Lowe’s home improvement stores confirmed last week that, in response to agitation from an anti-Muslim group, they had pulled their advertising from TLC’s All American Muslim, a reality TV show that follows the lives of five mainstream Muslim families in Dearborn, Michigan.
In taking this action, Lowe’s has effectively affirmed the statement of the organization, the Florida Family Association, that: “TLC’s ‘All-American Muslim’ is propaganda that riskily hides the Islamic agenda’s clear and present danger to American liberties and traditional values.”
To portray the majority of Muslims as “dangerous to American liberties and traditional values” is not only hateful and bigoted, it is wildly inaccurate. Of course, bigotry is never based on accuracy, it simply confuses the exception for the rule. Are there dangerous extremists Muslims? Certainly there are. Are there dangerous extremists non-Muslims in the United States? Clearly. The Florida Family Association has provided one more example.
One might argue that Lowe’s has every right to advertise, or not advertise, where and when they like, and that is true. In this case, however, it is too late for them to be neutral. The act of pulling the advertising and thus caving to pressure from anti-Muslim extremists has had, and will continue to have, consequences. It has been shocking and hurtful to many Americans, especially Muslim Americans. It has been damaging to the public image of Lowe’s. I suspect it will be significantly damaging to their business as well.
According to the Florida Family Association, an accurate portrayal of American Muslims would be that they are dangerous and hostile to American liberties and traditional values. Portraying Muslims as “ordinary” Americans who play football, have children, cook dinner and watch TV is risky propaganda. What is risky about it, apparently, is that it challenges the FFA’s cherished stereotypes with reality. It is hard to see how that line of reasoning is different from arguing that the Cosby Show was risky because it portrayed African-Americans as “ordinary,” rather than the drug dealing thugs that racist stereotypes would make them out to be. That’s an extremely offensive and inaccurate idea, of course, but there are fringe groups who would passionately agree with it, and it is entirely analogous to the objections to this TV show.
Should the actions of a large American corporation be dictated by that kind of group? Lowe’s, which is based in Mooresville, North Carolina, is not only representing themselves badly, but reflecting poorly on our state. This is an unfortunate and regressive chapter in North Carolina’s struggle with our history, our identity and our future.
I don’t envy Lowe’s their public relations predicament. In strictly pragmatic terms, this will be costly for them regardless of what they do. In terms of justice, however, the path is clear. Stand against bigotry and for a vision of America that embraces diversity and pluralism, foundational values of our nation.
–David LaMotte, Consultant for Peace
Sign a petition calling on Lowe’s to reverse its decision and apologize by going here.