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How to Respond to Our All-American Muslim Neighbors


Dec 13 2011
And how to respond to absurd boycotts, for that matter.

Lowe's national retail chain, following a conservative Christian group's call for businesses to boycott advertising on a new TLC reality show about Muslims, pulled its advertisements from All-American Muslim. The Florida Family Association (FFA) claims the series, which follows five families in and around Dearborn, Michigan, is nothing more than propaganda masking a radical Islamic agenda. Though the FFA suggests over 60 other advertisers have also pulled their ad dollars, these reports have not yet been confirmed. In any case, Lowe's has borne the brunt of media criticism for pulling their ads from the show.

The FFA's odd beef with All-American Muslim is that the Muslims being featured are not radical enough. One is a high-school football coach. One is expecting her first child. Another goes shopping for the traditional hijab after abandoning it following September 11. With the exception of shopping list items, these folks feel pretty similar to most middle-class Americans. But not according to FFA, which says "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 and traditional values that the majority of Americans cherish."

FFA's twisty logic is subtle, so don't miss it. By using the phrase "appear to be," FFA is not willing to admit that these Muslim Americans might actually be ordinary folks. Rather, to support the imaginary agenda—and to promote their own—the organization maintains the story that somehow, TLC producers are tricking us by presenting those who "appear" to be ordinary.

The group is right about one thing: Someone is masking reality to promote a radical social agenda. I just don't think it's the families in Michigan. In fact, when I tune in on Sunday night to meet these families from the safety of my living room, I fully expect that the elusive liberties and values cherished by the majority of Americans are also cherished by these American families. We'll see.

Meanwhile, I suspect that FFA founder David Caton won't be tuning in. Recently appearing on ABC News's World News, Caton insisted, "This program creates an image that's harmful, education-wise, to the beliefs, structure and memories of millions of Americans who will look at this and say, 'Well, all Muslims are like that,' when it's not accurate."

If Caton's statement is confusing, you're not alone. As a reality barometer, ask yourself if it would be more or less true to invert Caton's statement, asserting, "This program creates an image that's not harmful, to the beliefs, structure and memories of millions of Americans." Would it more true or less true to say, "Not all Muslims are radical extremists"? Sadly, Caton has distorted truth to suit his group's ends.

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How to Respond to Our All-American Muslim Neighbors