They are part of the national fabric that holds our country together. They contribute to America in many ways, and deserve the same respect as any of us. I pledge to spread this message, and affirm our country’s principles of liberty and justice for all.
Posted by Anni on Thursday, March 8th, 2012
There is no shortage of examples of large corporations pulling sponsorships to avoid or quell a public outcry. They often seem so skittish, so deeply afraid of damaging their reputations, that all it takes is the hint of a controversy to send them running. In some cases, like when Rush Limbaugh calls a young woman a prostitute for using birth control, we applaud the sponsors for dropping the lucrative client. In other cases, like when Lowe’s pulled their sponsorship from All American Muslim after a small conservative Christian group complained about the show, we reel in outrage at the injustice.
It’s very ironic that Lowe’s was trying to avoid controversy by dissociating themselves from All American Muslim. It’s difficult to imagine the thought process behind the decision. On the one hand, it makes me think they are just deeply out of touch with the consensus. On the other hand, it makes me fearful that I’m the one who’s out of touch. Are we really so fundamentally prejudiced that corporate America’s fear of supporting pro-Muslim television is legitimate? I don’t think that’s the case, as the outpouring of support for the show suggests.
More recently, in early February, another conservative activist group called One Million Moms called on JC Penney to drop their celebrity spokeswoman Ellen DeGeneres because she’s gay. I find this fascinating: JC Penney stood by DeGeneres, as did conservative pundit Bill O’reilly, one of the most staunchly conservative voices in the media. Perhaps it’s not fair to compare the two situations—these are two very different programs and clearly money has a lot to do with this equation—but the overarching question is a good one. How can we make tolerance and support of diversity and difference a good business decision across the board?
Clearly, these businesses are weighing public opinion when they make these decisions. I don’t know where they get their information. In the aftermath of the Lowe’s decision, the public outcry was tremendous. The Internet was abuzz with public support for All American Muslim and several large petitions pressing Lowe’s to reestablish their campaign circulated widely. The sheer numbers of signatures dwarfed the original petition from the Florida Family Association against it. That was deeply encouraging.
It looks like we’ll never know how Lowe’s would have handled the controversy in the long term. All American Muslim has been cancelled after a single season. TLC is keeping quiet about their reasons for the cancellation. I hope another network picks up the torch. We need the general public to finally accept that Muslim people are people too if we’re going to make support of this community good for business. It sounds harsh to say it that way, but in a capitalist country so driven by profit, money talks.