UPDATE, MONDAY AM: The backlash against hardware store giant Lowe’s over its decision to pull ads from TLC’s reality series All-American Muslim continues. California State Sen. Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, on Sunday sent a letter to Lowe’s CEO Robert A. Niblock, calling the company’s decision “un-American” and “naked religious bigotry,” and threatened legislative action if Lowe’s doesn’t apologize to Muslims and reinstate its ads, according to the AP.
In turn, Lowe’s issued a statement apologizing for having “managed to make some people very unhappy.” “Individuals and groups have strong political and societal views on this topic, and this program became a lightning rod for many of those views,” Lowe’s said. “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.”
PREVIOUS FRIDAY PM: For a show with such a dividing subject, the lives of Muslims in the U.S., TLC’s All American Muslim went surprisingly long without attracting major controversy. But a month into its run, the docu reality series has lost a major advertiser, Lowe’s, after a campaign by conservative watchdog the Florida Family Association. “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 group said on its site. “Clearly this program is attempting to manipulate Americans into ignoring the threat of jihad and to influence them to believe that being concerned about the jihad threat would somehow victimize these nice people in this show.” The group posted a letter it said it had received from Lowe’s confirming the pullout, something the hardware store giant later acknowledged on Twitter but claimed the decision was not made under pressure from the Florida Family Assoc. “We did not pull our ads based solely on the complaints or emails of any one group,” the company said. “It is never our intent to alienate anyone. Lowe’s values diversity of thought in everyone, including our employees and prospective customers.”
Florida Family Assoc.’s campaign is reminiscent of that the Parents TV Council waged against MTV’s racy drama Skins earlier this year. But, while the PTC had mostly free reign in its attacks on the show as the charges were for child pornography, the Florida Family Assoc. is expected to get pushback from Muslim and human rights groups. The first to voice its opposition was the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. “Sadly corporations, such as Lowe’s, have succumbed to the idiocracy of such garbage campaigns, which are orchestrated by groups and organizations which lack credibility, legitimacy, and are founded on the basic notions of bigotry and racism reminiscent of a shameful era in this country’s history,” the organization said in a statement.
It is unclear whether Lowe’s move will be followed by other blue-chip companies. (the Florida Family Assoc. claims that Home Depot and Sweet’n Low have pulled their ads from the show too.) But in a statement, TLC says that “we stand behind All American Muslim and we’re happy the show has strong advertising support.” All-American Muslim is already at the center of another type of controversy. A production company filed a lawsuit earlier this month claiming that TLC stole its idea for the show.