In outrage over Lowe’s controversy, moderation is drowned out

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN) - Lowe's knows that it opened Pandora's box when the company "managed to step into a hotly contested debate" by pulling its advertising from the reality TV show "All-American Muslim."

"Lowe's has received a significant amount of communication on this program, from every perspective possible," it said in a statement. "Individuals and groups have strong political and societal views on this topic, and this program became a lightning rod for many of those views."

But "communication to the company" was far from the start of it. Almost anyone with an opinion, from bloggers to commentators and Twitters users, aired diverging views. And though the viewpoints getting the most coverage were from those with the biggest platforms, there is growing sentiment online that what Lowe's did was wrong but allowable.

The religion blog The Crescat exemplifies this point of view:

Company's have the right to decide how and where they wish to spend their money for advertising. If the intentions of Lowe's are bigoted and racist, so what? Then boycott Lowe's and shop at Home Depot instead or, even better, your local hardware store.

Lowe's pulled the advertising after groups including the Florida Family Association complained to the company. In its letter, the family group wrote that the show was not portraying Muslim Americans realistically. The letter also stated:

Clearly 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.

What the family group wrote is not politically correct, one commenter at Yahoo wrote. But Lowe's is:

Free to spend their advertising money wherever they wish. The problem is it's not PC to do what they did and now are suffering backlash.

Arsalan Iftikhar, in a contribution to this blog, argues that this situation is more than just being politically correct; it is about bigotry. Would a major American company remove its commercials, he asks, from a show highlighting the lives of Latinos, African-Americans, Jewish Americans or members of the LGBT community?

Iftikhar, who has also used Twitter to espouse his beliefs on this situation, wrote:

If you think this kind of bigotry could not happen in modern-day America, you would be absolutely wrong.

In an interview with CNN's John King, David Caton, executive director of the Florida Family Association, commended the Lowe's decision, stating that the show was not fully defining the term "Muslim." Canton told King:

This show is totally absent the true essence of Islam, which is the focus of a Muslim believer. ... We believe this show is propaganda, and we have called on advertisers across the country to pull.

And even though TLC is not releasing the names of other advertisers that have pulled away from the show, according to Caton, Lowe's is not the only company to heed his organization's call.

And so the controversy continued online. Just hours after the news broke, a petition asked certain company leaders to repudiate calls to stop the advertising.

The petition was directed at companies from Clinique to Sonic, from Home Depot to Step & Shop. Organizers even planned to send the petition to Time Warner, the parent company of CNN.

The main argument as to why Lowe's decision is bigger than just Muslims is that it is a slippery slope toward more targeted, bigoted advertisement.

"No Christian Jewish Buddhist or Hindu should sit by and watch this w/out reacting," hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons tweeted.

That opinion was far from universally supported, though; it was just as easy to find someone commending Lowe's as it was to find someone criticizing the hardware giant.

Read the original article at CNN Belief Blog  2011-12-14 »

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