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Readers Respond to Lowe’s and All-American Muslim

BY HBSDEALER Staff

In one of the most passionate outbursts of reader mail of the year, the industry resoundingly sided with a retailer’s right to advertise — or not to advertise — wherever it deems fit. 

When Lowe’s stopped advertising with the TLC show "All-American Muslim," the retailer was criticized by freedom of religion advocates, who claimed the retailer reacted to pressure from a conservative Christian group. Critics of Lowe’s include California State Senator Ted Lieu. Lowe’s issued this statement on its Facebook page.

Here are some of the many comments HCN.com received on the subject. 

"Good for Lowe’s. They have the right to put their sponsorship money any place they believe will get them the most exposure."
— Don Dye
Mary’s River Lumber Co.
Corvallis, Ore.

"Americans in police and military uniforms have fought for the right to practice any form of religion without fear of persecution in this country. This was one of the fundamental principles our country was founded on.


“Having said that, I don’t think a retailer deciding not to advertise on a particular TV show whose sole purpose is a religious PR campaign to push a specific agenda, is ‘bigoted.’ There are plenty of fundamentalist Christian TV shows that most retailers wouldn’t want to advertise on simply because the people who watch those shows aren’t their core customer demographic. So, why are they bigoted if they don’t want to advertise on a Muslim TV show but not bigoted if they don’t want to advertise on a Christian TV show?"
— Steve White

“Lowe’s Home Improvement made its decision to end advertising during the TLC show ‘All-American Muslim’ following the bigoted outcry of the Florida Family Association (FFA).  The FFA claims the program is a form of ‘propaganda that riskily hides the Islamic agenda’s clear and present danger to American liberties and traditional values.’

“Ironically, Lowe’s CEO Robert Niblock oversees the Lowe’s Social Responsibility policy for Diversity & Inclusion. The policy states: ‘Lowe’s is committed to treating each customer, employee, community, investor and vendor with respect and dignity.’ I urge Niblock to add the following amendment: ‘So long as that customer, employee, community, investor or vendor doesn’t practice Islam, a belief that offends an ignorant and backwards segment of our market.’ I encourage readers to respond to this un-American decision and confront bigotry by shopping somewhere other than Lowe’s for their home improvement needs. I’ll also encourage readers to remember a time not so long ago in our nation’s past when Americans of all colors and creeds stood up to bigotry by boycotting ‘White Only’ businesses intent on supporting the destructive culture of injustice and inequality. Lowe’s has a right to cancel their advertising during the TLC program. Society has an ethical and moral duty to stand up against an unjust influence of those attempting to pit Americans against Americans on account of differing faiths.”
— Adam Staerkel
Austin, Texas

"Now we are defining religious freedom by forced financial sponsorship."
— Jeff Wilson

“If Lowe’s had decided to quite advertising on a Christian-based program would Senator Ted Lieu have called Lowe’s bigoted, shameful and un-American? I don’t think so.

“Lowe’s should be able to use its advertising money anyway it sees fit.”
— Steve Johnson
Johnson Hardware

“We seem to be always finding people trying to sublimate freedom in order to accommodate special interest groups. When it comes to advertising, a company should always have the right and responsibility to its shareholders to pick the proper type of advertising that will maximize ROI. With the Muslim population in the USA approximately 2.5 million people or .8% of the population total, I think it would be a bad idea to spend precious ad dollars to appeal to that small demographic. I would have made the decision to pull those ads also, and most likely would not have considered them in the first place.

“We are a free society, and I do not believe that any special interest group should impede free commerce. I also believe that it is imperative for companies to put the interest of their stockholders and customers first, and spending money and time on this issue is not in the best interest of either of these groups.”
— George McCullough
Global director of sales and marketing
Quaker Chemical Corporation/Coatings division

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M.Mazzone says:
Jan-05-2012 04:33 pm

Below is a copy of an email
Below is a copy of an email sent by our local councilman to God knows how many people in Brooklyn. While I personally know and respect the councilman and appreciate the endorsement, it put us in a strange position. Personally, I think Lowes, like any small business, should be free to advertise wherever they choose. For all I know, Lowes pulled it's advertising because of the show's awful ratings, and not because of any political pressure. Let Lowes advertise where and when they want, and let me sell "CHRISTMAS" trees, say Merry Christmas, In God We Trust, and "One nation under God". At the risk of getting too political here I will say the following: I understand the purspose of the show is to show that the majority of muslims are good, hardworking people. I also understand that all of us can, and should, be tolerant of other religions. I try to remind myself of that every time I look over the water and remember ten years ago when myself, my customers, friends, and family were covered in toxic dust, injured, or murdered by those two building that fell right near us. The point I am making is that this country still is licking its wounds and has not forgotten about that horrible day, nor should we. I, for one, strongly disagree with the politicians that feel the need to pander to any religion, at the expense of our American culture, simply because they want to "earn" their vote without any regard for what the people of this country might be feeling. While I would like nothing more than to see Lowes close the store a few blocks from me, I think it's unfair to badmouth them simply because their advertising department chose to no longer advertise on a TV show that depicts the muslim culture. Would these politicans have done the same if Lowes refused to advertise during the midnight Mass given by the Pope? Matt ***************** Big box home improvement chain Lowe's attaches the tagline "Never Stop Improving" to its television ads. But this week, Lowe's corporate self-improvement efforts ground to a halt when it caved to pressure from an anti-Muslim organization and pulled its advertising from the reality show "All-American Muslim," which depicts the lives of five families in Dearborn, Michigan. It's a shame that such a large and influential company, which claims to be "strongly committed to diversity and inclusion," would bend to the will of an intolerant group set on undermining the religious freedoms that this country was founded on. Lowe's has the right to advertise wherever it chooses, of course. And we as consumers have the right -- the power-- to shop where we choose, and spend money in a way that is most aligned with our values. So where should we go to pick up that snow shovel and rock salt for the winter, or the tools and materials for home renovations? Our district's many family-owned hardware stores are a great answer for those of us who would like to shop at businesses that respect our neighbors. As I've noted before, small business owners frequently live in the community and remain invested in our neighborhoods economically and socially. They frequently provide jobs to local residents, take the "high road" in how they relate to neighbors, workers, and the environment, and also have a proud record of supporting local not-for-profit groups. Mazzone Hardware on Court Street and 4th Place is a shining example of a family-owned business that gives back to the community. Mazzone's has served Carroll Gardens since 1950, and owner Vincent Mazzone is a tireless community activist who has worked to improve the neighborhood for more than 40 years.

A.STAERKEL says:
Dec-14-2011 09:08 pm

In my letter, I acknowledged
In my letter, I acknowledged the right of Lowe's to cancel their advertising following the pressure of more than 700,000 emails sent through the FFA website. The thrust of my submission was simply to point out their unwillingness to do the right thing in the face of ignorance and bigotry, while still touting a corporate policy of diversity and inclusion. Placing profits ahead of principle was wrong in the times of the "Whites Only" businesses, and it's wrong now. “Conscience... is the impulse to do right because it is right, regardless of personal ends.” Margaret C. Graham

L.Wilson says:
Dec-14-2011 06:16 pm

A lot of businesses and
A lot of businesses and people for that matter shy away from religion and politics. Are we going to get a list and disect and discuss every new show's advertisers and nonadvertisers? Is every business who doesn't advertise on this show bigoted? Why doesn't Ambercrombie advertise on The 700 Club? This is such a stupid thing to be discussing. So the marketing department decided that people who watch that show are not their target audience and that it's not the best use of their advertising dollars (that are more scarce in this economy and with the U.S. government being the highest taxer of businesses in the world).

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