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.