Kayak Paddles Into “All-American Muslim” Uproar


Lowe’s caused an uproar when the DIY chain pulled its ads from TLC’s month-old reality show, All-American Muslim, which follows the adventures of five Muslim-American families that live near Detroit. That action caused plenty of anger to surface about the company as well as a call to boycott its stores by California State Senator Ted Lieu.

Now travel website Kayak.com is getting similar treatment. The site announced that it had decided to discontinue its ads mostly because it felt that the producers of the show hadn’t been totally upfront about its content.

“Any reasonable person would know that this topic is a particular lightning rod,” Kayak’s chief marketing officer, Robert Birge, wrote on the company’s blog. “We believe TLC went out of their way to pick a fight on this, and they didn’t let us know their intentions. That’s not a business practice that generally gets repeat business from us.”[more]

Birge goes on to say that he watched the first two episodes of the show and he was not impressed. “I just thought the show sucked,” he bluntly wrote.

A Muslim-American writer for the Daily Beast wasn’t impressed, noting that rather than being a Cosby Show for Muslims, as CBS anchor Katie Couric had suggested, it was more like a Jersey Shore for Muslim-Americans. Not exactly how you want to be represented to a culture that often stereotypes you already.

Meanwhile, the Florida Family Association, the conservative Christian organization that has been pressuring Lowe’s and other brand marketers to pull their ads by sending more than 700,000 letters, has gotten some backlash of its own as well.

The hacktivist group Anonymous found a way into the FFA’s website and planted a message on its home page, claiming that the FFA “destroys free speech,” according to Mobiledia.com. “The hackers also exposed the email and IP addresses of more than 30 FFA newsletter subscribers and donors and listed credit card information for a dozen more.”

As for Lowe’s, it’s still catching flak from various sources, including from one of its investors, Trillium Asset Management. Trillium, which prides itself on steering its wealthy clientele to ethically sound investments, wrote a letter to Lowe’s, which it posted on its website, expressing its concern over the pulling of the ads and the way the company handled the aftermath. “Lowe’s shrugging off of its responsibility not to yield in the face of bigotry ignores the societal consequences of perpetuating religious prejudices,” its response reads in part.

And on a lighter note, the controversy inspired a faux TV commercial (at top) imagining the Lowe’s spot that was pulled from “All-American Muslim.” It features two Muslim men shopping at the home-improvement center and scaring the bejesus out of a fellow shopper, looking for all the world like they are going to bomb something … when really they are simply buying some festive holiday lights.