The attack upon the TLC reality show “All-American Muslim” by anti-Muslims bigots is but part of an ongoing cultural war with the objective of marginalizing Muslims from popular culture relevance among our nation’s status quo, baby-boomer White Christians and their children.
Among Blacks and Latinos especially in urban centers for approximately three decades, Muslims have obtained cultural relevance through hip-hop (rap music, graffiti art and breaking). From Big Daddy Kane saying “hold up the peace sign, As-Salaam Alaikum,” to Lauryn Hill rapping that “I make salaat like a Sunni” to current rap sensation Lupe Fiasco, younger people, especially those coming from marginalized communities don’t possess irrational fears about Islam and Muslims because they have been influenced culturally by Muslims. And though hip-hop music is still one of the most consumed music forms in America, much of the status quo of the society are not hip-hop connoisseurs. Hence, we don’t see the Islamophobia machine calling advertisers of the Soul Train Music awards, who have the likes of Big Daddy or calls for Best Buy to stop carrying Lupe’s “creeping shari’ah” cd’s, but we see the calls of Islamophobes to pressure advertisers such as Lowe’s to pull ads from “All-American Muslim,”a show that is not only openly Muslim but provides a picture of Muslims as everyday people, which is resonating with the status quo of America.
We witnessed this fear of anything equated with Muslims being normalized in the pop culture in 2008 when Dunkin Donuts pulled an ad with Rachel Ray wearing a black and white kuffiyyah because bigots stated that the scarf, which is an Arabic cultural garment worn by Christians and Muslims, is a so-called symbol of “terrorism.” Dunkin Donuts succumbed to the calls of bigots, and Rachel Ray was labeled a “terrorist sympathizer” for daring to wear a scarf that is associated in the minds of many with Muslims and more directly Palestinian Muslims, who resist the illegal Israeli occupation.
Though the vitriol being spewed at “All-American Muslim” is not at the level as the Park51 aka “Ground Zero mosque” controversy of 2010, the stakes are still high for the anti-Muslim bigots to scuttle the TLC show, and I believe that civil, right-minded people need to support “All-American Muslim” just as Park51 was defended. Supporting “All-American Muslim” does not mean endorsing all of its content and characters but means standing up against well organized efforts, which seek to block American Muslims out of any positive frames within pop culture among the status quo.
I frankly do not care for the sofa discussions that delve into issues of Islamic creed and jurisprudence on “All-American Muslim,” nor do I endorse the attitudes conveyed by Nina Bazzy, who seeks to open a nightclub with a bar in Dearborn. Moreover as it relates to Park51, I thought that it was extremely short sighted that Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf, his wife Daisy Khan and others affiliated with the project didn’t consult with the Muslim community regarding the wisdom of the project and public relations in the beginning, nor did I like much of Abdul Rauf’s comments in the media, especially his reasoning that if Park51 wasn’t built that it would empower terrorists. And I surely did not and still do not agree with all of his Islamic interpretations.
However, I defended the Park51 project based upon its constitutional rights and against the coordinated efforts of Pamella Geller and her fellow minions of hate to further marginalize American Muslims. Likewise, I think that we should push back against efforts to banish “All-American Muslim” off of the air through pressuring TLC and its advertisers.
If we sit back and allow the likes of Geller and the Florida Family Association to banish us from positive discussion within mainstream America, we’ll all be the losers, whether you like “All-American Muslim” or not. Watch the show, and encourage others to do the same is one way of pushing back against bigotry.