I do my best to avoid news; I find it repetitive and depressing. My sister blogged about this last week, and after being particularly bored at work today, I decided to adventure into the ‘news’ tab of my search engine of choice (which is currently Bing because you can earn points and redeem them for points to use on my XBOX account). As usual, I digress. I spent a good amount of time this morning reading up about Lowe’s and their recent controversy.
I’ve said this so many times on this blog I hope it doesn’t get tired, but I’m Muslim. I know that many of you think of this as some foreign and terrifying concept, let me be the first to tell you that just because I don’t worship the same ‘God’ you think you do, newsflash – I do. God is God is God. So please, check the close-mindedness at the door, if you’re capable. I do often feel that when people find out I’m Muslim, no matter the venue, real life or online, people are immediately on edge. But this blog isn’t about that, though I could go on about it quite a bit (and how I’m a double-agent at times because I don’t look Muslim, so I can often fly under the radar and find out what people really think).
Lowe’s has decided to pull of their advertising for a TLC show called ‘All-American Muslim.’ I’m not a fan of reality shows, and judging on the ‘characters,’ I myself don’t identify with the show much, but for Lowe’s to be so pointed in their removal is curious, to say the least. A Christian Right organisation (and I saw a hilarious bumper sticker which said ‘Christian Right is Neither’ and found it quite clever), sent a note to Lowe’s telling them that they disagreed with the show and that it was abhorrent. According to Kayak, who also pulled their advertising, they were ‘not upfront’ on what the show would be about. With a title like ‘All-American Muslim’ I fail to see how you could misconstrue that. The president of Kayak also went on to say the show ‘sucked’ which I didn’t realise being a president of a website about travel had any jurisdiction on the quality of television programming, but I suppose anything goes.
I’m astounded that Lowe’s would react to the plea from the group, though they say the decision was made before that. It is interesting to note the letter they received from Florida Family Association (FFA) came right before they made this decision, coincidence? Not a chance. I mean, how stupid do they think the American populace is? Don’t answer that, we all know the answer is ‘very.’
I’m troubled by the comments from the Kayak rep and from the reactionary tactics taken by Lowe’s. Some naysayer contingents will argue that Lowe’s can spend their advertising dollars where they like, and while that is true, it is hard to argue the straight facts, that once the company was being thought of in a bad light by a small group of people fuelling hatred they changed their stance. And what did FFA say that the show promotes terrorism. At first I didn’t understand what they mean, but it dawned on me, anything related to Islam or Muslims and most Christian extremists cry foul. It doesn’t matter that the show is as benign as any other reality show, it isn’t promoting anything. Now, it would be naïve of me to ignore the fact that TLC knew that they were creating a show that would create this sort of buzz. TLC did this as a way to create some talk about their programming; they had to know that a show following a Muslim family would garner special attention. Of course, the ratings have been decent, for a TLC show, but this Lowe’s rubbish has actually helped the cause of the show. People are watching, so to speak.
It’s interesting, really. Lowe’s thought they would remove themselves from controversy by pulling their advertising but in fact, by pulling their advertising amid the outcries of a hate-group they’ve embroiled themselves in said controversy. I can’t say that I shop much at Lowe’s or Kayak, for that matter. But after everything I’ve read, I have to be honest, I won’t be patronising either company anytime soon. While both have the right to do as they please with their money, so do I, and so do you. Thousands of people have signed petitions and boycotted both companies, I think I’ll be joining that movement, and I hope that others will do the same. Under no circumstances should we encourage organisations like FFA dictate what is permissible in our advertising or on our TVs. Until the FFA becomes the FCC, they have no right to assume that Muslims, gays or any other group is not allowed to exist because they say so. And for both Lowe’s and Kayak to quell at their very whimper is pathetic.
What makes it worse is that the show did humanise what is, up until now, considered taboo; the idea that Muslim Americans are no different than any other American. It is nice to see attention drawn to the show, but this sort of attention takes away from the message that Muslims aren’t out to destroy the world, we are like everyone else and to act like we’re poison is childish.
I doubt that either Lowe’s or Kayak will learn from their close-minded and hate-filled behaviour, but we can all do something ourselves. As per usual, I have a Call to Action; it’s like my calling card. I don’t know of any petitions that will make a difference at this point, but to faceless, big-box companies, there is only one language they understand, money. I don’t do any home improving, I get lost in those stores, but I’ll be exclusively shopping at Home Depot until further notice. I also don’t use travel sites really, but if I do, it won’t be Kayak. Join me, if you like, or at the very least, Google or Bing the stories and decide for yourself. But if you’ve ever been in a fringe group, been treated unfairly, or just hate home improvement stores, then join me in boycotting a few people who apparently don’t want my money because it’s tainted.