Originally posted on Tumblr Dec. 21, 2011 at 12:52 a.m.
At the very moment you’re reading this, somewhere in the country there is an American finishing dinner after a long day of work as a car salesman. This person is recapping the events of his day with his wife, and he’s making sure his two kids (a boy and girl) have done all of their homework correctly. The wife has also worked eight hours as a bank teller. After the homework has been been put away and the dishes done, the family sits down for a little bit of TV before everyone makes their way to bed.
This sounds like a pretty prototypical, nuclear family. Nothing in the short excerpt above would lead you to believe this couldn’t be your next door neighbor. Now if you were to live in Dearborn, Michigan this may very well still be the person living next to you. Nothing would probably even make you distinguishable from them, except for one thing.
What one thing would that be? Well that would be that 33 percent of the time the opening paragraph is about a Muslim family. The percentage is the demographic of Arabs in Dearborn, which is the largest concentration of Arabs outside of the Middle East.
Alarming? Absolutely not. Intriguing? Yes, yes indeed.
So out of the intrigue something very educational was born, and that something was All-American Muslim which airs on TLC. When I saw the first commercial I instantly knew that I would be watching on Sunday nights. The fact that a community with a large contingency of Muslims was going to be featured was a welcome breath of fresh air. What exactly would the show focus on? It focuses on just how American this pronounced community within a community is. I love the idea. It’s not because I need them to prove this to me, but because I want to see how they go about displaying it. I wanted to see how their religious and cultural differences would mix with those who are either uninformed or just ignorant. It didn’t exactly flow that way in the show, because it flowed like any other apple pie show on TLC. By that I mean that the unique distinction of the subjects becomes second fiddle to their actual lives. An example would be the show “Little People Big World”. In the beginning the fact that both parents were little people and one of three children also acquired the trait was the drawing factor. As the show went on that aspect slid into the background, and you watched to see them go through things that many families go through. All-American Muslim is presented in the same way, albeit with a very distinct set of circumstances. The featured people just want to let you into their world to show you how similar it is. Their differences should matter no more than any other person’s differences.
Now this is how I see things, and how I think many rational people see them as well.
The downside is that not all people view things this way with certain cultural and religious groups. In the past 11 years one group has taken the brunt of the ignorance from those who wish to single demographics out. This has been made extremely easy by people hiding behind the fact that it’s all about national security. I mean, we’ve been at war with Arabs. Arabs have done things to hurt us. For God’s sake Muslims brought down the World Trade Center! Now they’re just waiting to strike our sovereign soil again while we clean up their mess overseas.
I guess that’s how most fanatical patriots and religious zealots would describe Muslims, especially the ones who live here.
These opinions (or fears) are used by those with the greatest reach to amplify these terrible messages. One such group that does this is the Florida Family Association (FFA from here on out) which is highly conservative. The “concerns” of the FFA manifested in them pushing for advertisers to yank advertising from All-American Muslim. Ridiculous, but their concerns touched enough buttons to get Lowe’s to be the first to fall in line with the request.
What specific course of reasoning is the FFA shoving into advertisers’ faces? PROPAGANDA! More specifically that the TLC program is promoting propaganda about those who practice Islam within the country & abroad.
“propaganda that riskily hides the Islamic agenda’s clear and present danger to American liberties and traditional values.” — FFA
This propaganda would have “God fearing” Americans think that all Arab-Americans are how the show portrays (you know, humans no different than you or me). The FFA needs it to be known that there are most certainly dangerous practitioners of Islam roaming about in this country & abroad. To that I say, OF COURSE THERE ARE! Dangerous people exist everywhere. Being dangerous isn’t limited to any specific race, culture, ethnicity or religion. The logic used by the FFA is so incredibly flawed that it’s sickening. It’s flawed not by mistake, but deliberately. More disgusting is that there will be people who champion this cause. They will beat their drums of bigotry and take it to the airwaves. It’s very likely that other advertisers will feel the pressure and acquiesce.
I find it interesting the FFA says traditional values are in clear and present danger, because I find them to be the ones who are attacking these “traditional” values. One of these values would be equality. Groups like this one always attack others based off of some twisted view of patriotism and protecting liberties, but they do so by trying to strip others of these same things.
I really hope TLC doesn’t give way to these idiots. The network has stated it doesn’t plan to do that, and I hope it stays that way. Ignorance, racism and bigotry should not be used to thrust your views upon others.