More Veily, Beardy and Bomby!
“All-American Muslim” is a show on TLC that depicts the lives of several Islamic terrorist sleeper cells cleverly disguised as average, suburban families. The women on the show— who are all oppressed— are covered from head to toe in a thick black cloth so utterly masking it makes the burqa look like a g-string. The men— who are all jihadi pilots— spend most of their time constructing bombs and plotting revenge against the West. During the evening the entire family gathers around the TV to watch a few public beheadings broadcasted by Al-Jazeera Sports. Afterwards, they all head to the garden for some low-fat ice-cream and recreational flag burning. “Death to America!” the children would yell as the flames consumed the flag, and “death to diabetes!” the father would chime in as he ate a large spoonful of sugar-free raspberry ripple.
In reality, “All-American Muslim” is a tame reality show depicting 5 American Muslim families going about their daily lives with an emphasis on how their religion effects their actions. Similar to “Little Mosque on the Prairie” and “Aliens in America,” the program attempts to do what The Cosby Show did for African-Americans in the 1980’s i.e. show them in a less biased and more positive light. Not surprisingly, a controversy has erupted around the show. A number of people are upset at the way Muslims have been portrayed. Simply put, they feel the people on the show are far too normal and boring to be actual Muslims. They want to see the “interesting” Muslims; the kind they’re used to viewing.
David Caton, in particular — the head and only paid member of a fundamentalist group called the “Florida Family Association,” —took issue with the shows utter lack of beards, veils and bombs. According to Mr. Caton, “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.” He goes onto further to say, “The show fails to mention many Islamic believers’ demeaning treatment of women or great disdain for non-Muslims (infidels).” Mr. Caton was upset that the Muslims on the show didn’t conform to his narrow view of how Muslims are supposed to act. After all, there wasn’t even one explosion.
Through the Florida Family Association, Mr. Caton placed pressure on the shows advertisers to pull out. A number of companies— most notably the hardware chain Lowes— caved in. Lowe’s defended their move stating in an apology that, “the program became a lightening rod,” referring to the strong and varied political and social views that surrounded it. Of course the program only took on its controversiality— it only became “a lightening rod”— after Lowes bent to the will of this one lone nut. However, as this story grew, conservative bloggers flocked to the aid of Caton and defended Lowes decision under the banner of free speech.
Just so we’re clear, nobody is saying that Lowes doesn’t have the right to withdraw their advertisements (duh). I am simply pointing out that Lowes withdrawal— prior to being pressured by a hate group— appears to be tacit approval of their islamophobia. Not many people are making a big deal about this because in terms of fashionable racism, Muslims are in style this season. In some ways they really are the new black.
Among the 28,000 comments left on Lowe’s Facebook fan page, I found one comment that epitomizes perfectly the negative sentiment that is pervading society.
“Totally support Lowe’s decision. More should be strong in their decisions. I know not all Muslims are the same. But with what America has gone through in these last ten years, why shouldn’t America feel resentment? To me, making this show and allowing it to be shown is almost a slap in the face. We give more rights to people who are undeserving, and give more and more. We are so careful not to offend anyone that we deny ourselves. If we go to another country, I feel sure we would not have the same kindness presented to us. Lowe’s has my support for their stand. (16 Likes)”
Similar to the “Ground Zero Mosque” controversy, the above statement highlights an in-group out-group mentality that more and more people are buying into. “We give more rights…”, “We are so careful not to offend…” What is all this “we” business? The people depicted on “All-American Muslim,” as far as I know, are all American citizens who— yes —happen to be Muslim. The people who attacked America on September 11 2001 were Al-Qaeda terrorists operating under a fundamentalist Islamic ideology. They are not even remotely the same people. To many of you that may seem a banal point, but the sad truth is that a strong and growing minority refuse to make that distinction.
Several dozen people who were murdered in the September 11th attacks were Muslim. Their families suffered the same losses as those around them. Yet, rather than receiving consolement, or comfort, their loyalty is constantly called into question. Al-Qaeda ripped away what was most precious to them. Not only did these people have to deal with their grief, but they also had to face accusations of being in league with the very terrorists who attacked their country and killed their loves ones.
Mr. Caton along with many others feels the depiction of the Muslims on “All-American Muslim” isn’t very “Binladenesque.” I actually agree with Mr. Caton in as much as that I too think the show is boring. These people are too normal. I mean, they listen to the same music, watch the same movies, work the same jobs, and attend the same schools as the rest us. It’s almost as though they’re just like any other American family. Where are the beards! The veils! The bombs! This doesn’t scare me. For god sakes, this doesn’t even offend me! I don’t like this. I’m not used to this at all. Somebody turn on Fox News: I want to see some real Muslims.