Flunking Sainthood

Flunking Sainthood


How American is “All-American Muslim”?: Not Enough

posted by Jana Riess
YouTube Preview Image

The news is filled today with reports that Lowe’s and other major corporations have pulled advertising from the new TLC series All-American Muslim, caving to the demands of the right-wing Florida Family Association. The FFA says it is concerned that the show is:

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

So it has generated its very own propaganda in response, targeting the companies that advertise on TLC and threatening to boycott them if they continue to present Islam in a flattering or even neutral light.

What is the series that is generating such controversy? In typical reality show fashion, we meet five families in Dearborn, Michigan, and chronicle their ups and downs as they adhere to the demands of their religion while navigating contemporary American life. Contra to reality show fashion, these families all seem unusually functional, close, and happy. Probably that is what the FFA has deemed so dangerous: Muslims take their kids out for ice cream. They coach the local football team. They celebrate with wonder the birth of a child, then worry about that child incessantly for the next half century or longer.

What I love most about the series is the nasal Michigan accents of the families chosen. This highlights the fact that many immigrant-culture Muslims in America have been here for generations; in Dearborn, they came in the early 20th century to work in the factory of a certain upstart named Henry Ford. They are Mom and apple pie. Wait, with the accent make that Maaaam and epple pie.

But here is the biggest problem with All-American Muslim: it’s not that it skews portrayals of Islam so far to the left that it makes the religion seem homegrown. It’s that it doesn’t go far enough in showing the thoroughgoing Americanness of Islam today. By focusing on immigrants and their descendants, the series entirely ignores the fact that approximately 25%-30% of American Muslims are African Americans, born and raised here, also loving Mom and apple pie. If there is an ethnic bias to the series, it’s how anxious the show has been to make Muslims seem not just American, but white. Of the five families featured, not one is black. If the series had been set in nearby Detroit rather than Dearborn, we’d see a very different story.

One thing is certain, though; boycotts work both ways. Those new kitchen knobs and pulls I’m planning to shop for over the Christmas holidays? Lowe’s won’t be getting my business anytime soon.

 



  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment PamelaJaye

    I’ve been seeing some really cute commercials from Ace Hardware (they aren’t kidding in their old jingle either – they taught my roommate how to fix the faucets from the bathroom to the backyard) I don’t know if they sell cabinet knobs… That ubiquitous 20% off coupon from Bed Bath and Beyond came in very handy when I bought my vacuum (which I really wanted to buy at Target but they wouldn’t match)

    I don’t know if our neighbors when I was very little were Muslim, but they had names like Abdullah. Another fictional thing springs to mind: there’s an ep of Family Ties where the parents tell the kids that their neighborhood was much more diverse when they moved in…

  • http:.//annmjohnson.wordpress.com Course Correction

    Boycott Lowes for caving into the Florida Family Association–Great idea. I’m going to join your protest!

Previous Posts

Another blog to enjoy!!!
Thank you for visiting Flunking Sainthood. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here is another blog you may also enjoy: Fellowship of Saints and Sinners Happy Reading!!!

posted 3:12:01pm Jul. 05, 2012 | read full post »

Thank You, Flunking Sainthood Readers!
OK, I admit it. I have a Google Alert on the title Flunking Sainthood, so that the search engine lets me know when there are new reviews or discussions about the book. In the last few weeks it has been exciting -- and humbling -- to see the many different kinds of people who are reading and talking

posted 12:41:10pm Jan. 25, 2012 | read full post »

NYC Conference on Mormonism & American Politics, February 3-4
"First Mitt won Iowa, then he lost Iowa? That's a classic Romney flip-flop." --Stephen Colbert     Working with the theory that there hasn't been nearly enough attention to Mormonism and politics this year, what with it being in the news every single day and all, Randy Balmer and I

posted 11:09:19am Jan. 23, 2012 | read full post »

Writing Retreat
Friends, I will be offline until January 23 for a writing retreat. I'm bringing my computer, but the place where I am going doesn't have email access

posted 8:47:20pm Jan. 14, 2012 | read full post »

Fun with the Book of Lamentations
Actually, no. That title was just a teaser. There really aren't any fun moments in the Book of

posted 11:33:13am Jan. 13, 2012 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.