I’ve been meaning to write about All American Muslim for a while. The show debuted on TLC right around the time I wrote about my misgivings about the Duggars and someone who commented on that post challenged me to compare the roles of of women in the families on All American Muslim with the roles of the women in the Duggar family to prove that I’m really about about women and not just anti-Christian. So I watched it and found little to compare, actually. The people on this show are mainstream Muslims who live a fairly socially progressive life without the female repression you’d see fundamentalist Islam. The women on All American Muslim all appear to have either a college education or professional training, they all work, some wear hijab but not all of them do, and they all seem to be on equal footing with their husbands. If there’s any pressure for women on All American Muslim to behave along traditional lines, it comes from the older generations, many of whom appear to be native Lebanese and are therefore coming from a markedly different cultural concept than their American-born children.
Basically, All American Muslim is a show about a bunch of people in Michigan who attend a mosque in addition to leading completely ordinary lives. It’s not particularly extraordinary, though many of the people featured seem really nice and I’d probably like them if we met socially. Though I strongly suspect at least a few of them are Michigan football fans so that could cause some tension with this Buckeye gal. But I digress.
I haven’t seen a tremendous amount of press about the show because it is so ordinary. In a lot of ways, it’s far less dramatic than a dozen other reality shows and people looking for interpersonal drama are better off with the Real Housewives. It may be educational for people who don’t know much about the practice of Islam but for me, who has known and worked with Muslims, there’s not a lot of new information. I’d be surprised if it goes on to have a second season because it’s not like Sister Wives with all the underlying tension and douche-tasticness going on. The people are too nice, their stories too mild to be captivating tv.
That all changed when some group whose name I can’t recall because I don’t think I’d respect them very much freaked out about Muslims being on tv and started begging advertisers to yank their commercials from the time slot. And fucking Lowe’s went and did it.
Dude. Really? A nationally branded company pulled its ads from a show about nice midwestern people – all of whom appear to own homes and might be interested in improving them – because a few idiots don’t like where they worship? That’s some chickenshit stuff. And it makes me wonder if they bought the ad space but kept one finger on the “retract” button just in case something like this happened. Like maybe someone at Lowe’s was already uncomfortable with Muslims being portrayed as normal citizens with jobs, and families, and homes, and dreams for their futures.
I’m really, really sad about this. And angry. And shocked but not as shocked as I wish I were. I know there are idiots and boots out there but I always hope they’re trying not to be idiots and bigots. I struggle daily with my own prejudices and assumptions and judgements. I have voices in my mind that whisper things that I’m not proud of and I do my best to silence them. I try to go learn about that which frightens or upsets me. I’m trying to be the kind of citizen I want to be. I might not be succeeding but at least I’m trying.
This group of bigots who protested and the people at Lowe’s who pulled their ads aren’t even trying. They’re taking the easy way out and hating that which they misunderstand. They refuse education, they refuse to attempt compassion. Instead they cling to a single negative stereotype and build a belief structure around it then berate anyone who tries to disabuse them of any falsehoods in their beliefs. They are determined to be small minded and want to drag everyone else’s mind down to their size.
I had lost interest in All American Muslim after a few episodes but after this little tempest, I’m going to start watching it again. Just because I can. And I’m going to keep shopping at my local hardware store, one that doesn’t seem to care abut religion. If Lowe’s doesn’t want to advertise to people who like reality tv about Muslims, I won’t insult them by shopping there. This is America, after all, and we can all watch, shop and worship as we choose.