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In Theory: Should Lowes have pulled its ads?

December 23, 2011

Q. Home improvement store Lowe's has pulled its advertising from the TLC reality show “All-American Muslim” because of a campaign by the conservative Florida Family Assn. The FFA claims that “'All-American Muslim' is propaganda that riskily hides the Islamic agenda’s clear and present danger to American liberties and traditional values.” Residents in Dearborn, Mich., where the show is filmed, called the move “a slap in the face of our rich American diversity.”

In an email to the FFA, Lowe's said, “[T]here 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 [All American Muslim] program.”

The show, launched in November, follows the lives of a group of Muslims in Dearborn, which is home to the largest number of Muslims in America, and has been praised for providing an insight into the lives of American Muslims. A review in the Los Angeles Times said, “[T]he general impression is one of a lot of nice people — most of them Dearborn born-and-bred, solid Midwesterners with Middle Eastern roots — trying to lead happy lives.”

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The backlash against Lowe's has been quick and vociferous, with thousands of comments on its Facebook page and hundreds of blog posts attacking its move. The hacker group Anonymous even brought down the FFA's website on Dec. 13, just hours after the announcement.

On the other hand, many support the FFA and Lowe's stance. The blog www.barenakedislam.com, which labeled “All-American Muslim” a “shameful propaganda program,” said in a post, “BNI and its readers send heartfelt thanks to the Florida Family Association for their help in educating TLC advertisers about the fraud being perpetrated by that show re: Islamic community in this country.”

Has Lowe's acted correctly in pulling its advertising from the show?

When I first heard that Lowe's had pulled its ad, I was furious — but then I realized that other businesses had pulled their ads, too. So the problem isn't only with Lowe's. Also, shouldn't businesses be able to make free choices about with whom they advertise? Of course they should.

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