Urging Lowes to Reconsider
This week I sent a letter to the CEO of Lowes regarding their decision to pull its advertising from the television show “All-American Muslim” following criticism of the program by radical right-wing groups.
This action legitimizes unfounded and bigoted attacks on American citizens, and runs contrary to the principles this country is built on.
I urge Lowes to reverse this baseless decision and reject the prejudices rooted in these criticisms.
The full text of the letter is below:
December 15, 2011
Robert A. Niblock
Lowe’s Companies Inc. CEO
1000 Lowes Blvd.
Mooresville, NC 28117
Dear Mr. Niblock,
I write to express my dismay at your company’s decision to pull its advertising from the television show “All-American Muslim,” which currently airs on The Learning Channel, and to urge you to reconsider your decision.
As you know, this program follows five Michigan-based Muslim-American families, exploring their lives as well as the conflicts they face – both within their community and with others. But for the fact that it features Muslim-Americans, “All-American Muslim” is indistinguishable in substance from any of the wide variety of reality television programs that are watched by millions of Americans every day.
Given that this program falls squarely in the mainstream of American television programming, I was surprised to learn that radical right-wing groups were highly critical of the program. Incredibly, these organizations are not upset over any perceived message or agenda advanced by the television show; it is the show’s portrayal of the daily life of American Muslims as they truly are — and not as some disgraceful and bigoted caricature – that offends them. For example, the Florida Family Association, which has operated a mail campaign to convince dozens of American companies to pull their advertising from “All-American Muslim,” has attacked the show as “propaganda that riskily hides the Islamic agenda’s clear and present danger to American liberties and traditional values.”
I have reviewed these criticisms, and find them to be lacking in factual basis and disturbingly rooted in bias and prejudice. I am confused as to how Lowe’s could have come to a different conclusion. Labeling an entire people with offensive and counterfactual stereotypes and then moving to cut off any public discussion that might cast doubt on those stereotypes is, to me, the very essence of intolerance. Such action is quite clearly antithetical to the free speech, religious freedom, and civil rights principles that have made the United States the greatest nation in the world. As a respected American company, Lowe’s should work to advance, not undermine, these values.
Given the growing outrage over this decision, I cannot imagine that your company’s public statements on the issue thus far – acknowledging the controversy but standing by the decision to pull the ads – represent a wise long-term business decision. Regardless of the bottom line, however, this action is blatantly contrary to Lowe’s standing as a typically responsible corporate citizen. Legitimizing these baseless and offensive attacks on ordinary American citizens has a corrosive effect on our democracy. I urge you to reconsider this decision and reverse the damage that has been done to both victims of bias and the reputation of your impressive company.
United States Senator