They are dangerous. And no, I’m not talking about the five Muslim families in Dearborn Michigan depicted in TLC’s new series All American Muslim.
I’m talking about the Florida Family Association(FFA). They are a group with a campaign targeting the show's advertisers and who have successfully gotten Lowe's to remove their commercials.
From the FFA website:
The Learning Channel's new show All-American Muslim is propaganda clearly designed to counter legitimate and present-day concerns about many Muslims who are advancing Islamic fundamentalism and Sharia law. The show profiles only Muslims that appear to be ordinary folks while excluding many Islamic believers whose agenda poses a clear and present danger to liberties and traditional values that the majority of Americans cherish. ...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.
Yup. That’s their complaint. Having a show that would dare to depict “ordinary” Muslims.
Portraying the lives of family loving patriotic Muslims will make the rest of America take their eye off the ball of jihad.
Let me be honest. My first significant encounter with Islam was on 9/11/2001. It was another five years before I would sit down and have my first substantive encounter with a Muslim.
While I was never actively prejudiced against any Muslims I have to admit that my view of Islam in general was always refracted through the lens of 9/11. It was through personal encounters that let me see into another’s life that my view of the world grew more accurate.
Yes, there are those who call themselves Muslim that are violent and oppressive people AND there are Muslims who are peaceful and loving.
Yes, there are those who call themselves Christian that are violent and oppressive people AND there are Christians who are peaceful and loving.
My view of the world, and of Islam, got clearer as I got to know Muslims. Proximity allowed me to overcome a prejudice.
But, it was a proximity that I had to seek out.
All-American Muslim is making it accessible to people across the country that might not be in communities where there are many Muslims around for them to get to know.
Here is what is especially sad. All-American Muslim will help educate American’s who might not otherwise have contact with “ordinary” Muslims. But, what if it also ended up being a tool to fight extremism growing in some Muslim communities?
One of the greatest tools against extremism is to model alternatives. In a globalized world, Muslims across the globe could be watching this show. What if a younger generation is able to see their peers in America who share their religious beliefs live and practice in a different way they hadn’t thought possible before?
By attacking a show that depicts the lives of “ordinary” Muslims the Florida Family Association is promoting an ideology of necessary conflict. They are perpetuating the falsehood that difference is always dangerous.
But, those with differing religious beliefs can maintain their religious identities and live together peacefully. Conflict, is not a necessary bi-product of diversity.
Tim King is Communications Director for Sojourners. Follow Tim on Twitter @TMKing.