I would like to use my blog space to thank Lowe’s for the events of the past few days that led to the internet storm over the weekend.
So here is my heartfelt “thank you”: Thank you Lowe’s for exposing your bigotry for the whole world to see.
On Saturday, I began seeing my twitter feed fill up with tweets from Ali Abunimah, of Electronic Intifada, with the hashtag #LowesHatesMuslims. Quite naturally, that caused me investigate what was going on. To my dismay, found the email exchanges between Lowe’s and the FFA that provoked Abunimah’s twitterstorm exposing the exchange between Lowe’s and the Florida Family Association (FFA) that lead Lowe’s decision not to carry their advertisements during the airing of The Learning Channel’s “All American Muslim”.
While many say the FFA website is packed with stories exposing other companies, such as Home Depot, that have also decided to pull their advertising during the airing of “All American Muslim”, Lowe’s, for now, appears to be the only one that has admitted to their rather silly behaviour.
Lowe’s, through their actions, appears to have caved to the pressure of far right FFA who claimed the following on their website: “All-American Muslim is propaganda that riskily hides the Islamic agenda’s clear and present danger to American liberties and traditional values. The email alert encouraged supporters to send emails to the companies (including Lowes) that advertised during the December 4th and 5th episodes.”
To which, Lowe’s responded: “While we continue to advertise on various cable networks, including TLC, there are certain programs that do not meet Lowe’s advertising guidelines, including the show you brought to our attention. Lowe’s will no longer be advertising on that program.”
This has since placed Lowe’s at the centre of fury with the public threatening and demanding to boycott Lowe’s and encouraging consumers to shop at their local hardware stores. Given that the position of Lowe’s archrival competitor, Home Depot, is still unclear with regards to their relationship with the FFA and any decision to pull advertising during “All American Muslim”, Lowe’s alone has remained at the centre of attack. Since, Lowe’s have done very little by ways of damage control. From the Lowe’s Facebook page:
This program became a lighting rod for many of those views. As a result we did pull our advertising on this program. We believe it is best to respectfully defer to communities, individuals and groups to discuss and consider such issues of importance.
We strongly support and respect the right of our customers, the community at large, and our employees to have different views. If we have made anyone question that commitment, we apologize.
I commend Lowe’s for being the only company, thus far, to bravely place themselves on the chopping block for the entire world to see the depth of bigotry that operates behind the closed doors of the stores where we spend our hard earned money.
As a result, the outcry that transpired has been momentous for American Muslims to witness. Within hours of Abunimah’s twitterstorm, twitter was alight with angry tweets. The personal highlight of my evening was a tweet from Anonymous threatening to take action against Lowe’s for their irresponsible business choices. A tweet from CabinCr3w member “MotorMouth” stating “we need some home improvement done in the cabin so might take a trip there…” rounded off my rising spirits. Moments after the Anonymous tweets, Naheed Mustafa tweeted “it is heartening to see pepople outraged when Muslims are mistreated. I think, generally, Muslims find it surprising.”
By Monday night, I came to learn that Anonymous held to their word and took action in light of FFA’s misconduct around minorities in the United States, including gays and lesbians. An apparent DDoS of the FFA website followed by a “d0x” that states: “Your hatred, bigotry and fear mongering towards Gays, Lesbians and most recently Muslim Americans has not gone unnoticed!” The “d0x” further claims that both Anonymous and AntiSec were behind the attacks against the FFA.
As an American Muslim, I would like to take this opportunity to tell everyone what the past few days since the Lowe’s charade have felt like for me.
There is no exaggeration of truth when I say that I feel as if my spirits have lifted significantly. For over a decade American Muslims have borne the brunt of the worst kind of bigotry. We have seen our homes vandilised, our mosques the target of absolute hate and arson. We have witnessed our mothers and sisters who have remained brave enough to continue to wear the discernible “hijab”, or headscarf, despite bullying. Our businesses and charities have been forced to shut down; our communities spied upon; our leaders threatened; friends and jobs lost. All without impunity. Until now.
When I witnessed the internets, internet activists, and “hacktivists” ablaze with rage over how Lowe’s joined the bandwagon of hate, I suddenly felt less alone and less afraid. I felt a sense of protection I have not felt since 9/11. Americans, en masse, are now holding Islamophobes responsible for unjustifiably criminalising American Muslims. The fears I’ve been expressing over the past decade have actually receded some. While I may still be afraid of my government, I feel safe with the people.
My biggest hope is that now that Americans have spoken out against criminalising Muslims, the likes of those at Lowe’s inclined to make such poor prejudiced decisions will think twice before they do so. The only reason why Islamophobes have been getting away with their injustice is because very few people have been holding them accountable for their acts.
I feel like today is a new day.
Thank you America. Thank you patriots. This is what democracy and love looks like. We are the 99%.