Q. Home improvement store Lowe's has pulled its advertising from the TLC reality show “All-American Muslim” because of a campaign by the conservative Florida Family Assn. The FFA claims that “'All-American Muslim' is propaganda that riskily hides the Islamic agenda’s clear and present danger to American liberties and traditional values.” Residents in Dearborn, Mich., where the show is filmed, called the move “a slap in the face of our rich American diversity.”

In an email to the FFA, Lowe's said, “[T]here are certain programs that do not meet Lowe’s advertising guidelines, including the show you brought to our attention. Lowe’s will no longer be advertising on that [All American Muslim] program.”

The show, launched in November, follows the lives of a group of Muslims in Dearborn, which is home to the largest number of Muslims in America, and has been praised for providing an insight into the lives of American Muslims. A review in the Los Angeles Times said, “[T]he general impression is one of a lot of nice people — most of them Dearborn born-and-bred, solid Midwesterners with Middle Eastern roots — trying to lead happy lives.”

The backlash against Lowe's has been quick and vociferous, with thousands of comments on its Facebook page and hundreds of blog posts attacking its move. The hacker group Anonymous even brought down the FFA's website on Dec. 13, just hours after the announcement.

On the other hand, many support the FFA and Lowe's stance. The blog www.barenakedislam.com, which labeled “All-American Muslim” a “shameful propaganda program,” said in a post, “BNI and its readers send heartfelt thanks to the Florida Family Association for their help in educating TLC advertisers about the fraud being perpetrated by that show re: Islamic community in this country.”

Has Lowe's acted correctly in pulling its advertising from the show?

When I first heard that Lowe's had pulled its ad, I was furious — but then I realized that other businesses had pulled their ads, too. So the problem isn't only with Lowe's. Also, shouldn't businesses be able to make free choices about with whom they advertise? Of course they should.

The deeper and more insidious issue (other than lily-livered advertisers being bullied by the FFA — what's that stand for, anyway, “Fervent Fanatics of America”?) is the refusal of some folks in America to realize that not all Muslims are fanatics. I just hope that Muslims and Jews realize that not all Christians are fanatics.

The Dearborn, Mich., Muslim community has been there since long before 9/11. Believe it or not, some Muslims came to America to escape the oppression of their native countries, and for the same reasons some of our forefathers came: to worship in peace, to have a safe place to live and to raise a family. So to tar all Muslims with the same brush is criminal, and about as unChristian and unAmerican as you can get.

I wasn't alive when Pearl Harbor happened, but I'm ashamed of what my country did then. The good ol' Land of the Free, Home of the Brave rounded up anybody with a Japanese name (at least on the West Coast), took away their businesses, and shipped them off to concentration camps. We had a reason: They looked like the enemy. And we were afraid.

Fear does crazy things to some people. Remember the old Twilight Zone episode called, “Monsters on Main Street”? It showed what fear can do to a civilized people. So I'm ashamed of Lowe's and other advertisers who knuckled under to bigotry. But I'll save my deeper disgust for the Freaking Fanatics of America. It's Christmas, FFA, so don't forget to go to church. Blecchh!

The Rev. Skip Lindeman

La Cañada Congregational Church

La Cañada Flintridge

 

By pulling its advertising from a show that has no agenda other than simply following the daily lives of a group of American Muslims, Lowe’s has demonstrated a clear lack of business and ethical principles.

Lowe’s unfortunate action makes it obvious that its organizational environment is not grounded in basic ethical values of diversity that is commonplace in corporate America — the authentic diversity that makes both business sense and advances our nation to be truly exceptional among nations as engraved on the Statue of Liberty in New York: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

No other country on earth values and thrives on diversity like the U.S. But instead of celebrating that diversity, Lowe’s has chosen to pander to an extremist organization such as the Florida Family Association, a narrow-minded special-interest group that seeks to trash our shared values of religious freedom and equal treatment of all faiths. By making the absurd claim that the show hides “the Islamic agenda’s clear and present danger to American liberties and traditional values,” FFA — and, in turn, Lowe’s, by succumbing to FFA’s demands — demonstrates its complete ignorance of Islam and American Muslims, promoting Islamophobia and spreading hate and bigotry instead of the shared religious values of neighborly love and mutual understanding.

Lowe’s corporate culture needs a fundamental shift, either through replacing its management team or retraining that team’s members, so that it would begin to value the time-honored American tradition of diversity and embody the corporate standards of most American companies.