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Posted at 12:46 PM ET, 12/14/2011

Turning up the heat on Lowe’s and anti-Muslim bigotry

By now you may have heard that retail behemoth Lowe’s Home Improvement yanked ads from TLC’s “All-American Muslim” reality show after a single conservative Christian group complained that the show is “propaganda” that endangers “American liberties and Christian values.”

That one of the “American liberties” we hold to be important is freedom of religion was an irony lost on the group — and on Lowe’s — and the decision has been widely pilloried. Lowe’s subsequently offered a strikingly weak justification for the move, arguing that the program had triggered “strong political and societal views” and insisting that it is “best to respectfully defer to communities, individuals and groups to discuss and consider such issues of importance.” Lowe’s, of course, is only “deferring” to the bigoted views that one conservative group holds about millions and millions of Americans.

Now Dem Rep. Chris Murphy — who’s running for Senate in Connecticut — has given a wonderful speech on the House floor lambasting Lowe’s over the decision, mocking the company’s justification for it, and vowing that Congress will turn up the heat on Lowe’s to reverse course. Murphy says to Lowe’s: “You’re better than this”:

There are a number of good lines in the speech. There’s this pushback on Lowe’s excuse:

Lowe’s defends itself by saying they’re pulling these ads because some of their customers had “strong political and social views” on this topic. Well congratulations to Lowe’s for acknowledging that there are some really bigoted people in the world. That doesn’t mean that Lowe’s or any other company should acquiesce to this kind of behavior. For instance, there are unfotunately a lot of people out there who still hold racist views about African Americans. But I don’t think Lowe’s is going to be pulling its ads from television shows featuring African Americans.

There’s also this message to Lowe’s:

You’re better than this. You know the history of this country and of this world never, ever looks kindly on this kind of marginalization that you’ve endorsed with these actions. Whether it was against Irish Americans, or Jewish Americans, or African Americans, the history books make sure that this kind of exclusionary politics becomes a stain on the reputation of anyone that takes part in it...This is America and while we have never been perfect at living up to our founding ideals, we’ve gotten pretty good at calling out bigotry when we see it, and stamping it out before its mark becomes indelible. This can be one of those moments.

There’s no escaping it: The decision Lowe’s made to pull the ads legitimizes bigotry, pure and simple. It’s not too late for Lowe’s to rethink its decision. Despite the power over itself that this enormous company has inexplicably handed over to a relatively tiny band of bigots, if more members of Congress speak out in this fashion, it will get harder and harder for Lowe’s to avoid doing the right thing.

By  |  12:46 PM ET, 12/14/2011

 
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