Home improvement giant Lowe’s is enduring unremitting outcry, boycotts, and even inquiries from the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights after it buckled under right-wing pressure to pull its ads from TLC’s new reality show All-American Muslim. Yesterday, interfaith clergy delivered 200,000 signatures to Lowe’s headquarters in Mooresville, North Carolina demanding the company “apologize” for succumbing to bigotry.
Upon receiving the petitions, Lowe’s announced it will not reinstate its advertising. However, the company told the religious leaders that it was not in any way influenced by the right-wing hate propaganda group Florida Family Association, but rather by “negative chatter about the show” on social media forums:
“The decision was absolutely not, despite what’s been reported in the media, influenced by any one group,” said Lowe’s vice president of marketing Tom Lamb. He said that the decision to stop advertising on the show had been made before the FFA emailed Lowe’s CEO Robert Niblock.[...]
Lowe’s spokeswoman Chris Ahearn said the show’s first ad to run on “All-American Muslim” on Sunday, Dec. 4, was part of a bulk buy, in which the retailer buys a set amount of time on a network but doesn’t specify the shows its ads will appear on. Ahearn said Lowe’s was aware one of those shows could be “All-American Muslim,” but was not concerned.
On the morning of Monday, Dec. 5, Ahearn said that a member of Lowe’s social media team brought negative chatter about the show to management’s attention that was appearing on social networks. The decision to pull the ads was made shortly afterwards, Ahearn said, and communicated to TLC through Lowe’s ad-buying agency.
That afternoon, Ahearn said, Lowe’s CEO received an email from the FFA about “All-American Muslim.” The company responded with a form letter confirming the ads had already been pulled, Ahearn said.
It is true that FFA is known for fabricating the success of its bigoted campaigns. Lowe’s said it was both “surprised” that FFA was taking credit for the decision and at the “speed and intensity of the backlash.” The company did meet with two of the religious leaders who brought the petitions and explained their reasoning behind the backlash. One leader applauded Lowe’s willingness to talk, adding “There’s a way to engage in responsible dialogue, even when we think we have a deep disagreement.”
Regardless of whether the “negative chatter” came from the religious right-wing or a few commenters in a social media forum, the neck-breaking speed in which the company decided to kowtow to narrow-minded prejudice is deserving of scrutiny and condemnation.
Last night, Current’s Keith Olbermann interviewed Darakshan Raja, one of the co-authors of the petition against Lowe’s. Watch it: