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The Florida Family Association’s Un-Christian Jihad on TLC’s “All-American Muslim”

| January 6, 2012

American girl.

A very few Floridians have a disproportionate way of making the Sunshine State seem like ground zero to a latter-day Inquisition. If it isn’t Terry Jones threatening to burn the Koran at his Gainesville madrassa or members of the Jacksonville City Council freaking out over a Muslim serving on the city’s human rights commission, it’s an obscure, porn-obsessed organization called the Florida Family Association going goon on ordinary Muslims—and getting a Fortune 500 company to endorse the bigotry.

Pierre Tristam FlaglerLive editor

Pierre Tristam

The Live Column

So I’m watching clips from this television show. Or what passes for television in the age of trivia recast as reality. In one clip, parents and their grown children are having dinner and discussing one of the daughters’ hopes of moving to Washington, D.C., to further her career. In another, a cop declares himself American, “no ifs or buts about it.” Yet another features successive sequences of people dancing, hugging and texting as a voice-over says: “Our community is complicated, and even within our own families, we don’t always agree.”

There’s nothing remarkable about any of this. In fact it’s quite dull. We’re watching Americans do what Americans do anywhere, except for one detail. The characters, some of whom wear head scarves, are from Dearborn, Mich. Dearborn has the nation’s largest concentration of Arabs after Los Angeles. The TV show is “All-American Muslim.” (A third to half of Dearborn’s Arab population is Christian, but we’ll let that little irony slip.) The show premiered a few weeks ago on the TLC channel, home of Jon & Kate plus Sarah Palin’s Alaska fantasies.

None of this is remarkable, either. Nine-Eleven unleashed a cottage industry of showbiz acts that would have hardly made it to air but for the sole burlesquy premise that they feature Arabs or Muslims “humanized” as comedic everyday Schmoes (“Arabs Gone Wild,” “Little Mosque on the Prairie,” the “Allah Made Me Funny Comedy Tour”). It’s the 21st century version of vaudevillian Wild West shows. The premise may be just as condescending (“Look, normal Muslims just like us!”) but at least the stars of the shows get to define themselves, an improvement over the 19th century’s mascotry of Native Americans in irreality shows like Buffalo Bill’s.

The show’s tired reality formula aside, “All-American Muslim” is in essence a celebration of integration, of the power of American ideals to conquer most differences without erasing them. Diversity and individualism thrive—as they would not in the old country. It’s one more chapter in the often inspiring story of immigration in this country.

What the Florida Family Association found objectionable about “All-American Muslim” is—get this—the normalcy of the Muslims in the show. They’re too ordinary. Too mundane. Too much like “Modern Family,” but with head scarves, accents and pita instead of Wonder. “Clearly,” the association claims (borrowing the words of Pamela Geller, a frequent-flying Islamophobe), “this program is attempting to manipulate Americans into ignoring the threat of jihad and to influence them to believe that being concerned about the jihad threat would somehow victimize these nice people in this show.”

Clearly. (Waiter, there’s a jihad in my soup.)

The association’s zealots could—and should—have been left to their own delusions but for this: they wrote several advertisers to pull their ads from “All-American Muslim.” Lowe’s, the home-improvement chain, bowed. And one more Florida hate group got its name on the map under the guise of protecting Christian values, which in this case are indistinguishable in their intolerance from those peddled, say, by Saudi Arabia’s religious police, who go around sniffing for infidels and unveiled women to harass.

Bigots are by nature humorless, their sense of irony gnarled by ignorance: What the family association’s campaign is saying, and what that not quite all-American home-improvement chain is essentially endorsing, is that Americanization can’t be trusted, a strangely insecure message for a culture so powerful as ours. They claim the show deceives by not telling the full story of Muslim extremism, as if the aberrant behavior of a rare few should define the identity of a billion souls.

Then again, that’s precisely how a very few aberrant fools at the Florida Family Association, yearning for “No Muslims Allowed” signs everywhere, are smearing this state’s reputation while drafting Lowe’s to their little un-Christian jihad. The association would be better off sticking to what it knows best: smut.

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34 Responses for “The Florida Family Association’s Un-Christian Jihad on TLC’s “All-American Muslim””

  1. palm coast is home says:

    For the first time PIerre, I totally agree with you! Bigotry is the name of Christianity … ??? why do they not see the contradiction?

    • Layla says:

      I would suggest everyone take the time to go to the website of the Florida Family Association and READ about this before we all jump to conclusions.

      I just did, and what I understood it to mean was that the objection is that it gives a false sense of security with regards to who may actually be a jihadist threat to anyone in this country. These people certainly aren’t a threat. They are adapting and doing as anyone would, from what I can see.

      Not all Muslims live so peacefully in this country. Just as not all Christians in this country live peacefully or abide by the tenents of their religion. Would suggest you also look up “honor killings” under Sharia law. It condones murder in certain radical Muslim families.

      Just as some Christian groups can be radical in the things they do, most are not.

      That is what I took from reading their website. Read the site, watch the show, make up your own mind. But I think the objection might have been it does not clearly show you the entire picture and if it is leaving out Sharia and honor killings, then it does not.

    • Pierre:

      Opinions are like noses, every one has one.

      Your said “The question is whether that opinion, and in this case the association’s premise for putting pressure on advertisers, stands up to reason and the sort of values we claim to live by in this country.”

      After reading this article, I went over to FFA’s webpage and read the review in question. Personally I believe they make a convincing argument. They spoke to many of my concerns.

      FFA review on the American Muslim

      The architects the American Constitution and Bill of Rights did humanity a incredible service. I believe their intent was to give humanity a religious safe heaven. The fact that a Christian can co-exist with a Muslim, as well as an atheist in the same nation is a marvel that the world has only seen in the last 200 years. In light of history, It is nothing less than miraculous. For me personally ,I have to stop and take a breath. … When you consider the centuries of Holy wars between the Muslim Turks and the Catholic Church, the crusades, the English civil wars in the 1600’s, and more recently, the wars in Ireland between the protestants and Catholics. The conflicts between the Sunnis and Shiites in Iraq that date back to the 7th Century. All were religiously motivated. The peaceful cohabitation of all these opposing faiths here in the US, blows my mind!

      I can appreciate your concern that peaceful Americans are being vilified. However, I can also appreciate the reality that Islam is responsible for a great deal of violence currently taking place in this world. When I examine Islam’s world view and the mechanics of their faith, I quickly discover that their faith is anti- American. If they became the majority in this country it would mean a national death. Islam does not separate between church and state. It imposes mandatory Islamic faith on those citizens that wish to participate in its society. If given the opportunity, they would replace our beloved constitution with their beloved Sharia law. The freedom of speech and the freedom of religion we all enjoy, would go the way of the wind and our right to have an opinion would no longer be tolerated.

      Mr. Tristam I ask that you consider your opinions very carefully. Our enemies would love it if we foolishly closed our eyes to their presents or embraced them as friends. The premise of the American Muslim is indeed dangerous. If the American Muslim truly believe what they are being taught, my way of life and my religion will be an affront to them. Given the right set of variables they can be mobilized to conduct jihad not only in my soup, but in airplanes and populated places of commerce as well. Places like.. Hmmm, say the twin towers perhaps?

  2. Angela Smith via Facebook says:

    The “FFA” notwithstanding, not everyone in Florida is a rabid xenophobe.

  3. Justin Digeorgio via Facebook says:

    Everyone has a right in this county to believe in whaterver they want, so with that being said if you don’t like the show then don’t watch it and how is being Muslim effect Florida Family Association? They just need to mind there our own dam business!!!

    • xenithorb says:

      I would like to point out: The same right you’re alluding to in *your* post, is exactly the same one that grants him the freedom to write such a piece, if he so chooses, on a show that he happened to watch. The extension of freedom doesn’t end at “don’t do this if you don’t like it,” but continues on to being able to be vocal about those experiences, and to have an opinion.

      Also, your grammar is horrendous.

    • Wuffendok says:

      My Dear Sir, It is not one’s own business when it comes to national security. FFA and any other citizen has the right to speak up when they see a concern at National Level. Are you going to shut these voices up?

      Aaron Rushing, Bravo! Very cool headed reasoning. The author of this article belongs to a group of people who is more a problem than the Islamic Extremists, because Extremism exists but people like this author chooses to confuse the issue and the readers thus opening our door wide to extremism elements inside America. I read the FFA review and I found the concerns well based. Why does the author choose to call the FFA a “porn-based organization”? Why does he throw words like bigotry, Islamophobia so readily? Is speaking out one’s well founded concerns automatically puts him into the category of Islamophobia and bigotry? If you have not been aware who coined the term “Islamophobia” you may want to know that it is the Muslim Brotherhood who invented this term. The main reason is just what you have done – an attempt to silence the critics. It is unconscionable that a learned person like you would be carelessly choosing such words to do what the MB intended to do. You should be ashamed of attacking the FFA based on your agenda. We do not care about your agenda, we are interested in the security of this country.

      Layla, you have a very noble view of treating all people equal. But how would you distinguish a friend from an enemy if you view them all equal? Do you wait for them to bomb the World Trade Towers then you declare them enemies? The terrorists are ordinary people until they killed 3000 Americans. Now aren’t ordinary people are all equal?

      themontecito, It is not as simple as you said. There are races that are extremely tribal in nature and they resist modernization. You can play with all the kids in peace because they have not become extremists. Fact shows that tribalism breeds intolerance and extremism. I afraid while you are playing with all these different kids you may also want to know there is a potential for some of them to become extremists if they have the background and affinity. Don’t use your individual example to generalize the fact that there are good people and evil people in the world. Most of them transit between good and evil. This is why we need to distinguish. For it is a constant struggle between good and evil. It will be there as long as there are humans. So don’t be surprised when the next extreme force over takes our country.

  4. Gary Rumain says:

    Pierre, you are a tool. The FFA have a right to their opinion. You have no right to deny them that right.

    • Layla says:

      I don’t think Pierre is trying to deny them the right to their own opinion. It’s in the news. I think he wrote this to encourage us to educate ourselves, to learn about different cultures, to be more tolerant and respectful of one another, to make us think and respond. That simple, really.

      All immigrants to this country go through the difficulty of blending in, of trying to become American and adapt to our lifestyle. There is going to be controversy on this for a long time. Pay attention, learn about it. Be helpful when you can, but also be aware of the entire picture.

      Know who your friends are and know who your enemies are. And I’m still not sure that has anything to do with religion. If you’re going to be a bigot, you’re going to be a bigot and thankfully most of us don’t take that well in this country.

  5. themontecito says:

    You wrote the keyword BIGOT- need I say more?

    But I will:

    I grew up in a very mix neighborhood, Italians, Irish, Greman, German-irish, Jews,Muslims, Puerto Rican, Dominicans, Jews, Blacks, Southern Blacks, Muslims, Indians, Pakistians, Chinese, Koreans. and lets throw in a few generations of Americans. Oh did I mention Jews and Muslims?

    During those childhood days I remember my father sitting in his recliner to watch TV and his ash tray stand with the built in lighter waiting for Americas favorite BIGOT “Archie Bunker.”

    Archie Bunker could relate to every part of the country then as it does today.

    Pretty sad really because 40 years later not much has changed.

    As just a kid I played with every child listed above.

    They were welcome in my house as I was at theirs, funny thing though the jewish kids and the muslim kids played too nobody seemed to know the difference. (1968)

    I have to say it being a bigot seems to be a way of life here in the south and only a few seem to know the difference (2012)…….

    • Wuffendok says:

      It is not as simple as you said. There are races that are extremely tribal in nature and they resist modernization. You can play with all the kids in peace because they have not become extremists. Fact shows that tribalism breeds intolerance and extremism. I afraid while you are playing with all these different kids you may also want to know there is a potential for some of them to become extremists if they have the background and affinity. Don’t use your individual example to generalize the fact that there are good people and evil people in the world. Most of them transit between good and evil. This is why we need to distinguish. For it is a constant struggle between good and evil. It will be there as long as there are humans. So don’t be surprised when the next extreme force over takes our country.

  6. palmcoaster says:

    I been living and doing business in Florida since 1991…after moving here from the frozen belt up North.
    I love Florida so far….being aware that nothing is perfect while looking at the alternatives…
    Prejudice is a personal individual feeling on a human being that when transferred to ignorant masses from the pulpit or the podium, can become a problem for the targeted groups or individuals. My advise to those targeted by these ignorant brainwashed masses or individuals is always to; never give in to bullies, stand up for your rights and be cleaver at how you do it and always very cautious and alert on anticipating where the unexpected “arrows” may come from! Unfortunately this poisoned environment increased in 2001 after 9-11 pointing the conservative accusatory finger to the wrong sacrificial lamb minorities including Hispanics this time. Remember that in a distant past was done to the Irish, the Jewish the Japanese Americans etc.
    Do as Montecito says above, lets look at the funny side of it like, we did and still enjoy the replays watching Archie Bunker. After all bigotry=ignorance, as typical upfront disliking of what we don’t know or have not tasted yet… I disagree with Montecito in one thing, as the current prejudice is South, North, East and West.
    Stand cleaver firm your grounds, while being honest and law abiding citizens, because no matter which fanatic bigot out there will try to harm you, the majority good citizens of America and our Red, White and Blue are in your side.

  7. palmcoaster says:

    The Florida Family Association will do a much more positive work by helping to find or create jobs for the unemployed and find housing for the homeless, as they endure their tragedy to no fault of their own, other than directing their prejudice to Muslims or any other minority. Get busy helping America not creating more riff raff.

  8. Badge says:

    This is America right ? Each has a choice and an opinion. Just like you Pierre…You are from Lebanon and a muslim, RIGHT ? I’m from Ireland and a protestant. You don’t like the opinions of others here in America, go back to Lebanon. When I grow tired of the insanity here in America, I will go back to Ireland. But one thing is for sure….The opinions will stay the same and no one will change !

  9. "My Daily Rant" says:

    Pierre: If you dont like our country or the fact that we have free speech which includes people that Pierre doesnt agree with, there is an option, GO HOME.Over in europe they are cutting down on Immergration to 10%.Why you ask because when they populate an area they want to impose some of the laws of their country. Like honor killing even once of this is to much.The Illegal ones drain our resources like health care, welfare and so on.Also I watched this show once, it sucked,and who really cares how muslims live in this country. Oh and Pierre you strongly accuse this group of being involved with porn,show us your proof,do an article on your proof.Making such a bold statement as you have should mean you have actual proof, if not it just means your a hack, a bias hack.Looking forward to reading your article that backs up your claim.

    • Pierre Tristam says:

      It gets tiresome to have to do this again and again but lets do anyway. Of course anyone is entitled to his or her opinion. That’s not in dispute here. The question is whether that opinion, and in this case the association’s premise for putting pressure on advertisers, stands up to reason and the sort of values we claim to live by in this country. The point I’m making has nothing to do with the association’s right to make an ass of itself, a right it lives up to with admirable efficiency, but that its asinine assiness fouls precisely the sort of values some of you claim to be speaking of.

      Badge, a point of clarification: i can only wish I were a Muslim. As it is I was born catholic which, as cults go, is nothing to be proud of considering Catholics’ league-leading records of bloodletting, genocide and intolerance. I try to be Jewish at least one day a week, to atone.

      • "My Daily Rant" says:

        Well Pierre Im sure muslims would welcome you into their fold.You sound like you would make a good muslim.As far as the vendor pulling the ad, maybe they share the same beliefs as the “Associations”or maybe they actully watched the show.It really sucks, I mean why do Americans as a whole really care how muslims live.This show looks like it was designed to win over the hearts of Americans, guess what not working.I have read parts of the koran and it is full of violence, we dont need more of that in this country.Muslims have been around for a long time here in this country, The thing that really brought them into the lime light was 9/11.We took those muslims into our country taught them to fly planes and look at what they did.We will never forget,but over time we might forgive.Still waiting for article on “Association Porn article”

        • Nancy N. says:

          My Daily Rant – The Koran isn’t the only violent religious book – read the bible lately? That’s the most violent book that I’ve ever read. Wars, murders…they don’t call it “biblical justice” for nothing. Ever heard the phrase “an eye for an eye”?

  10. roco says:

    Is this Casey Anthony ? The eyes appear evil.

  11. palmcoaster says:

    @Roco: To some, all black or brown eyes will always appear evil, unless are blue or green….Regarding some suggestions here like “if you don’t like it” or the exercise of one’s freedom of speech puzzles some and for that is a naturalized speaker, should then GO HOME! Better you guys pack your bags and take a hike as well, as only our Native American Tribes have the only right to remain in this soil. Looks like a bunch of descendants of original occupying pioneers forget their immigrant origins. Really laughable.

  12. palmcoaster says:

    @Mydailyrant regarding your mentioned violence in the Koran…really?. Have you read our whole Bible yet..? once you do it, then lets talk about some violent passages on it as well.

  13. patty says:

    Pierre is only reporting on the unconstitutional and bigoted action of the FFA and the cowardice of Lowe’s and Kayak, actions which actually took place after the airing of “All American Muslim”. I have seen a couple of episodes and find that the program is no more or no less uninteresting than any other reality show on TV. What amazes and disgusts me is the personal vitriol directed at Pierre simply for reporting on this story in very objective and prescient terms. For those who don’t understand, it is a matter of casting pearls before swine.

  14. palmcoaster says:

    @ Well said patty! For some here, is a case of killing the messenger.
    Thank you Pierre for your courage to report without sugar coating.

  15. palmcoaster says:

    @Aaron Rushing..Your concerns about Muslim violence should be looked thru a very realistic history that shows clearly that exactly the other side (unfortunatly includes us by alliance) have been stealing their land and oil since 1947 after the forced settlement of Israel.
    How would you like that a victorious foreign nation will come and part our country in two and give it, just per say, to the Krishna’s or other religious group?
    Muslims violent, terrorist, aggressors..? Have you read about the massacres taking place in Muslim nations and committed by foreign aggressors hands, are their lives less valuable than ours, often based on lies? Or you consider Muslims, people of a lesser God…? Is really sad that our country has been driven to the current alliance since 1947, that have cost the lives of so many of our young brave ones plus draining our national finances, the destruction of so many cities and lives in the Muslim vast world that comprises 21.1 of our Earth land and had made us their # 2 enemy of 1.57 billion Muslim souls! What we are actually doing should be concerning you more, than the reaction of those attacked.
    I believe God gave us all precious possessions to survive: He gave us these fertile prairies, some precious metals and our wondrous lands. To the Muslims he gave them only barren deserts, stones and OIL.
    Then don’t steal it from them. Lets trade and respect each other, otherwise we are the architects of our own demise, in the name of these alliances. If you don’t believe it, just look at America today, we are getting there. Stop the hate please.

  16. Jojo says:

    If I may add my two cents, I think it is only a matter of time until Muslims assimilate into this great country. I didn’t say “culture”. Immigrants including the American Indian have kept their culture intact and Muslims are no exception. The fears of 911 have embellished and propagated paranoia, bigotry and a certain downright meanness to the Muslim community.

    One of the great visionaries that encouraged assimilation of culture was Alexander The Great who encouraged his men to marry, concubine and propagate each country he conquered. Because it reinforced and held together Alexander’s great expanse of conquest. That’s what makes this country so great. We see a glimpse of this in the European Common Market today but more so with Euro.

    Personally, I welcome the Muslim community to this country without prejudice and yearn to learn more about their culture and religion. Shame on Lowe’s for caving into the bigotry.

    Oh, I am a BIC (Bronx Irish Catholic).

  17. @palmcoaster:

    I don’t believe I am spreading hate. Take a look at this article I posted at called The Florida Family Association Targets the All-American Muslim on TLC.

    In all fairness, there are two sides to every coin. Take a look at this video discussing the West Bank conflict from the Israeli perspective It is one of several.

    Even so this article was discussing local attitudes toward American Muslims. Mr. Tristam felt the FFA had gone over the top. It had nothing to do with Israel or Palestine. I and those like me look at things like Victory Mosque’s being built 2 blocks from Ground Zero, and the influence Islam had on Anwar al-Awlaki, the American Jihadist who was among America’s top ten most wanted terrorists, illustrating that the All-American Muslim may not necessarily be one of the good ol’ boys. The FFA simply wants to make sure the whole truth is being told. No one is saying that all Muslims in America are bad people. Yet the reality show “All-American Muslim” suggests that all Islamic Americans are patriots. That is indeed a dangerous assumption.

  18. Underdog says:

    If FFA were truely intolerant, they would demand that TLC not air the show at all. What a lot of people don’t realize is that Lowe’s, Kayak, and others decided to pull their ads PRIOR to being contacted by FFA because the show is crap. You are killing the messenger. People that keep using the term islamaphobe and bigot are nothing but juvenile name callers that haven’t looked in the mirror lately.

  19. roco says:

    Say what you want , these are evil people.

    • Oneofthe10%whovoted says:

      I’ll take the Marines. Muslims cut the heads off their victims and hang their bodies from overpasses when they are kicking, spitting on them and dragging them through the streets.

      They also stone their women.

      It’s not a perfect world.

  20. roco says:

    Palmcoaster. The Geneva Convention rule are not followed by these low lifes so why should we???

    [Roco, the rest of your comment was deleted for being gratuitously insulting to a fellow-commenter. Golden rule, Roco, golden rule. It’ll save us time. Thanks.–FlaglerLive]

  21. Grin4Smilez says:

    Roco pretty much sums up the ignorance that has plagued our country since day one.

    Who cares what rules a “low life” may follow? The point is that we should strive to be better. The idea of America was based on freedom, yet our country has a long history of using hypocritical methods to achieve this idea. Look at what America did to Native Americans. Look at the length of time slavery stood its ground until it was abolished. Look at the length of time we discriminated against other cultures…wait. We’re still doing that, aren’t we?

    If Lowe’s was afraid of losing money and pulled their content, that’s fine. A business decision is a business decision.

    The whole point of the article was to highlight the viewpoint of the FFA. Personally, I think most “reality tv” is complete garbage.

    But this article really brought out the truth, didn’t it? It exposed people’s fear, and it’s pretty clear that we still have a long way to go. If Roco here could fathom how many SIMILARITIES the bible shares with the koran, he may decide to be an atheist (if he’s not already.)

    Don’t shoot the messenger because you’re afraid of the real issue: You’re scared to death of losing your culture or having it abused by anyone. The irony is that this same fear causes you to abuse other cultures to assert that there is some measure of permanence in what you believe.

    Nothing is permanent, but accepting that impermanence is what helps us to move forward. No culture can survive as it was or as it is. We can only move forward together.

  22. Concerned Detroiter says:

    Have you had much experience with Muslim businesses? I have gone to their stores, gas stations, service stations etc. They make me feel very uncomfortable the way they look at me, also the way they treat non Muslims with looks that concern me. I try to befriend them but find there is a barrier there. So far not much success but I will keep trying.

    To build trust, you need to be able to communicate with them. We have an Muslim family living nearby, and when they moved in I tried to get to know them. I waved to the woman as I drove by and she waved back and smiled. I next waved to the man and wife when they were in the yard, and had intended to stop and welcome them. She smiled and waved, he looked angry. She has not responded again for five years, he always looks po’d at me when I drive by. They both look like medical professionals, and live in a nice home.

    We all need to try to reach out to each other and be friends when possible. Try to get to know your Muslim neighbors, then try to make decisions based on your personal experience. Your neighbor could become your best friend or…….could be someone to be cautious about.

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