All-American Muslim: Why the social uproar?
Over the years, TLC has developed a knack for highlighting groups in society that many viewers may not know much about. From hoarders to pageant kids to little people to Gypsies, they focus on the abnormal, the unique, the rare, the quirky and often the most fascinating among us.
While most of their programs are met with curiosity and intrigue, one of their most recent has been met only by controversy and closed-mindedness since it first aired in November.
All-American Muslim documents five Muslim American families living in Dearborn, Mich., home to the largest mosque in the United States and one of the highest concentrations of Islamic followers. It shadows their everyday lives and some of the struggles they face as a religious minority.
It is no secret that since 9/11, tensions have often run high in the United States concerning the Islamic faith, so when the show hit the television screen, it caused backlash not only among some of its viewers, but advertisers as well, including Lowe’s, which pulled its commercials from the program.
While the company has every constitutional right not to support the show, and viewers have every right not to watch it, the measure of opposition is looking a lot less like First Amendment freedom and a lot more like religious hatred.
Much of it comes from the Florida Family Association, a religious group that aims to “educate people on what they can do to defend, protect and promote traditional, biblical values.”
But since when did bigotry become a “traditional biblical value”?
The show is not promoting Islam. It is not trying to convert or preach or defend a religious set of beliefs. It is merely doing the same thing all of the network’s programs do – document people’s everyday lives.
In interviews, the founder of FFA David Caton claims that his problem with All-American Muslim is that it does not depict extremists of the faith. Basically, he’s mad because it’s not casting a negative image of a religion that so many Americans have come to fear.
But perhaps if people took the time to understand it, they’d be less scared of it.
And the fact is, all religions have extremists, but that does not make them the majority. Countless cult leaders and serial killers have used the Bible as a shield to hide their sadistic actions, but I’m sure Mr. Caton would not advocate programming that portrayed Christianity in the same light that he would like TLC to show Islam in.
And what is even scarier than the minority of religious nut cases out there, is the fact that so many Americans are so offended by beliefs that are different from their own that they cannot even stand to sit down in their homes and watch 60 minutes of someone else’s lifestyle.