Homophobia and Islamophobia: All-American Muslim, the Florida Family Association and Lowe’s
Whatever one thinks of American Muslims and the TLC reality show “All-American Muslim,” the recent controversy around Lowe’s decision to pull its t.v. ads from the program illustrates the intensity of Islamophobia in the United States and how it is wedded to other forms of bigotory. Lowe’s pulled the ads from TLC after it was lobbied by the Florida Family Association, a fringe conservative organization headed by David Caton that organizes campaigns and boycotts against corporations that run ads during programming that they deem to be offensive. The Florida Family Association defines its mission in the following terms: “Educate people on what they can do to defend, protect and promote traditional, biblical values.” Most of the campaigns organized by the Florida Family Association are explicitly homophobic, targeting mainstream television shows that have a permissive attitude toward gay, lesbian or transgender issues. They also target Disney for Gay Day.
More recently, Canton has locked arms with Pamela Geller (“Stop Islamization of America”) and launched aggressive anti-Muslim campaigns that not only target All-American Muslim, but also the hotel chain Amerimar Enterprise because it refused to host conference of anti-Muslim groups and other ostensibly pro-Muslim entities and individuals, including President Obama for the US role in Libya.
The controversy around Lowe’s pulling its ads from All-American Muslim is without question the biggest news story in history of the Florida Family Association. Lowe’s decision has been reported across the nation in local newspapers (see for example the Detroit Free Press article by Niraj Warikoo) and mocked Jon Stewart on the Daily Show. But now Lowe’s has made matters worse by posting a message on its Facebook page that became a magnet for racist and Islamophobic hate-speech. While Lowe’s is not responsible for the language used by those who posted on its Facebook page, it is responsible for the comments, as Ibrahim Hooper, communications director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has noted: “If Lowe’s was concerned about spreading hate speech, you would think that they would filter and delete the worst [comments].” To read more about the Facebook fiasco and Lowe’s response, see Lowe’s in Facebook Hell, a December 14. 20122 article by Ben Popken posted on the Reader Supported News site. While the creation and airing of “All-American Muslim” suggest growing tolerance in the US toward Muslims, the campaign of the Florida Family Association, Lowe’s capitulation, and the comments on Lowe’s Facebook page demonstrate the persistence of widespread hatred of Muslims in the US. That said, it appears that the general tenor of public opinion, to the degree that it is reflected by the mainstream media, opposes the nastiness of Islamophobic speech and actions.