BIW Versus Lowe's

I was absolutely shocked to learn yesterday that Lowe's home improvement stores have pulled their advertising from TLC's "American Muslim" television show. American Muslim is a show that I was really excited about--I'm all about getting to know other cultures because it promotes understanding and equality. I have been watching the show since the beginning, and I have to say, I love it.

The show gives a picture of Deerborn, Michigan, a town which happens to have the largest concentration of Muslim-Americans. There are a variety of characters, from those who wear the hijab (the headscarf) to those who do not. There are muslims who are more traditional, and those that buck some traditions while maintaining others. Like any group of people who share a religion, the people are diverse and range from devout to nontraditional and everything in between. The show is not only fascinating, but normalizes our diversity by celebrating it and [perhaps most importantly] speaking about it.

That is why I was shocked to see that Lowe's would pull their advertising from such a show! They caved under minor scrutiny, saying that advertising during the show has "become a lightening rod." It's frankly the biggest load of bullshit I have heard in a while, and I think that Lowe's should be ashamed of themselves for pulling their ads. It also speaks to the level of fear that permeates our society.

The show American Muslim is meant to bridge a gap in thinking that the American people have become accustomed to. After 9-11, there was a distinct air of fear, not for the group isolated as terrorists, but for the religion of Islam. Fear is a fairly normal reaction to such traumatic events, and I can understand this--anyone can understand this. But we are no longer in the reactionary phase of a traumatic event. We are, in fact, much past it. Ten years past it to be exact. Now is a time of understanding. We all exist in this world and we ought to learn to understand one another.

When a company caves to the desires of ignorance, I just cannot abide that. Companies should be willing to stand by their decisions, and certainly something as small as advertising should not be a cause for concern. Some have publicly criticized the show for glazing over the "real" facts of the islam religion and muslim communities and to those people I have to say without hesitation that they are fucking ignorant and need to stuff it.

Perhaps I sympathize with this scenario because for so very long Italian people in this country faced a lot of scrutiny. They were outsiders--ostracized for their cuisine, their accents, their traditions, etc. When I was a baby, my father changed my last name from Arbuiso to Nichols because he didn't want people to judge our family... whether this decision came from fear, I can't say. What I can say is that to discriminate against any group of people is unintelligent.

As long as we seek ways to divide ourselves, we will always have a hard time as a human race. One would think that a company like Lowe's would support education on our country's diversity and be ready to stand firm. Apparently, though, we've got a longer way to go than I imagined. I find that just a bit disturbing....

I encourage everyone to watch TLC's "American Muslim" and decide for themselves, especially if you find your opinion in opposition with mine. Let me be clear on one thing: my opinion is in no way political or slanted to any one side or the other. This goes beyond politics, and beyond any type of religion. This is about human goodness and the ability to learn and grow. We cannot continue to function from a place of fear and judgment, it just doesn't serve anyone. What is productive--and what is right--is to embrace that which we do not understand in an effort to forge new and different relationships with the world around us. 

1 comment:

  1. We've had muslims from Saudi Arabia as guests in our home for both Chrismases and Thanksgivings. Hamoody loved a star ornament we had on our Christmas tree one year so we immediately gave it to him, and he put the star on his necklace to wear. It was an act of respect for us and our traditions that he was sharing with us. When they came for dinner the next Thanksgiving, we gave Hamoody a paper turkey on a pine cone I made for each placesetting. He always mentions the the turkey when we talk, he still has both gifts. I love the American Muslim program too, but Lowes is free to choose where they want to advertise to reach the optimum number of customers. If not them, who should mediate Lowe's advertising, the government? Of course their customers should decide in a free country for better or worse. I'll check the facts out. Understanding should works both ways, and I wonder how much positive American programming there is in Saudi Arabia and who does their advertising. Just a thought, I'll ask my muslim/Saudi friends next time we see them.