“All-American Muslim” is a TLC reality show about five Muslim families in Dearborn, Michigan. According to TLC, “Each episode offers an intimate look at the customs and celebrations, misconceptions and conflicts these families face outside and within their own community.” The hardware and home improvement chain Lowe’s, one of the advertisers originally supporting the show, has cancelled its commercials because after the Florida Family Association complained, saying the program is “propaganda that riskily hides the Islamic agenda’s clear and present danger to American liberties and traditional values.” They are urging all advertisers to drop their affiliation with the series.
My friend Christian Toto thoughtfully reviewed “All-American Muslim” for the conservative website Big Hollywood and did not find what the FFA charged:
At times, the show feels like an extended public relations video for hardworking Muslims to show their fellow citizens they have nothing to fear. But “All-American Muslim” is honest enough about some less flattering components of the Islamic faith to keep our respect. And watching an Irish-Catholic family merge peacefully with a Muslim clan reminds us our differences truly can make us stronger – no more how treacly that might sound.
What’s more, “Muslim” makes the case that American culture can have a positive effect on a religion which has festered in some repressive societies. The families of “All-American Muslim” have incorporated the best of their own religion with their American roots.
In responding to the shrill attack from a small group of activists to try to avoid controversy, Lowe’s has only made it worse. A state senator from California has called for them to apologize for what he calls “naked religious bigotry.” Music executive, social activist, founder of a center for inter-racial and interfaith harmony (and brother of a pastor) Russell Simmons has said, “this is the kind of hate that tears this country apart.”
Lowe’s response: “Individuals and groups have strong political and societal views on this topic, and this program became a lightning rod for many of those views,” the statement said. “As a result we did pull our advertising on this program. We believe it is best to respectfully defer to communities, individuals and groups to discuss and consider such issues of importance.”
As a Muslim poster wrote on Facebook, even Muslims who did not care for the show will watch it now. In attempting to silence the program, the FFA has only generated more interest and support for it. In attempting to appease one group of extremists, Lowe’s has infuriated a broader group and found itself better known at this moment for the controversy than for its products and services. A shame that all of this was generated from a television program intended to promote tolerance and understanding.