Posted by on December 12, 2011 in Blog

A few days ago, a right-wing group in Florida protested the TLC series “All American Muslim” on the grounds that “the show profiles only Muslims that appear to be ordinary folks” and not violent jihadists, demanding that advertisers pull their ads from the show. The result? Advertisers, including the national hardware chain Lowe’s, pulled their advertisements.

Now, let’s do a quick thought experiment: imagine if a white supremacist group called advertisers on the Bill Cosby show demanding they pull their ads because the show only featured African-Americans who “appear to be ordinary folks” and not gangsters and bank robbers. Or imagine if an anti-Semitic group complained that a TV show portrayed American Jews as “ordinary folks” and not greedy bankers. Can you imagine a national chain acquiescing to their demands? It’s almost inconceivable, as companies would be deterred by an inevitable backlash if they were to succumb to such bigoted pressure. However, bigotry towards Muslims seems to be the glaring exception to our political culture’s intolerance for bigotry.

Islamophobia’s growth over the past decade has been interesting: first it was lectures by professional bigots on college campuses, then it penetrated mainstream media outlets, then it made its way into presidential politics, and now it is causing mainstream companies to withdraw advertisements from shows on mainstream networks.  What more will it take before we are legitimately alarmed by this hate wave? Now is the time to take the threat of Islamophobia seriously, and to come together as people of conscience to push back immediately and forcefully.

First things first: Lowe’s has to be held to account for spinelessly succumbing to the pressure of hate groups, a fact further emphasized by their ridiculous “explanation” of their position, which explained nothing other than the fact that people have different views (like we needed Lowe’s to tell us as much). Lowe’s should be called (1-800-445-6937), emailedFacebooked, and tweeted (@Lowes) and told that they will be boycotted until they reverse their shameful and contemptible decision to withdraw their advertising from All American Muslim. Groups have emerged on social media where people are organizing and petitions are circulating, so be sure to plug in where you find it suitable so we can coordinate our next steps.

It is also important to understand the wider problem of Islamophobia we’re dealing with. In a video I made earlier this year refuting anti-Muslim myths, I noted that anti-Muslim professionals have worked tirelessly since 9/11 to create the toxic climate we have today. A few months later, the Center for American Progress put out a comprehensive report outlining the anti-Muslim industry in the U.S. But it’s neither the Islamophobes’ tireless work nor their elaborate industry that’s most concerning, it is that parts of the political establishment in this country have embraced Islamophobia and afforded legitimacy to their bigotry. When prominent figures and political leaders like Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, and others repeat the absurd talking points of Islamophobes, they afford unwarranted legitimacy to intolerance and pave the way for its growth.

We can shake our heads, complain, and put off dealing with an even more widespread manifestation of Islamophobia, or we can begin to take responsibility to fight back with some urgency, write our local papers, contact our elected officials, support our national organizations, get engaged in the political process, and make our voices heard now. What will it be?


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