“All-American Muslim” premiered on TLC with record 1.7 million viewers in November, earning critical acclaim from The New York Times, USA Today NPR, Time Magazine, The Atlantic and many major blog sites. The episode, “How to Marry a Muslim,” boosted TLC to post its highest Sunday primetime performance in more than a year in women 18-34. Was it too good to be true? Of course.
The well-funded and organized xenophobic and racist Islamophobic cottage industry swung into full alert and initiated yet another anti-Islam and anti-Muslim campaign. No sooner had it premiered than the anti-Islam/Islamophobia industry frantically urged their supporters to contact the network’s advertisers and demand that they pull their commercial spots from that hour on TLC in an attempt to strangle the show off of the air.
Before a single advertiser could confirm or deny their position, the Florida Family Association (FFA), a small Tampa-based conservative Christian group .touted that advertisers were fleeing the show “like rats from a sinking ship.” Florida Family founder David Cato told AP his mission was to “defend traditional American biblical values.” Repeating a tired mantra, FFA charged that the show is “propaganda clearly designed to counter legitimate and present-day concerns about many Muslims who are advancing Islamic fundamentalism and Sharia law,” An FFA email to it’s members charged that: “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,” urging them to contact dozens of companies and ask them to “discontinue advertising on this show.” The hardware and building supply chain Lowe’s from future episodes.
Islamophobic leaders in America were quick to join the chorus. Pam Geller, notorious anti-Muslim basher, who has been involved in virtually every major anti-Islam protest from Park 51, the anti-Sharia movement, and others charged: “Every company is to free to choose where they put their ad dollars. 64 companies have now pulled their ads. And rightly so. It’s is not that the show about Muslims. It is that the show was predicated on a lie and the relentless propaganda of Islamic supremacists.” Her compatriot and co-founder of Stop Islamization of America, Robert Spencer, also jumped into the controversy: “But Americans aren’t suspicious of Muslims who are trying to get married, open clubs, and play football. Americans are suspicious of Muslims who are trying to blow up American buildings, subvert American freedoms, and assert the primacy of Islamic law over American law. The problem people have with Islam is not with every Muslim person. It is with Islam’s teachings of violence against and the subjugation of unbelievers. It is with the supremacist ideology and the fervent believers in those noxious doctrines of warfare and subjugation. All-American Muslim addresses nothing of that supremacist ideology…” It is this kind of rhetoric that led Anders Breivik, the Norwegian terrorist, to cite Geller and Spencer in his Manifesto. The Gellers, Spencers and other bigoted activists of the world ranting before, during and post Park 51 impact popular culture and contribute to the context that can result in statistics like those released by the FBI in November showing that anti-Muslim hate crimes rose by about 50 percent in 2010.
The furor over All-American Muslim underscores yet again the extent to which Islamophobia exists despite the adamant claims of its enablers and practitioners that it does not. The fact that one cannot have a single show on a Muslim family without Muslim bashers insisting that portraying a normal family is somehow insidious because the show does not show the “dark side” of Islam demonstrates the extent to which they engage in the creation of a collective guilt, brush-stroking a religion and a majority of its followers with the actions a fraction of 1 percent of Muslims.
These preachers of hate use vitriolic xenophobic language and fear-mongering and ignore the facts. Major polling by Gallup and Pew and their reports have emphasized the extent to which the vast majority of American Muslims have become economically and increasingly politically integrated into mainstream American society. Muslims represent men and women spanning the socioeconomic spectrum: professionals (doctors, lawyers, engineers, and educators), corporate executives, small business owners, or blue-collar workers and laborers. The vast majority of Muslims reject extremism and terrorism and are loyal citizens like the vast majority of other Americans
John Esposito | Dec 16, 2011 4:07 PM