denied they came from one group.

“We understand the program raised concerns, complaints, or issues from multiple sides of the viewer spectrum, which we found after doing research of news articles and blogs covering the show,” said Katie Cody, a Lowe’s spokeswoman.

Cody declined to specify whether the complaints were anti-Muslim, and whether Lowe’s advertises on shows with Christian, Jewish, or other religious characters or themes. “It is certainly never Lowe’s intent to alienate anyone,” Cody said.

TLC’s description of the show on its website makes it seem innocuous enough, though, and hardly the stuff of controversy:

All-American Muslim takes a look at life in Dearborn, Michigan-home to the largest mosque in the United States-through the lens of five Muslim American families.

Each episode offers an intimate look at the customs and celebrations, misconceptions and conflicts these families face outside and within their own community.

Jazz Shaw previewed the show just before its premier last month and made these comments after he’d gotten a sneak preview of the show:

The series focuses on a number of people in Dearborn, Michigan, all members of the Muslim-American community. It’s a rather eclectic collection of both married couples and singles, ranging from devout practitioners of their faith (women wearing head scarves, adherence to traditional Arab lifestyles) to very westernized young folks, including a woman who dresses far more like the Kardashians and has an interesting collection of tattoos.

Rather than being a bland travel video of happy Muslims immersing themselves in American culture, however, the show takes more than a few chances in showing some of the complications and pitfalls which arise when cultural worlds collide. One of the more startling examples is that of Shadia Amen as she prepares to marry her all American, Irish Catholic boyfriend Jeff. The impending nuptials have Jeff’s mother a bit out of sorts since he’s agreed to convert to the Muslim faith in order to be able to satisfy his bride and her family.

So what, exactly, is the problem, you might wonder. After all, the Arab community in Dearborn has been a fixture there for decades. According to the last Census, for example, the Arab-American population constitutes nearly a full third of the total population. Some of that population are Christian Arabs from Lebanon and Syria who came to the city during the height of the automotive industry, but in more recent decades the City has also attracted immigrants from Yemen and the Palestinian Authority, and refugees from Iraq have also joined the eclectic mix. The City is also the home of the Islamic Center of America, the largest mosque in the United States. The Arab-Muslim population there has grown significantly over the years, to the point where High School Football teams now schedule practices at night in order to accommodate the observance of Ramadan. By all accounts, the Muslims who have settled in Dearborn are hard-working, normal Americans who, like other immigrant groups, are making their own way in the United States while still preserving the traditions and beliefs of the homeland in their private lives.

What could possibly be wrong with that, you might ask? Well, I’ll let the Florida Family Association explain:

The Learning Channel’s new show All-American Muslim is propaganda clearly designed to counter legitimate and present-day concerns about many Muslims who are advancing Islamic fundamentalism and Sharia law.  The show profiles only Muslims that appear to be ordinary folks while excluding many Islamic believers whose agenda poses a clear and present danger to liberties and traditional values that the majority of Americans cherish.

One of the most troubling scenes occurred at the introduction of the program when a Muslim police officer stated “I really am American.  No ifs and or buts about it.”  This scene would appear to be damage control for the Dearborn Police who have arrested numerous Christians including several former Muslims for peacefully preaching Christianity.  Dearborn Police falsely arrested Nabeel Qureshi and Paul Rezkalla in 2010 and Sudanese Christian Pastor George Saieg in 2009 for preaching Christianity at the Annual Arab International Festival.  Information on these two arrests are posted below.

(…)

The show portrayed a Roman Catholic who converted to Muslim to marry.  However, there was no mention of a Muslim who attempted to convert to Christianity which has resulted in a multitude of conflicts in America and abroad.  Many woman were shown wearing hijabs and many who were not, but the program did not show what happens if one of the hijab-wearing women decides to take it off.  Such conflicts would conflict with The Learning Channel’s agenda to inaccurately portray Muslims in America.

There is no mention of the honor killing of Jessica Mokdad who lived not far from where this show was taped in Dearborn.

The show fails to mention many Islamic believers’ demeaning treatment of women or great disdain for non-Muslims (infidels).

Robert Spencer’s article in Human Events and Pamela Geller’s article in World Net Daily regarding All-American Muslim are published below.

Clearly this program is attempting to manipulate Americans into ignoring the threat of jihad and to influence them to believe that being concerned about the jihad threat would somehow victimize these nice people in this show.

In other words, the FFA opposes the show because it doesn’t depict Muslim-Americans in accordance with their own perverted, hate-filled view of the religion. Obviously, TLC is part of the conspiracy to hide from America the truth about the secret al Qaeda training camps just outside Dearborn, and I’ll bet they even photoshop the video before air time so we don’t see the AK-47’s piled in the corner of the living room, or the giant shrine to Osama bin Laden in the backyard.

This would be laughable if it weren’t so pathetic. This is how a sizable portion of people who claim to be Christians view not only a religion that encompasses more than a billion people, but their neighbors and fellow Americans. Did anyone at FFA bother to travel to Dearborn and see things for themselves rather than immersing themselves in the hate-filled rhetoric of the Geller’s and Spencer’s of the world? I’m guessing they didn’t, because their  message sounds exactly like the nonsense we’ve been seeing from that corner of the right for years now. Everything Muslim is evil, if you see a Muslim who looks like a normal person they are trying to fool you. That is the kind of idiotic rhetoric that these people spew on a daily basis, and its sad that rather than actually watching the show, or getting to know an actual Muslim, that people who claim to follow a man who once said that one of God’s two Great Commandments was to “love your neighbor as yourself” have decided to condemn an entire faith based on the hate coming from one rabid corner of the blogosphere. I’m pretty sure that Jesus didn’t include “except for those dirty Muslims” in there.

I find the Lowe’s decision disappointing, albeit understandable. Any time a well-organized group starts one of these advertiser boycott campaigns, companies whose brands rely on customer loyalty are usually the first to fold for fear that not doing so will damage the company’s brand. Economically it makes sense, but it’s also cowardly in a sense because if the advertisers wouldn’t be so quick to give in to this nonsense, then the boycotters would quickly find that nobody is really listening to them. Instead, Lowe’s and the other advertisers have let FFA think they won this argument, and managed to damage their reputation with other customers. For example, Lowe’s own website shows that it has five stores within 12 miles of Dearborn, MI. One wonders how the residents of that area feel about all of this.

All of this reminds me of something that we learned around the time of the “Ground Zero Mosque”controversy in 2010. Seemingly paradoxically, most Americans tell pollsters that they do not know any Muslims personally. At the same time, though, the same polls show that most Americans think they are at least somewhat knowledgeable about Islam.  As I noted at the time, this poses a problem for both Americans in general and Muslim-Americans in particular:

Where are people getting this knowledge about Islam if they don’t know any Muslims ? Well, obviously, from the same talking head news culture that creates the culture of demonization. If you were to base your opinion on Islam solely on what is portrayed on Fox News and on radio shows hosted by people like Sean Hannity, then it’s not surprising that you’d be opposed to not just to construction of a community center and mosque in Lower Manhattan, but any mosque anywhere.It is, quite simply, ignorance fueled by demonization. I would submit that if some of these people had actual Muslim neighbors or co-workers, their opinions about the religion, and the rights of its adherents, would be much, much different.

And that, I think, is part of the problem that Muslims in America face. They are a very small part of the population — somewhere between 1.3 million and 7 million people depending on whose numbers you go by — but they are part of a religion of 1.6 billion people worldwide that is, because of it’s radical elements, suspicious to some people. It’s a PR problem, but one made more difficult by the fact that it’s very unlikely that most Americans will know much about Islam other than what they see on television from the Middle East, and most of that, quite honestly, isn’t very good (which is, incidentally, why many of the Muslims in America are here rather than there).  When it comes to Islam, Americans suffer from a lack of knowledge about everything other than it’s most extreme and radical elements, and until that changes I’m afraid that the public’s attitudes about Islam are going to remain as negative as they are today.

I’m no fan of reality shows, and I honestly can’t say I’ve watched a single minute of All-American Muslim, or anything else on TLC for that matter, but it strikes me that there’s some value in media depictions of Muslim-Americans like this. The more real information people have, the less likely they are to believe the insane rantings of the Islamophobes who would have them believe that every Muslim is one step away from strapping on a suicide vest and walking into a shopping mall.

FILED UNDER: Economics and Business, Islam, Religion, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Rob in CT says:

    I wonder (but not enough to bother watching) if the show is actually any good, or if it’s really just bait. Because you know certain folks would freak out, overreact and make asses of themselves.

  2. Hey Norm says:

    “…is propaganda clearly designed to counter legitimate and present-day concerns about many Muslims who are advancing Islamic fundamentalism and Sharia law…”

    Who, exactly, labeled these concerns as legitimate??? Seriously…I want to know.

  3. @Rob in CT:

    Well it’s TLC, which gave us Jon & Kate, the Duggars, and all that other nonsense so who knows? I’m not watching it, but then again neither are the people who are protesting the fact that it doesn’t adequately depict all Muslim-Americans as fanatical killers.

  4. Ernieyeball says:

    “The FFA contends that 65 of 67 companies it has targeted have pulled their ads, including Bank of America, the Campbell Soup Co., Dell, Estee Lauder, General Motors, Goodyear, Green Mountain Coffee, McDonalds, Sears, and Wal-Mart.”

    Aren’t these the nasty ass capitalists that control our lives that OWS wants to be rid of?
    What a bunch of wimps!

  5. it strikes me that there’s some value in media depictions of Muslim-Americans like this

    Which is precisely why the FFA is boycotting it. Learning about people is the first step to not being afraid of them. If people aren’t afraid anymore, the FFA loses all of its political power.

  6. Mikey says:

    Having grown up not too far from Dearborn, I can tell you the range of devout-ness among American Muslims is pretty much the same as it is for any other religion. Not every Muslim adheres with total fidelity to every tenet of that religion, just as not every Jew keeps kosher and not every Christian abstains from pre-marital sex.

    Hell, I was in Kuwait once working with an officer of the Kuwaiti Air Force, who invited me to dinner at his home. He introduced me to his family, including his wife, who was dressed in jeans and not wearing a headscarf. So there are differences even in the Middle East.

    Every Muslim country isn’t Saudi Arabia, and every American Muslim family is not the bin Ladens.

  7. ponce says:

    I think I’ll boycott Lowe’s for their cowardice.

    No big sacrifice for me as Home Depot is just a block farther.

  8. mantis says:

    I can tell you the range of devout-ness among American Muslims is pretty much the same as it is for any other religion. Not every Muslim adheres with total fidelity to every tenet of that religion

    Any Muslim who does not is murdered in public on the streets of Dearborn as a warning, though. It’s true. Pamela Gellar says so. The only reason you don’t hear about it is the Muslim Media Coverup Conspiracy!

  9. Franklin says:

    Let’s keep this short: I grew up near Dearborn, live even closer now, and interact with some of these Muslims frequently. Not one of them has blown me up, or even threatened to! I know that’s hard to believe for some impotent bigots living down in Florida with their blinders on (and possibly blinkers on, too).

  10. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Lowes has seen the last of my business. It won’t be easy as out here the alternatives are a little more distant, a little less well stocked. My trip in the next few days will be the last, but only so I can tell them why.

  11. anjin-san says:

    Lowes has seen the last of my business.

    Ditto.

    The Muslims I have known all stuck me a decent people who wanted a lot of the same things out of life I do. I will have no part of this right wing hate fest.

  12. Ron Beasley says:

    I gave up on Lowes years ago anyway because I usually had to go to Home Depot anyway to get what they didn’t have and Lowes employees were less knowledgeable. Now I’ll see red when a drive by a Lowes.

  13. mantis says:

    This Onion article is delightfully apropos.

    FBI: Muslim Groups In U.S. May Be Developing Nuclear Families

    According to an FBI report released Monday, “reliable and substantive evidence” exists indicating that Muslims residing in the U.S. are involved in a widespread plot to develop nuclear families….

    H/T ABL at BJ

  14. Anderson says:

    Does Lowe’s need to hear from you? Send ’em a message.

    Don’t let them hear only from the haters.

  15. Hey Norm says:

    So let’s review:
    A bunch of religious zealots act in a very un-American manner and condemn a group of people who are acting in a very American manner and are not pursuing religious zealotry…which is what we want.
    Do these Republicans have a brain in their collective heads?

  16. mattb says:

    @Anderson: Thanks for suggesting that… I expressed my disappointment (and my decision not to show there anymore) in a polite email to Lowes.

  17. There is that individualism that conservatives are always preaching about. It sucks that a show is needed to counter thugerservatives like Geller, Buchanan and others but I do hope it does well.

  18. Liberty60 says:

    @Franklin:
    Roger that-
    I live next door to a Muslim Afghan family, have had dinner over at their house, and have invited them to dinner at mine.

    Very traditional, observant Muslims, who are pretty nice people.

    They haven’t murdered any abortion doctors yet, but aside from that little flaw, they are regular Americans.

  19. Hey Norm says:

    Ever see Archie Panjabi on “The Good Wife”? She can impose Sharia Law on me anytime. What’s that you say? She’s from the UK? Damn…bigotry will get you every time.

  20. John Burgess says:

    @Mikey: Even in Saudi Arabia, things aren’t cookie-cutter perfect. Under those abayas? Anything from Chanel dresses to jeans to nothing at all. Most Saudis do happen to be conservative as a society, but there is actually enough psychological space to leave most people happy with their lives.

    That is, if they can find a job, but that’s hardly Saudi-specific these days.

  21. Neil Hudelson says:

    Hold on, does watching this show make me Muslim?

    So many damn things turning people muslim these days without them knowing it. First the turkey, now this.

  22. pcbedamned says:

    Well, thanks to FOX, the Manic Madness against Muslims has spread here to the Great White North. I just had a conversation about 2 weeks ago with my very own mum about those “crazy Muslims just waiting to go and blow us all up, don’t ya know…”
    *facepalm*

    Best thing I ever did, for both my health AND my sanity, was to turn off FOX and never look back. Even my Rats have noticed the level of crazy around here has toned down now that mom is no longer screaming obscenities at the TV…. ;-}

  23. G.A.Phillips says:

    The Muslims I have known all stuck me a decent people who wanted a lot of the same things out of life I do.

    Hey me too, but I am sure that they are not practicing Islam…. Because I study it, every day of the week and some times on the week end…..

    Most Saudis do happen to be conservative as a society, but there is actually enough psychological space to leave most people happy with their lives.

    One can hope, I hear they just beheaded some chick for practicing witchcraft and sorcery, but it did not say what kind…But they sound like true believers of the religion/political movement known as Islam…

  24. cian says:

    I just don’t get Lowes position here. FFA is run by a bunch of nuts for a bunch of nuts, and while I have no knowledge of internal research conducted by the company, I can’t imagine a majority of Lowes customers care too much about this issue. So why make such a big deal? The publicity will not be good, the backlash large-scale, they already look weak and un-American, and worst of all, for any serious business, they’ll lose significant sales and eventually share of market.

    Had they ignored FFA, this would never have become a story, other than ‘Nuts At It Again’. Whose advising Lowes, I wonder?

  25. meme says:

    I’m 18 and arab, born and raised in ny, ever since this show appeared (but I never did tune in) I never relized how people veiw my beliefs , by seeing the anti muslim groups on facebook and reading bout organizations in florida, ignorance spreads fast, I mean lookin at me and my family u would think our roots are from America but I take pride in my islamic belief, which is why I find this ironic, cause all iv ever knew about islam was peace peace peace, and anything else like mischeif,gossiping and cursing I was scoled for, But since there are bad apples in my society the rest of us got to suffer the scrutiny, I hope before I die I see it disapear, real good article though, will deffintitly look into it more mabe check this show out since it captures so much attention. Bieee

  26. meme says:

    I’m 18 and arab, born and raised in ny, ever since this show appeared
    (but I never did tune in) I never relized how people veiw my beliefs ,
    by seeing the anti muslim groups on facebook and reading bout
    organizations in florida, ignorance spreads fast, I mean lookin at
    me and my family u would think our roots are from America but
    I take pride in my islamic belief, which is why I find this ironic,
    cause all iv ever knew about islam was peace peace peace, and
    anything else like mischeif,gossiping and cursing I was scoleded for,
    But since there are bad apples in my society the rest of us got to
    suffer the scrutiny, I hope before I die I see it disapear, real good article though,
    will deffintitly look into it more mabe check this show out since it captures so much attention. Bieee

  27. @G.A.Phillips:

    One can hope, I hear they just beheaded some chick for practicing witchcraft and sorcery, but it did not say what kind

    The Bible also says that witches should be put to death. Are you suggesting the Bible is wrong?

  28. Ron Beasley says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Conservatives like G.A. Phillips love the Bible except for the parts they don’t. They quote Leviticus while eating pork and shell fish. They treat the constitution the same way.

  29. mattb says:

    @Ron Beasley:
    Not to mention the types who so love the bible (including Leviticus) that they get tattoos of verses. 😉

  30. Gold Star for Robot Boy says:

    Just cut up my Lowe’s card, and I’ll be handing the pieces to a store in about an hour.

    I was already pissed at them for a lousy door installation job (no, door guy, do NOT dump sawdust in a neat pile in my front yard), and now I can go shop at Home Despot with a clean conscience.

  31. rodney dill says:

    Hmmm… now that the subject comes up I think I’m headed to the Kabob House for hummus and a kafta sandwich for lunch. Don’t think I’ll avoid Lowes, not that I to there much. Home Depot is closer. Seems too much like an overreaction to outright boycott Lowes.

  32. anjin-san says:

    Hey me too, but I am sure that they are not practicing Islam….

    I have a Muslim co worker who is one of the folks I am referring to. I am very certain that he is a practicing Musiim.

    Why don’t you take your ignorance to Wiz Bang or bit’s blog? It will be welcomed with open arms.

  33. G.A.Phillips says:

    The Bible also says that witches should be put to death. Are you suggesting the Bible is wrong?

    Wrong about what Stormy? Hermeneutics Stormy, Hermeneutics….

    Conservatives like G.A. Phillips love the Bible except for the parts they don’t. They quote Leviticus while eating pork and shell fish. They treat the constitution the same way

    lol, sigh….I have have a bible telecasters degree from the 7 day adventists too. Hermeneutics Ron, Hermeneutics…

    I have a Muslim co worker who is one of the folks I am referring to. I am very certain that he is a practicing Muslim.

    Why don’t you take your ignorance to Wiz Bang or bit’s blog? It will be welcomed with open arms.

    I’ll bet he don’t, doctrine of abrogation Anjin doctrine of abrogation……

    So then, I think boycotting this show is stupid and against the constitution and does not serve True Christianity and our fight against religious persecution or speech control. I am also against boycotting most any place of legal business for the sake of the livelihoods of the workers and the owners unless they are like murdering babies there or something foul and evil and completely villainous like that. That does not mean I would not stop sprending my money there for lesser reason if you can understand the difference.

    You know me Anjin and how I think. You don’t remember when this site was almost completely conservative comments and we only and a few libbugs like you? Man…..

  34. mattb says:

    @G.A.Phillips:

    I appreciate how you allow hermeneutics to apply to one religion (and religious text) but not to another. Or is it just that hermeneutics is only allowed to be done on the bible and we have to read every other text literally.

    Beyond that, it says a lot that you consider a boycott to be “against the constitution” … care to explain that logic?

    Or is this one of your “humorous” posts.

  35. mattb says:

    BTW, I’d like to take it as a good sign that — beyond G.A. — there wasn’t another commenter who attempted to support for the ugly logic or position being pushed by the Florida Family Association.

  36. Mark Hicks says:

    This islamic degenerate needs to have her head cut off like her religion demands it of anyone else. All this bullshit it’s a religion of peace if a damn lie and she’s only doing one thing and that’s doing like her ‘bible’ says and convince infidels of islamis superiority. Don’t buy this bullshit for a minute. Check islam for yourself. You’ll find that their buylaws DEMAND they kill you if you don’t do as they command you. As if they have some right over every other living soul on this planet.

    Death to islam! Death to their moon god allah. I will never buy another Dell or sell another Dell if I find Dell is in support of islam!!! There are more of us who know the truth that there are idiots who believe their damn lies!

  37. @G.A.Phillips:

    I have have a bible telecasters degree from the 7 day adventists too.

    Dole Office Clerk: Occupation?
    Comicus: Stand-up philosopher.
    Dole Office Clerk: What?
    Comicus: Stand-up philosopher. I coalesce the vapors of human experience into a viable and meaningful comprehension.
    Dole Office Clerk: Oh, a *bullshit* artist!

  38. G.A.Phillips says:

    beyond G.A. — there wasn’t another commenter who attempted to support for the ugly logic or position being pushed by the Florida Family Association.

    I did not support them

    I appreciate how you allow hermeneutics to apply to one religion (and religious text) but not to another. Or is it just that hermeneutics is only allowed to be done on the bible and we have to read every other text literally

    ok sure, use it on the Bible and then use it on the Koran…Perhaps you can find one of the original 7 …….. doctrine of abrogation Mattb, doctrine of abrogation….

    Beyond that, it says a lot that you consider a boycott to be “against the constitution” … care to explain that logic?

    Of the show, hermeneutics, Mattb hermeneutics….

    Stormy Dragon is was pointing out to Ron I might know a bit about the subject that he attacked with as it seems he clearly does not, and was joking…Geez….

  39. mattb says:

    @G.A.Phillips:
    Dude, I have to complement you on your new beat/dadist turn. I think you could have a real chance of filling the gap left by the sad passing of Wesley Willis.

  40. pcbedamned says:

    @G.A.Phillips:

    You don’t remember when this site was almost completely conservative comments and we only and a few libbugs like you? Man…..

    I remember when this site was mostly conservative – that is why I first became a reader here. Then way too many of the ‘must read’ sites went batshit crazy.
    This site didn’t.
    And that is why I still come here…

  41. anjin-san says:

    Serious question GA – do you think God is pleased when he sees how full of hate your heart is?

  42. mattb says:

    @pcbedamned:
    I missed those days and long for a future when there would be more sustained thoughtful conservative commenting (and with it debate) on OTB.

  43. Leah says:

    Musliums go back where you came from your not wanted here YAY Lowes it’s about time someone stands up HELL if we went to your countries and tried our ways WE”D BE SHOT and HUNG BY THE BALLS loooserrs

  44. Raymond Gardner says:

    @ponce: Home depot dropped the program too.

  45. Raymond Gardner says:

    @ponce home depot dropped the show too.