Under fire for a decision to pull advertising from the TLC show All-American Muslim, Lowe’s this weekend put out a backhanded apology, saying that “individuals and groups have strong political and societal views on this topic” and “we’ve managed to make some people very unhappy.”
In a statement posted on its Facebook page on Saturday, the hardware company said that it has “managed to step into a hotly contested debate with strong views from virtually every angle and perspective - social, political and otherwise - and we’ve managed to make some people very unhappy. We are sincerely sorry.”
“Individuals and groups have strong political and societal views on this topic,” the statement said, “and this program became a lighting 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.”
“We understand the program raised concerns, complaints or issues from multiple sides of the viewer spectrum, which we found after doing research of news articles and blogs covering the show,” a Lowe’s spokesman told the Hollywood Reporter.
Lowe’s was responding to backlash over its decision to pull ads from the reality show All-American Muslim on TLC, about five American Muslim families living in Dearborn, Michigan. Lowe’s was caving to pressure from a campaign by the Florida Family Association, a right-wing social conservative group that asked supporters to e-mail advertisers for the show.
“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 FFA said in a series of three e-mails to its supporters. “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.”
The FFA also referenced concerns by anti-Islam activists Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller. Spencer had called the show a “bait-and-switch” that “addresses nothing of that supremacist ideology” in a column for Human Events. And Geller told World Net Daily: “It is an attempt to manipulate Americans into ignoring the threat of jihad and to bully them into thinking that being concerned about the jihad threat would somehow victimize these nice people in this show. The problem is not people; it’s ideology. The show doesn’t address that.”
According to the Hollywood Reporter, a Lowe’s representative sent the FFA an e-mail after the decision was made to pull the ads: “While we continue to advertise on various cable networks, including TLC, there are certain programs that do not meet Lowe’s advertising guidelines, including the show you brought to our attention. Lowe’s will no longer be advertising on that program.”
Part of the backlash came from hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons, who called the decision Islamophobic. “This can’t happen in America; [Lowe’s] needs to fix this immediately.”
“If I go to work on this,” he said, “they’re not even going to believe it. This is not going to be a Muslim fight. I don’t want to take my time and start a boycott — don’t make me do that.”
State Sen. Ted Lieu (D-CA) wrote a letter over the weekend to the CEO Of Lowe’s, Robert A. Niblock, saying it is “bigoted, shameful, and un-American” and calling it “religious discrimination.”