The backlash against the home improvement giant Lowe’s is intensifying after the company pulled its ads from TLC’s show All-American Muslim at the behest of the right-wing group Florida Family Association. The move sparked fury from lawmakers and prompted calls for a boycott. Today, New Jersey’s The Star-Ledger said that, “for as long as Lowe’s continues to ‘defer’ to discrimination, let’s boycott this chain.”
Crowing over its Islamophobic success, FFA boasted that 65 companies have withdrawn advertising after receiving the group’s complaint. However, at least three companies told the New York Times that FFA boast is “inaccurate” at best. Campbell Soup Company, Sears, and Bank of America didn’t actually pull any of their ads and, unlike FFA, they do in fact support “diversity and inclusion“:
“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. [...]
“We certainly support diversity and inclusion,” he added, “and we market to everybody here in the United States, including Dearborn, Michigan.” [...]
Another advertiser on “All-American Muslim,” Sears Holdings, which owns Sears and Kmart, also took issue with the contention that it had withdrawn from the show.
“Any claim that we pulled our advertising in response to concerns about this show are inaccurate,” Chris Brathwaite, a spokesman for Sears Holdings in Hoffman Estates, Ill., wrote in an e-mail. [...]
“Sears Holdings is proud to serve a diverse customer base,” Mr. Brathwaite said, “which represents a true cross-section of America.”
A third company, Bank of America, also disputed the characterization of its ad plans for “All-American Muslim.” Bank of America was scheduled to run a spot in one episode, on Nov. 27, said Ernesto Anguilla, a spokesman in Boston, and it ran as planned.
“We had a schedule all along,” he added, “and it was set to expire when it did.”
In fact, the American Muslim reports that numerous other companies including Gap, Green mountain Coffee, Home Depot, Art Instruction Schools, Amway, and Cumberland Packing say they’re being misrepresented by FFA as companies that agreed to pull ads. Indeed, ad space for the next episode of All-American Muslim is sold out.
There’s good reason for companies to quickly distance themselves from FFA’s claims, namely because the central argument FFA is making is embarrassingly absurd. As The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart noted last night, FFA says it hates the show because it advances Islamic fundamentalism by failing to portray Muslims as terrorists. Stewart took issue with FFA’s claim that the show “paints an issue that’s harmful, education-wise, to the belief structure” of Americans, wondering “is that not the purpose of education vis-a-vis belief structures, to replace your belief structures with facts?”:
Mocking FFA’s religious bigotry and Lowe’s capitulation to it, The Daily Show’s Aasif Mandvi said, “Without the store Lowe’s the jihadists’ goal is unachievable, Jon. If you were a Muslim who wants to build a bomb…sorry, I’m obviously being redundant.”