Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images.
Kayak.com will follow Lowes's lead and stop advertising on TLC's All-American Muslim show, but the discount travel website says that its decision had nothing to do with the outcry from a small group of conservatives who have deemed the reality program nothing short of Islamic propaganda.
"Mostly, I just thought the show sucked," Robert Birge, Kayak's chief marketing officer, wrote on his company's corporate blog explaining the decision not to re-up when the show returns next month. "Based on our dealings with TLC and the simple assessment of the show, I decided we should put our money elsewhere."
In the post, Birge called the show -- which depicts a family of Muslim Americans as pretty much like anyone else in the country -- "a worthy topic" but said that he thought TLC "went out of their way to pick a fight on this, and they didn't let us know their intentions."
The show has sparked a debate over the portrayal of Muslims on television. The passionate but relatively small public backlash against the reality program began late last month when a conservative group, the Florida Family Association, began a letter writing campaign urging advertisers to yank their ads from the reality show. Lowes complied, saying that the show had clearly become "a lightning rod" for controversy, despite the fact that the complaints appeared to be mostly limited to the Florida Family Association, which has long fought against what it fears is an attempt by Islamic extremists to impose Sharia law on Americans.
Lowes's decision, in turn, sparked its own backlash and drew complaints from Americans who saw its advertising decision as nothing more than a bid to appease a fringe group who would oppose any positive -- or even neutral -- portrayal of Muslims. The show didn't appear to have earned the "controversial" tag in the eyes of most Americans until the cries of "propaganda" -- and then responses of "bigot" -- became national news.
Many see the show as a rather straightforward attempt to put the "Learning" back in TLC, with the instructive goal of showing Americans that Muslims in the U.S. aren't that different from everyone else. As Slate’s Amanda Marcotte has noted, that’s preaching to the choir for some, but a call to arms for others.