Entertainment mogul Russell Simmons has stepped into the controversy about home improvement chain Lowe’s withdrawing its ads from TLC’s reality TV show All-American Muslim due to pressure from a right-wing Christian group, the Florida Family Association (FFA). Simmons has bought up all the ad space that Lowe’s gave up. New York Magazine quotes his announcement on Twitter that “The show is now sold out!” and “keep your money @lowes and we will keep ours.”
Lowe’s has protested that it has “a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion,” a statement quite contradicted by its pulling its ads from All-American Muslim, which follows the lives of five Lebanese families in Dearborn, Michigan. Others including actress Mia Farrow have joined Simmons and strongly criticized Lowe’s for its anti-Muslim stance and calls for a boycott have arisen.
California State Senator Accuses Lowe’s of Religious Discrimination
California state senator Ted Lieu sent a strongly-worded letter to Lowe’s CEO Robert A. Niblock on Saturday, saying that the decision to withdraw the ads was ”bigoted, shameful, and un-American” and also “profoundly ignorant.”
“Lowe’s religious discrimination is the equivalent of a company asserting that it is pulling advertising from the Christian Broadcast Network’s 700 Club because the program somehow ‘riskily hides’ the agenda of Christian radicalized groups such as Aryan Nation. That assertion would, of course, be utter nonsense and religious bigotry.”
Lowe’s should apologize and reinstate the ads and also carry out “outreach to the community about bias and bigotry.” If not, says Lieu, the company could face a boycott and even legislative action for discrimination against Muslims, in possible violation of California laws. ThinkProgress also quotes from the responses of other politicians including State Senator Rashida Tlaib, who is the first Muslim elected to the Michigan legislature and who wrote a letter to Niblock, expressing deep disappointment with Lowe’s in effect giving “credibility to these hate groups.”
Lieu has said that he expects to make a decision about calling for a boycott of Lowe’s on Wednesday or Thursday. The hardware chain has issued a statement that attempt to be conciliatory, but rather suggests that Lowe’s, having found itself in the proverbial hot seat for withdrawing the ads, is trying to say, hey, we just sell home improvement supplies, why is everyone getting all political on us?
From Lowe’s statement:
“Individuals and groups have strong political and societal views on this topic, and this program became a lightning rod for many of those views. As a result we did pull our advertising on this program. We believe it is best to respectfully defer to communities, individuals and groups to discuss and consider such issues of importance.”
Suehaila Amen’s family is featured on All-American Muslim; she notes that Lowe’s has “succumb[ed] to bigots and people trying to perpetuate their negative views on an entire community.”
As Lieu points out,
“The show is about what it’s like to be a Muslim in America, and it touches on the discrimination they sometimes face. And that kind of discrimination is exactly what’s happening here with Lowe’s.”
Yes indeed. Lowe’s response to the demands of FFA clearly shows why there is a huge need for a show such as All-American Muslim.
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