The Real Issue in the Lowe’s vs. ‘All-American Muslim’ Debate

Senior Pop Culture Editor
12.13.11 81 Comments

“All-American Muslim” airs on Sunday nights on TLC. It’s about five Muslim families living in Dearborn, Michigan, the city with the highest Muslim community in the country. According to Amy Winter, TLC’s general manager, her network wanted to show that “these are families that might have beliefs that are different than yours, but we are all living similar daily lives and hopefully we will bring that to light.”

A few days ago, hardware store giant Lowe’s pulled its advertising from “Muslim,” due to threats of a protest from the Florida Family Association. (Florida is the worst.) In a statement, the FFA, led by David Caton, said, “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…that the majority of Americans cherish.”

(The FFA has a long history of pointing their bigoted blame on TV shows, like “Modern Family” because of Cam and Mitchell and “Degrassi” because of everything. Their website is currently down, due to a much-deserved hacking effort, so you won’t be able to enjoy their official ignorance until later.)

Many people are pissed at Lowe’s pulling their ad money from the show, but I don’t think the overpriced big-box retailer is really the problem; it’s a business decision and at least they gave some money in the first place, even though they knew the show was going to be a lightning rod for controversy. Focusing on that part of the issue is like worrying about a single flea when you’ve already got the Bubonic Plague. The real issue at hand is that it’s 2011 (almost 2012!), and we’re still fu*king afraid of a TV show about Muslims.

My fiancée is Muslim (she was born here, her parents in Bangladesh) and I’ve bared witness to verbal hate crimes thrown her way, so maybe that’s why I’m particularly sensitive to this issue. (And why I apologize for the serious’ish tone and lack of dick jokes in this post – I tried to fit one in, and it just didn’t work…Oh wait.) I’ve also watched “All-American Muslim” and it’s a very good series; it’s what reality shows should be. The unscripted “All-American Muslims” is doing for Muslims what “The Cosby Show” did for African-Americans – showing different religions and races without stereotypes to Christian white people, basically. And considering 61% of the country doesn’t personally know a Muslim, it’s an important show, too. We live in a society where pop culture dictates the mainstream, so rather than protest a big-box (that probably won’t feel a dent in their profits anyways) to prove you’re mad at their decision, watch “All-American Muslim” instead. TLC won’t cancel a highly rated show, and that influence you hold is more powerful than any poorly made hammer you can buy at Lowe’s.

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