Barbara Simpson, "The Babe in the Bunker," as she's known to her KSFO 560 radio talk-show audience in San Francisco, has a 20-year radio, TV and newspaper career in the Bay Area and Los Angeles.More ↓Less ↑
You haven’t heard the end of it with politicians throwing around accusations like “un-American,” “naked religious bigotry,” “fringe hate groups,” “bias” and “religious discrimination.”
It’s all because of a company pulling advertising from a cable television series.
There are calls for boycotts, apologies, investigation into potential law violation and even possible legislative condemnation of the action.
Sounds horrendous, doesn’t it?
Well, it depends on your political point of view – and most likely, your religious point of view as well.
It all stems from a decision by Lowe’s, the home improvement company, to stop advertising on a reality cable show
Normally, it’s the kind of decision made almost daily by businesses across the country, indeed the world: how, where and what to advertise to reach the desired potential customers.
But there’s nothing normal about this, and it’s turned into a major confrontation involving Muslims, politicians and, ultimately, the Bill of Rights.
On the face of it, when the home-improvement chain dropped its advertising from a new series called “All-American Muslim” – a reality program airing on the Learning Channel – it would appear to be routine.
But of course, because it deals with Muslims – it isn’t routine and everything hit the fan.
“All-American Muslim” debuted in November and focuses on five so-called typical Muslim families living in and around Dearborn, Mich. – an area with the largest Muslim and Arab-American population in this country.
The families are portrayed as being just average folks – the idea being that they are no different than anyone else.
And therein lies the controversy.
Is the premise of the series a form of propaganda? Does it distract viewers from the reality that this country, and indeed the world, faces the threat and real dangers from militant Muslims who spread terrorism with the goal of worldwide Shariah law?
Lowe’s got the hint when the Florida Family Association contacted them (and other advertisers as well) that the series is “propaganda that riskily hides the Islamic agenda’s clear and present danger to American liberties and traditional values.”
There are reports other advertisers have dropped the program, but Lowe’s is the first to openly state its decision to pull the ads after it became, according to AP, “a lightning rod for people to voice complaints from a variety of perspectives – political social and otherwise.”
That’s an understatement.
California State Sen. Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, called it “un-American – and naked religious bigotry” – and wants an investigation of the company, the state senate to condemn the decision, the firm to apologize, resume the ads and to perform outreach about bias and bigotry.
Whew! And he’s only a state legislator!
Muslim legislators got in on the act – U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn. (the first Muslim elected to Congress), berated Lowe’s for upholding “the beliefs of a fringe hate group and not the First Amendment.”
Another Muslim politician, Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit, the first Muslim in the Michigan legislature, wrote to Lowe’s referencing hate groups and claiming Muslims “are being attacked.”
Let’s see – Muslims are being “attacked” because a company doesn’t want to advertise on a cable reality show?
Does the flip side of this mean that companies should be required to advertise on programs chosen by partisan groups – in this case, pro-Muslim organizations – while the opinions of Christian groups are discounted?
It’s more than ironic that just as we celebrate the 220th anniversary of the passage of the Bill of Rights by our Founding Fathers, political pressure driven by religious partisanship is infringing on those very rights.
Among the words of the first of those 10 amendments are those guaranteeing freedom of speech.
The Learning Channel has the right/freedom to present Muslims in any way it chooses.
The Florida Family Association has the right/freedom to evaluate the purpose of the cable series, spread the word about that perceived purpose and ask companies not to support it.
Lowe’s, and any company, has the right/freedom to spend advertising money any way it chooses. As with most companies, it prefers to avoid controversial issues.
Of course, the real issue here is that the core of the controversy is Islam and Muslims.
We’re at a point that anything that can be construed by Islamic groups to be “offensive” to Muslims, is deemed offensive and, therefore, verboten.
We know television and movies have the right to present Muslims in any way they dramatically choose, but we also know that the presentation better be “positive” or they’ll be in a heap of grief – think the Danish cartoons, Salman Rushdie, Geert Wilders and many others who ran into the Muslim brick wall.
That’s why hypersensitive politicians get in the fray, and we know which side they’re on. They don’t want anyone mad at them, especially the Islamic advocacy groups.
It should surprise no one that the website of the Florida group has been hacked in retaliation for its efforts to urge advertisers to avoid the cable series.
The travel website Kayak also dropped its commercials. Marketing officer Robert Birge said that TLC misrepresented the program to advertisers, but for him, the ultimate decision to put their ad money elsewhere was that he watched the first two episodes: “Mostly, I just thought the show sucked.”