Wednesday, December 14, 2011

All-American Muslim - What's the Big Deal?

The above video is basically a promo for the new show on TLC called All-American Muslim. The show has been highlighted in the news this week after it was announced that Lowes Home Improvement Stores was pulling it ads under pressure from the Florida Family Association (FFA). The FFA speaks of the show as the following:
The Learning Channel's new show All-American Muslim is propaganda clearly designed to counter legitimate and present-day concerns about many Muslims who are advancing Islamic fundamentalism and Sharia law.  The show profiles only Muslims that appear to be ordinary folks while excluding many Islamic believers whose agenda poses a clear and present danger to liberties and traditional values that the majority of Americans cherish.  (source)
 The FFA claims that 65 advertisers have pulled their ads from the show, but the New York Times is telling a different story:
At least two advertisers have withdrawn commercials from “All-American Muslim,” a new series on the TLC cable channel, since an activist organization called the Florida Family Association condemned the show. But others cited by the organization as pulling out as sponsors are disputing the claim.However, at least three of the companies that the Florida Family Association included on its list of 65 say they have not followed the organization’s call to end their sponsorships.
“We didn’t pull” commercials from “All-American Muslim,” John W. Faulkner, a spokesman for the Campbell Soup Company in Camden, N.J., said on Tuesday.
Other Campbell Soup commercials “could run in subsequent episodes,” he added. (source)
I typically take what most "family associations" say with a grain of salt. The FFA posted a couple of articles from Robert Spencer and Pamela Gellar, two less-than-reputable self-described scholars of Islam, fighters for American freedom. In other words, I would trust what Spencer or Gellar said with a thirty-nine and half foot pole, if you know what I mean. If you want a clear example of bigotry toward Muslims and distortions of facts, those two will give it to you. The problem is that most of these "Christian family associations" rely on these people and bad "Christian" journalism sites such as WorldNetDaily for their information. They may have never met a Muslim or even done the research on their own.

As Christians, we must be knowledgeable about the threats that may be out there, but we must also look at our own hearts and not allow ourselves to be bigots toward other people. In the days after 9/11/01, we saw gas station attendants attacked because they looked Muslim, when in fact, they were Indian. There's a push to not even allow Muslims to worship in this country and yet, we have in our Constitution the right to worship as we please, provided it's within certain limits. The average Muslim is within those limits. Much was made about the Islamic Center being build within blocks of the former World Trade Center towers and yet, the imam at the center of that fight is a Sufi Muslim, a mostly peaceful sect hated by the other two major sects, Sunni and Shi'a.

Before we go off on a witch hunt for terrorists, let's be reminded that Christ came to die for them just as He died for us. The types of comments being left on Lowe's and on the TLC show page are reflecting the hearts of people all across American, a lot of them in the name of Christianity.  Before the '90s, the whipping boy was Communism and all that went with it. Since Communism collapsed, it's been Islam. Yet, China and India are both huge persecuters of Christians. Where does our heart lie? What would Jesus have us do? I think this series on TLC is fascinating. We could learn something from it about our neighbors.

I should like to note that the term racist is being thrown around too loosely here. Islam is not a race. It is a religion. It is a religion that becomes tightly entwined with the person's culture, at least in the Arab context. What people are saying negatively about Muslims should not be called "racist" but bigoted, unless the people are making specific comments about the person's race. There are many Muslims in the U.S. in the African-american community. I'm pretty sure they might take offense at the term racist being used to describe negative comments about their religion as well. Let's be careful about the terms we use.
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