Thursday, December 22, 2011

Time to Boycott Lowe's?

America has evolved. At least in law and theory, discrimination is no longer acceptable. It is not longer acceptable to discriminated against African Americans, Jews, Catholics, women and the physically disabled. Nowadays, even the most rabid reactionaries try to avoid being labeled as racist.

However, it remains acceptable to discriminate against and to hate Muslims. Mainstream politicians openly express hatred against Muslims with impunity.

The most recent example of this hatred is the Lowe's situation. Under pressure from the Florida Family Association, Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse decided to pull advertising from the All American Muslim program on TLC. The Florida Family Association opposes the show the following reasons:
"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."
The Florida Family Association's argument is absurd. That is analogous to condemning the Cosby Show for excluding drug dealers, gangsters, buffoons, hoochie mamas, pimps, and "welfare queens" from the show.

In preparation for this article, I watched a couple episodes of All American Muslim. It is a wholesome family show. The viewers see mothers give birth, men coach football, boys play sports, families discuss business ventures, families dining together, people attending religious services and people working. We see Muslims, religious and non-religious, doing things that normal, ordinary people do. That is too much for the Florida Family Association.

They call it propaganda because it does not fit their narrow, stereotypical image of Muslims. The Florida Family Association does not want people to see positive images of Islam and Muslim like this.

Instead, the images below are what they want the world to see when they think about Islam and Muslims.

They can only envision Muslims as wife beating, turbaned, gun toting, suicide vest wearing maniacs. They cannot see Muslims as fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, police officers, doctors, coaches, business people or as patriotic Americans. As far as Florida Family Association is concerned, any attempt to portray Muslims as typical American citizens must be propaganda. This is no different from antisemitism. It must be condemned as antisemitism is condemned.

When Muslim groups complained about Lowe's decision to cancel advertising on All American Muslim, according to The Hollywood Reporter, Lowe's issued this lame "apology":
"It appears that we managed to step into a hotly contested debate with strong views from virtually every angle and perspective – social, political and otherwise – and we’ve managed to make some people very unhappy. We are sincerely sorry. We have a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion, across our workforce and our customers, and we’re proud of that longstanding commitment.

Lowe’s has received a significant amount of communication on this program, from every perspective possible. Individuals and groups have strong political and societal views on this topic, and this program became a lighting rod for many of those views. As a result we did pull our advertising on this program. We believe it is best to respectfully defer to communities, individuals and groups to discuss and consider such issues of importance.

We strongly support and respect the right of our customers, the community at large, and our employees to have different views. If we have made anyone question that commitment, we apologize.

Thank you for allowing us to further explain our position."
If Lowe's truly supports diversity, it would not defer to bigots like the Florida Family Association. Lowe's should be ashamed of itself for bowing down to the demands of bigots.

All people of good will should urge Lowe's to reject bigotry. If Lowe's does not understand the language of tolerance and acceptance, maybe they will understand the language of money and boycott.

This article is cross-posted on Jack and Jill Politics.

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