I am not a fan of so-called “reality television,” but today I found myself thinking that the genre may well be educational. Well, perhaps not the genre itself, but rather the outrage Lowe’s decision to pull advertising from TLC’s All-American Muslim has unleashed.
I for one had never heard of the show before reports of Lowe’s bowing to pressure from the Florida Family Association, a conservative Christian TV protest group, hit the news. Apparently, I wasn’t alone: Sunday’s episode of the show drew 908,000 viewers, down from the 1.7 million who tuned in for its Nov. 13 premiere; even by TLC standards, these are not big numbers.
According to the TLC website, the eight-episode series
takes a look at life in Dearborn, Michigan–home to the largest mosque in the United States–through the lens of five Muslim American families.
Each episode offers an intimate look at the customs and celebrations, misconceptions and conflicts these families face outside and within their own community.
In other words, the show looks at the lives of several Muslim families in Dearborn, showing them in such roles as a high-school football coach and a party planner. The show, produces claim, also tackles issues including assimilation, interfaith marriage and conversion, women and careers, the wearing of women’s head covering and society’s view of their heritage and religion. Sounds like it might be interesting, right?
Well, the Florida Family Association has a very different take on the show:
The Learning Channel’s new show All-American Muslim is propaganda clearly designed to counter legitimate and present-day concerns about many Muslims who are advancing Islamic fundamentalism and Sharia law. 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 liberties and traditional values that the majority of Americans cherish.
So the Florida Family Association’s beef isn’t that TLC has a show about American Muslims, as I at first thought, it’s that TLC has a show about American Muslims that doesn’t portray them as religious zealots and terrorists.
The religious zealots, of course, are the Florida Family Association (FFA) lead by David Caton. Before this controversy, I didn’t know anything about organization, but after a little digging it became clear that while small, the group wields some power. Although not affiliated with the American Family Association, the Florida Family Association shares its name with and has been applauded by American Family Association president Don Wildmon. The two groups also share a hatred of anything they view as not fundamentally Christian. (See the Southern Poverty Law Center’s account of the AFA)
What I’ve learned is that the FFA has a long history of promoting Christian hate. The group often targets gay and lesbian communities, has opposed initiatives to prevent the bullying of gay and lesbian children, and has targeted numerous television programs that portray members of the LGBT community as normal, happy, productive members of society. In addition the FFA is dedicated to spreading hatred for Muslims and Islam. According to Right Wing Watch
- The FFA created a highly-edited video that tries to make President Obama appear to be Muslim and derided the “extraordinarily strong bond that President Barack Obama has with Islam.”
- The group went after Campbell’s soup for boosting the “advancement of Islam and Sharia law in the United States” because the company made halal soups and sponsored a conference held by a Canadian Muslim relief organization.
and the list goes on.
I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that some corporation caved to pressure from Christian extremists. It’s happened before, and unfortunately it will happen again. But among the legacy of lunacy, the argument that All-American Muslim is propaganda because it shows American Muslims living peacefully in Dearborn. MI, reaches a new low in bigotry and hate.