“All-American Muslim,” Lowe’s and Lessons of Living in a Democracy

COMMENTARY | Lowe’s, the home improvement giant, issued a statement in defense to pulling advertising from the TLC reality show “All-American Muslim.” This was met with considerable anger from various groups who shouted discrimination on the part of a major U.S. corporation.

Without fanfare and mudslinging, it’s my belief all sides should take a step back from this controversy, allowing common sense to prevail.

In American society, businesses have the right to advertise where they see opportunity for increased market share and positive brand awareness. Therefore, the decision made by Lowe’s to terminate its relationship with “All-American Muslim” constitutes a reflection of what the organization believes its shareholders would expect from responsible management. The company made a business decision to spend its marketing dollars elsewhere.

Nonetheless, Lowe’s has come under fire for a reasonable yet calculated attempt to protect its brand. In its assessment of “All-American Muslim”, Lowe’s utilized Facebook in noting that the show could be a “lightning rod” for “strong political and societal views.”

What’s most interesting are the comments NOT attributed to Lowe’s. Nowhere in their statement did Lowe’s condemn the show or make biased remarks regarding Muslims in the United States. In essence, Lowe’s is simply stating it will “take a pass” on a show its analysts are weary of.

Therefore, exactly where did the organization contribute to the ‘anti-Islam/Islamaphobia industry’ as suggested by petitioners utilizing Signon.org? Perhaps, more importantly, why do these petitioners believe it is their place to pressure companies such as Lowe’s to make organizational decisions that are paramount to protecting its image?

That doesn’t sound like capitalism or proper expectations of a democratic society.

Whether or not “All-American Muslim” would tarnish the Lowe’s brand is of little consequence. The question is why should that brand be expected to take on risk if its key stakeholders determine it’s not reasonable?

It is my belief the petition and condemnation of Lowe’s reeks of a certain political correctness that society should not tolerate. No religion or special interest organization should responsibly hold a trusted company hostage for acting its conscience and bearing consideration to its shareholders.

This case is that simple.

I am certain there will be arguments on both sides of this issue that will fill volumes with a combination of venom, fire, and brimstone. There will be anger and hatred. There will be an abundance of hyperbole and finger pointing. There will be those who will try to make this a “left” versus “right” debate. In the end, though, regardless of how hard each side would like to advance its agenda, the lesson is ultimately a very basic one — private enterprise plays by its own rules. It’s the rules of capitalism.

In my opinion, that’s exactly the way it’s supposed to be.

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