Boycotting the All-American Muslim


Tod Kelly

Tod is a writer from the Pacific Northwest. He is also serves as Executive Producer and host of both the 7 Deadly Sins Show at Portland's historic Mission Theatre and 7DS: Pants On Fire! at the White Eagle Hotel & Saloon. He is  a regular inactive for Marie Claire International and the Daily Beast, and is currently writing a book on the sudden rise of exorcisms in the United States. Follow him on Twitter.

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186 Responses

  1. Avatar dhex says:

    i’d like to say i’m surprised by this vitriol against what is by all reports a most boring, vanilla, almost orientalist “holy shit they eat food using forks just like you and me!” type of show, but i’m not. people are dinks.

    that said:

    For me, those pro-free market arguments that claim that corporations can be held in check by the consumer without government interference are tripped up a bit by the All-American Muslim boycott.

    well, they’re certainly being held in check sans gubmint in this particular case, no?Report

    • Avatar James Hanley says:

      well, they’re certainly being held in check sans gubmint in this particular case, no?

      Yeah, the problem isn’t that the market isn’t working; it’s that the market in this case is dominated by people with brains the size of chickpeas.Report

      • Avatar greginak says:

        ah HAAA don’t you know what they make out of chickpeas??? Hummus… thats what. So you are placing an ingredient to make a Muslim kind of food in the brains of the moron boycotters. Thats how insidious they are.Report

  2. Avatar James Hanley says:

    Track Town Pizza…mmmmmm.  The first place I ever ate in Eugene.

    Sorry, I know that’s not the point of your post, but you just took me back in time.  Was Pegasus Pizza in existence when you were in Eugene?  Did you imbibe at High Street?  Rennnies?  Were you ever flush enough to dine at the Oregon Electric Station?

    But, yes, boycotts… I guess I can’t take an absolute position on it.  If the show was promoting the idea that all Muslims were secret terrorists, I’d be supportive of the boycott, and I’m not so sure I would feel bad about sending the message that if someone has that opinion I don’t care if they can make a living; or certainly I want to constrain their ability to make a living on the basis of that point of view.

    So I don’t know that it’s fair to object to their tactics per se, but I certainly do object to their idiotic bigotry and think perhaps we ought to boycott the companies that quailed at the first hint of a boycott.  Too bad I just brought home a Christmas tree from Lowes.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

      Dude, I am so OK with you going in this direction!  I don’t remember Pegasus Pizza, but I dined a few times at OR Electric, and my last year there it sometimes felt like I lived at Rennies.

      To the point at hand,; I do find it odd that Lowes jumped ship because the show wasn’t bigoted enough.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        Pegasus was on the corner of 14th and Agate, a block from PLC (aka, the monument to Stalinist architecture), where I spent most of my time.  They made a great sun-dried tomato and feta pizza.  A little more Eugene-lefty in spirit than Tracktown, but easier to walk to from my office.

        Now I’m homesick, dude, even though I only lived there 6 years.


      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        I do find it odd that Lowes jumped ship because the show wasn’t bigoted enough.

        If you think that’s why Lowes jumped ship, you’re not thinking about it clearly. Or correctly.Report

        • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

          WOuld it be more correct to say that a group of people came to Lowe’s and said we won’t buy things from you unless you only support shows that portray Muslims in a [bigoted way]?  Assuming, of course, you replaced the words “bigoted way” with something like “as the animals those people are” or whatever.

          If so, it doesn’t seem less weird.

          Or were you thinking something else all together?Report

          • Avatar Stillwater says:

            They’re thinking of market share, yes. But the leverage the Righteous Protestors have isn’t ideological or religious or whatever: it’s that Lowes can’t win. If they lose customers by advertising on the show, they lose. If they take a stand on principle, they quite likely lose (by turning commerce into a poltical issue). If the walk away without a *bigger stink* emerging, they win (by cutting their losses).


          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            Is McDonald’s Halal?

            (To be fair to Lowe’s, in this case, it’s not that they’re advertising with sufficiently bigoted shows, it’s that they’re doing what most corporations do when faced with conflict: caving and keeping their heads down as low as they can.)Report

            • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

              I did not mean to suggest such was their strategy or even intention; just that such was the end result.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Well, let’s just say something like “the people behind the boycotts are moral idiots on this topic” and get that out of the way.

                The people behind the boycotts are moral idiots on this topic.

                Now, the interesting ideas for me are “what should I (RTod!) do in response?”

                There are a handful of things that make sense… first and foremost is calling the companies and telling them that you’re disappointed with what they’ve done.

                (Should you threaten a boycott of your own if they don’t get back to advertising? I don’t know… it seems to me that that would result in the next “All American Muslim”-type show, whatever it is, in pre-emptively not being advertised on. Bridget’s Widgets didn’t advertise on the show and nobody is flooding their customer service toll-free number with threats of a boycott due to advertising, after all.)

                The other thing you can do is find out who is still advertising on that show (maybe even watch it!) and patronize their business. If Wendy’s is still advertising on the show, buy yourself a double. Then call the hotline and say “I enjoyed the burger I ate at your restaurant and am pleased that you are still advertising on my favorite show: All American Muslim.”

                That one phone call will do a lot… it may even give the folks in Marketing the cover to act like moral agents instead of a corporation.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                I like this idea, and think that it might be worth the time to carry it out.  But for me, this is about more the AAMuslim.

                I have no problem with a person calling Lowe’s, for example, and saying – “Hey, I don’t like that you advertise on a show that makes Muslims look good.”  Or the opposite.

                I am less comfortable with this idea of creating mini-populist movements to punish people for believing differently than you.  (First off, because no one ever gets the facts right.  I remember when we had our first born, another mother admonished us for shopping at Borders because they were anti-breastfeeding.  They weren’t; my wife would sometimes feed our son while I browsed.)

                I would have the same reaction if someone asked me to boycott Coke for advertising some Michael Landon vehicle rerun, because didn’t I as an agnostic want to make sure people who weren’t agnostic were portrayed as villains or not at all on TV?Report

              • Avatar kenB says:

                But that’s not really a good analogy to how the boycotters in this case are feeling.  What if the show were, say, All-American Skinheads, presenting a non-racist skinhead family, and some anti-hate group was leading the boycott?  Would you have the same reaction?Report

              • Avatar Jeff says:


                What if the show were, say, All-American Skinheads, presenting a non-racist skinhead family, and some anti-hate group was leading the boycott?  Would you have the same reaction?

                I for one would have no problem with such a show, because I know about the SHARPs (SkinHeads Against Racial Prejudice).  In fact, I would applaud such a show, for showing that not all Skinheads are racists.Report

            • Avatar Lyle says:

              I would put it this way if advertising on a show means people boycott you, and picking a different show means no boycott, it only makes business sense to move the adds. Why offend folks when you don’t have to (assuming say identical demographics with the adds). Business will not speak if there is no reason do. Consider that the Koch’s business is such that there are no direct consumers involved so no boycott is possible.

              After all the whole point of putting adds on is to get eyeballs, there is no other purpose. You just search for programs with the proper demographics and pay by the ratings.Report

            • Avatar Murali says:

              In Singapore and Malaysia it is. Hamburgers are made of beef from  cows which have been slaughtered in the ritually appropriate ways.Report

  3. Avatar Rufus F. says:

    I’m not a big believer in boycotts. So far, my three decade plus personal boycott of the Lear Jet Company has made little impact.Report

  4. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    How inconvenient for the FFA that Muslims turn out to be really normal folk who look and act not much different than their own next door neighbors. How inconvenient that the people on the show do not eat babies or habitually denounce America. role of Muslims and Islam both globally and nationally is more complex than reducing them to frothing, rabid, scimitar-wielding monsters.

    Maybe there is a war on religion going on. TLC is taking their demons away. They must be stopped, even If that means boycotting a show so dull it would have gone away on its own in a few months anyway.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

      This is an excellent point, Burt.  To what extent did this boycott make the show visible in ways it never would have been otherwise?Report

      • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

        The worst-rated show on cable. Except Anderson Cooper, mebbe.

        I’m going to start the American Action Association.  The producers of a failing show pay me ten grand, I start a stink about them, and get them a million dollars of free publicity.Report

        • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

          I’m going to start the American Action Association.  The producers of a failing show pay me ten grand, I start a stink about them, and get them a million dollars of free publicity.

          That is brilliant.Report

    • Avatar Scott says:


      Shouldn’t you really say that the TV program only shows that some but not all Muslims are culturally integrated, normal folks?  Surely there are some Muslims that live here and that think the US sucks and that Sharia should be implemented or that they should be allowed to live in their own areas with their own religious laws?   If AAM only wants to show one segment of the population, fine, but don’t be surprised when folks call them on their one sided treatment of the subject.


      • What would be your opinion of a show called “American Christian” that declined to include a portrayal of the Phelps family?Report

        • Avatar Scott says:


          Incomplete for the same reasons. If your show was made, folks should know that nutters like the Phelps exist. I’m fairly certain the producers would try and get them on just for the shock value.

          A show that featured a wide variety of Muslim families would be much more accurate, interesting and more honest. I’ve read some criticisms of the show by Muslims for its narrow portrayal of the subject.Report

          • Scott, the name of the show isn’t “All American Muslims.”  It has no duty to be comprehensive, any more than any other of these generally execrable reality shows do.  Does anyone think that the reprobates on any of those cookie-cutter Bravo shows comprise a genuine, plenary reflection of the actual housewives of the various locations?  Of course not.

            Any viewer of reasonable intelligence and any exposure to contemporary television programming knows that shows of this ilk are not documentaries, and expecting this one reality show to encompass all possible kinds of Muslim family living in America is absurd.Report

            • Avatar Scott says:


              You are correct that the show does not have any duty to be comprehensive.  However, if they decide not to be comprehensive then someone like the FFA has every right to point that out and organize a boycott based on that fact.  Folks like Todd want to allow TLC to have a once sided show and make BS claims of racism when someone points that out and organizes a boycott.  If you are going to accuse folks of racism at least make sure that you are expressing your righteous indignation at something real.Report

              • Avatar BSK says:


                The accusations of racism are rooted in the fact that FFA is boycotting this non-comprehensive show exclusively, ignoring all other forms of similarly structured shows.  “Racism” is probably not the best criticism levied, as it incorrectly conflates ethnicity, race, and religion (though I doubt members of the FFA are nuanced enough to make the necessary distinction between those three unique-but-sometimes-overlapping aspects of identity).

                Is there room for a reasoned conversation about how comprehensive a portrayal of American Muslims the show provides?  Absolutely.  But is the FFA trying to do that?  Or are they attempting to promote biased and incorrect stereotypes about Muslims?  The conversation is a legitimate one  But FFA, through their boycott, is trying to stifle conversation as opposed to broaden it.Report

              • Avatar Scott says:


                “But FFA, through their boycott, is trying to stifle conversation as opposed to broaden it”.

                That’s funny, the FFA wants the show to look at all Muslims not just the hand picked culturally integrated ones the show chooses to feature, isn’t that the essence of broadening a conversation? Where are the non culturally integrated Muslims? Todd and the other lefties sound like Tracy Morgan saying everything is racist.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                Then the FFA should make their own bloody TV show.

                I haven’t gone back and reread it, but I am pretty sure I did not say that the FFA was racist.  But to boycott a show because it there is a character that is a normal day to day American citizen – because you feel like your rights are being infringed if they do not also have an equal number of real people that make that minority group look bad – is ludicrous.

                Seriously, Scott, if this were a liberal group doing the same to some conservative subgroup you’d be crying murder.Report

              • Avatar Scott says:


                You like boycotts for your own causes but don’t like them when other folks employ them for their own causes, how nice and hypocritical. You and the other folks have done everything but openly play the race card. This has nothing to with race but is instead about a show that concisely chooses to show only those culturally integrated Muslims and then got called on it.

                “Seriously, Scott, if this were a liberal group doing the same to some conservative subgroup you’d be crying murder.”

                You don’t know fish about me. Please don’t assume otherwise. Why don’t your read my earlier response to Mark and learn something about me?



              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                You like boycotts for your own causes but don’t like them when other folks employ them for their own causes, how nice and hypocritical.

                Dude, seriously – do you ever read a post of mine?

                The whole fishing post was about how I think boycotts today are terrible, both the ones from the left and the right.  I even made fun of the ones popular in my liberal college days.

                I like the voice you bring to these conversations, but you really need to read the actual posts.  It feels like all you ever do is read the headline, say to yourself “What would a liberal say about his?” and respond accordingly.  How many times to I have to tell you I’m not a lib?

                Sheesh.  Read the fishing post.Report

              • Avatar Jason R says:

                "Is there room for a reasoned conversation about how comprehensive a portrayal of American Muslims the show provides?  Absolutely.  But is the FFA trying to do that?  Or are they attempting to promote biased and incorrect stereotypes about Muslims?  The conversation is a legitimate one.  But FFA, through their boycott, is trying to stifle conversation as opposed to broaden it."


                That quote above, by BSK, and the points made by Tod, really nail this on the head and I applaud them taking a stance for what I believe is common sense.  It shouldn't take much intelligence to read between the lines and wake up and smell what the FFA is really motivated by. 

                1) There might be arguably SOME basis to the arguments against the show All-American Muslim, if it were the case that most American Muslims are radical zealots out to destroy America and impose Sharia, and only a minority of them are normal everyday Americans.  Can anyone prove this?  I don't think so... and I think the reality is quite the opposite.

                2) #1 is clearly not the case, and no one is talking about this.  How many Muslims are normal and how many are crazy?  Has anyone stopped to think about this for a minute?  We weren't born yesterday and Muslims have been in this country for a long time; look around you, your neighbors and co-workers that I'm sure you've run into.  What has your own experience told you about them?  Have you ever met a normal Muslim?  I've met many, and they consider themselves practicing Muslims.  I've also read and heard from the major American Muslim organizations and most of them condemn imposing relgion, violence, or sharia in America.  I've seen some stories that some of these American Muslim advocate groups have financial ties to shady overseas groups, but a lot of that is conjecture and in most cases its what they call "unindicted co-conspirators" but I have seen none of them promote that America become a sharia haven.  Have you met a crazy Muslim?  I haven't, but I've heard of them on TV and news.  I'm not questioning their existence-- the terrorist sympathizers, the would-be terrorists, the American born jihadi's we hear about...indeed, I'm very scared of them--don't get me wrong.

                3) I've seen many exposes in the media on these home grown terrorists, the secret cells, all about the scary Islamists.  We get these reports and specials all the time.  I'm scared and prepared, and I am ok with being reminded about that regularly if groups like FFA want to keep promoting those reports.

                4) But I've also seen many normal Muslims, I'm talking like 99% of them, being harassed and misunderstood.  They just want to raise their families with the same American values and ethics, and be American while also holding on to their religious beliefs which they hold private to themselves and don't wish to impose on anyone.  You can try as hard as you want to convince them that they want to kill infidels and impose their religion and sharia on everyone-- trust me, you can try, but they will all tell you no, that's not what they want.  They consider themselves American and just want to be known for who they are and not harassed or maligned.

                5) If the majority of Muslims as described in #4 have little or no other media coverage, but have managed to get themselves a TV show, then more power to them to do a little PR for themselves (they need it badly).

                6) It is fishy that the FFA who knows how much coverage there is scaring us about Islam and Muslims already, that they feel uncomfortable with one tv show here that shows a positive side to the majority of the American Muslim population.  To say that they have no problem with the show in principle but all they want is a more inclusive coverage is disingenuous.  I can almost guarantee you that if you take one of these FFA zealots and hold them to the fire, they will admit that they don't even want the so called comprehensive coverage.  All they want is for shows like this to be GONE off the face of the planet, as well as anything else that shows Muslims in a positive light.

                7) What if TLC were to put a disclaimer at the beginning of the program saying as a warning to the viewer, to be forewarned that Muslims may also be evil, and don't believe everything you see here?  Would that take care of this concern?  We could probably also put disclaimers like that on shows that show African Americans or Latino Americans or others trying to live normal lives.


              • Avatar BSK says:

                AAM adds to the conversation.  FFA wants AAM to go away because it counters there contribution to the conversation.  They do not want AAM to show the diversity of Muslim life in America.  They want it to go away entirely.  That is stifling dialogue; not encouraging it.

                Why is there such an insistence on showing the worst parts of the Muslim-American experience?  Do you demand the same of other faiths and groups?  If not, why?

                I think the primary objection is that people think AAM is giving a false representation of Muslims in America.  They might acknowledge that not ALL American Muslims are jihadi terrorist, but they seem to believe that the vast majority of them are.  And offering up a show like AAM with a title like AAM just boils there blood that anyone would suppose to offer anything different.  Unfortunately, the facts are not on their side.Report

  5. Avatar Stillwater says:

    I don’t have much to say here, other than this: there’s an old a recent adage: that the right takes it’s cues from the successful practices of the left. The left has been incredibly successful (all things considered) in the US by using a bunch of organically emerging tactics: civil disobedience, protests, grass roots movements, boycotts, etc. The right then sees not only the success of these practices, but that those tactics can be employed by the right, with very nuanced permutations, to achieve conservative social change (or social stagnation/retrogration, as the case may be) outside the strictly political arena.

    (Really Tod, you need to read The Reactionary Mind to get a grip on the liberal/conservative political dynamic. If you haven’t read it and you aren’t already a liberal, you just won’t understand what’s in play here.)



    • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

      This sounds exactly right.  One of the things I’ve been complaining about for a few years (I think it might have been my fist comment ever here, in fact, to Mark) is that social conservative Republicans have taken a page out of the liberal’s book by always playing the victim card.  Which is a shame, since their refusal to play it used to be one of their best qualities, imho.

      I will now seek out The Reactionary Mind. Thanks, Still.Report

  6. Avatar Creon Critic says:

    Guidestar will get you information on nonprofits including FFA. If you don’t want to to register, find usernames and passwords at BugMeNot. Not sure if this will work as I intend, but FFA’s 990 through this online pdf viewer.Report

  7. Avatar Ann says:

    We should all go here and sign this petition. It had 72 signatures this morning when I added mine, but now has more than 2,000! Let’s make our voices heard and show these bigots they are not the majority.


  8. Avatar David Ryan says:

    T R A C K T O W N  P I Z Z A ! ! !Report

  9. Here’s the crazy part- in the labor union context, that first type of boycott, the type you (and I, for that matter) actually understand, is illegal (and somehow an exception to the First Amendment).

    Not saying that this idiotic type of boycott should be illegal, just shoehorning in another opportunity to point out just how offensive libertarians should find Taft-Hartley.Report

  10. I’ve long thought Muslims need their own Charlie Chan. The FFA seems to hold the exact opposite opinion.

    Sure, most terrorists may be Muslims, and Islamic civilization definitely leads the world in violent crazy (Japanese civilization leads the world in non-violent crazy, according to Encyclopedia Dramatica, but watching Maury Povich suggests white people hold both those titles), but terrorists don’t really exist, do they? I don’t mean to be callous, but does anyone here know anyone who knows anyone who knows anyone who was killed by a terrorist on any day other than September 11, 2001?Report

  11. Avatar J. Otto Pohl says:

    I am against most boycotts, particularly ones like this that are aimed at suppressing the dissemination of ideas. That is the claims of “promoting Islam.” What ever that might be. It appears to be defined as not completely demonizing normal American Muslims. But, I am most definitely in favor of boycotting apartheid Israel. There is little question that Israel is in violation of the 1973 UN Convention outlawing apartheid as an international crime against humanity.Report

  12. Avatar Matty says:

    I’m not sure about including South Africa boycotts in here. Surely actually funding apartheid is closer to your example about illegaly low wages than to trying to drive people out of business for political views.Report

  13. I remember when the Southern Baptists decided to boycott Disney for its alleged promotion of homosexuality.  I was attending a Southern Baptist church at the time, and also in the process of coming out of the closet.  Guess which influence won out?

    I suspect, with a heavy heart, that the sort of person who would be inclined to support an FFA-style boycott is 1) not a regular League reader, and 2) resistant to well-reasoned calls to decency such as this one.Report

  14. Avatar Rufus F. says:

    I think I probably got added to a few mailing lists via my other blog, but I’ve also been getting these email alerts for the last few years from a different group that is deeply worried about the threats posed by Muslims, radical college professors, the Occupy movement, George Soros, Hollywood, and a few dozen other threatening things. Aside from being lazy, I think part of the reason I haven’t cancelled them is out of a certain fascination with the rhetorical style. The emails almost always begin, for example, with an appeal to the America we know and love, followed by a warning that we are at a moment (or crossroads) in which that America could be lost forever unless we act now! Usually acting involves taking part in a boycott such as this, or, far more often, sending them money. My sense is that most of these groups amount to The Foundation to Promote the Funding of this Foundation. I’ve joked before that the last people in America who will ever acknowledge the decline of patriarchal norms in the country are all in NOW. Not a lot of organizations will cop to their own irrelevance. Especially when it’s fundraising time.Report

  15. Avatar Tod Kelly says:

    A quick note here to collectively answer a number of commenters who are pushing back on my disappointment/surprise with Lowe’s and others.  Perhaps I need to clarify…

    I am not disappointed or surprised that Lowe’s is deciding to take a “dollars-first” approach to their advertising budget.  Not only do I think they have a right to do this. I think they have a fiduciary responsibility toward their shareholders and employees to do so.  However, I think of boycotting causes to be along a spectrum of “silly to obvious.”  So, for example, on the obvious end you might have a news report that McDonalds saves money by buying cattle that are not properly checked for mad cow, and you might let McDonalds know that you will not be purchasing their product again until they correct this.  On the far other end you might have someone that thinks that Campbell’s Soup is a CIA plot to control your mind, and let them know you’re on to them.

    Most boycotts, of course, fall somewhere between these two ends.  I would argue that a boycott against a TV show that had an interracial couple – because it had an interracial couple – farther toward the silly end.  And in my opinion, the All-American Muslim boycott is pretty close to the one I made up just there.

    So it isn’t surprising that all of these companies caved to a boycott; it’s surprising that they caved to THIS boycott.  I would venture that Burt’s observations were correct; no one was going to know this show existed, and no one was ever going to be aware the this penny-ante group of rubes was staging a boycott.  I can’t understand why these companies didn’t just ignore the FFA.  Now they are in the news, and other larger groups are talking boycotts because they caved, and they come across as looking very bad.  In attempting to avoid controversy they have created a mini-PR nightmare out of whole cloth.

    It wasn’t just a morally suspect decision on their parts.  It was a bad, stupid business decision.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman says:

      I’m mentally working on a follow-up post on this for NaPP. In case I don’t get around to it, I think the “bad business decision” line of attack is absolutely right. I think it was a miscalculation. From a moral standpoint, it’s trickier. And depressing.Report

    • Avatar Caleb says:

      “For me, those pro-free market arguments that claim that corporations can be held in check by the consumer without government interference are tripped up a bit by the All-American Muslim boycott. This seems like a perfect example of how huge corporations can be swayed into outright and destructive bigotry by a small minority of fringe-dwellers.”

      “In attempting to avoid controversy they have created a mini-PR nightmare out of whole cloth.”

      I fail to see how these two assertions are not contradictory. In the first, you seem to be asserting that there is no corrective non-governmental market mechanism for when corporations submit to bigotry. In the second, you identify a nongovernmental market mechanism that is punishing these corporations for submitting to bigotry.

      Am I missing something?Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

        In my mind, yes.  For starters, I suspect that you think I’m making an argument of “government interference” over “the invisible hand.”  I’m  not; I’m instead pointing out why when free-marketers tell me that social injustices will be eliminated once we get rid of government interference I am skeptical.

        Past that, I say that my point stands.  In this example, you have a case where the good guys will – I believe – prevail.  But the show will still, ultimately, be cancelled – regardless of its quality.  The lesson these corporations learn will not, I believe, be to stand firmer about shows that portray Muslims in a positive light – it will be not to ever advertise on them in the first place.  The difference between the government and corporations in this instance which for me works in government’s favor is that we’ll  never know what decisions are made by Lowe’s after this incident; further, we literally have no right to know.Report

        • Avatar Caleb says:

          I see. Your point is a bit broader than how I first read your argument. I understood you to be saying that this incident specifically illustrated the lack of  a viable non-governmental social corrective mechanism. My apologies, I will address your broader argument:

          I submit that the assertion: “free-marketers tell me that social injustices will be eliminated once we get rid of government interference” is a bit of a strawman. If anyone tells you that X will eliminate social injustices, where X is any single intelligible policy, you should be skeptical. Social injustice is an intractable problem deeply tied to the fundamental flaws of human nature. It may be ameliorated, certainly. But not completely, and not without cost. Likewise, free market mechanisms are not flawless, and come with their own cost/benefit trade-offs. Serious adherents to the ideology will submit to both propositions.

          You likely have more knowledge than me on the issue. However, lacking any data directly on point, it is not immediately obvious to me that the program will be cancelled (at least, resulting from this incident.) As previously established, the controversy has garnered extensive attention outside the program’s original demographic viewer boundaries. I do not know the number of persons exposed to the program who otherwise would remain ignorant to its existence, but I’m willing to wager that it is significant. Controversy generates attention, and attention is the lifeblood of television programs. Even negative public attention has sustained certain programs well past their potential lifespan in the absence thereof. In the mind of most potential viewers, this program is on the right side of the controversey. This can only help.

          Likewise, it is not immediately obvious to me that all corporations who advertise on television programs like this one will avoid similar programs in the future. Corporations such as Lowe’s might do so; figuring that the potential controversy is not worth the potential revenue. But not all corporations are the same. Due to the nature of broadcast entertainment, different programs have different audiences with different preferences. These preferences are often correlated with differences in consumption patterns. There are, most likely, corporations whose target market correlates well with the audience of the program, and largely excludes a significant percentage of its bigoted detractors. Such a corporation would not care what the FFA thinks, because its members do not affect its revenue stream.

          In addition, advertising space, like all scarce goods, is competitive. If the program maintains and holds a relativity high viewership rating (helped, in part, by the controversy), then it is an asset that, at some price, will sell. The reduction in number of potential buyers might drive the price below what the producers find sustainable. But it might not. Even if it does, this does not spell certain death for a similar programs. I take it your original argument was premised on the assumption that this program and ones like it have enough public interest to sustain themselves through popular appeal in the absence of untoward boycotts like FFA’s. If this is the case, then their sustainability is simply a matter of avoiding advertisers who are susceptible to their influence.

          Last, it will be quite obvious what decisions are made by Lowe’s in this matter. If they continue to advertise on AAM and like programs, this will denote one decision. If they do not, it will signal another. Any behavior in between will likely reveal a pattern after even casual observation. I fail to see how the inner workings of a corporation’s decision process is material to determining its outcome when the outcome is readily apparent.Report

          • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

            Caleb –  This is an excellent reply, and one that is worthy of me taking the time to reply – even if it’s just to say “+1.”  It’s a busy morning at work, so I hope you’re cool if I try to track back to this later.Report

  16. Avatar RTod says:

    BTW, what the fish is up with the site this weekend? It takes several minutes to upload a page. Is this a correctable thing? It’s this way with all of our computers & devices.Report

  17. Avatar Pyre says:

    I haven’t read all of the comments so I apologize in advance if this has been said/addressed.

    Back when Foamy the Squirrel was watchable, he pointed this out with the whole Don Imus thing.  He wasn’t defending Don Imus so much as he was pointing out the dangers of sponsored language and that, if you depend on sponsors whether by direct contract or indirect support, you have freedom of speech only so long as your speech lines up with what your sponsors like.  Once it doesn’t, they can and will drop you like a rock.

    The problem then becomes: Which are silly and which aren’t?  I have heard things far more offensive on the radio than Don Imus calling a black women’s basketball team “nappy-headed hoes” (and later apologizing for it).  Having not seen the All-American Muslim, I can’t argue whether it does portray an unrealisticly sanitized version of a Muslim family or not.  (I’m reminded of what one of the cast members of the very first Real World show later said about how they were portrayed on the show and how what was shown wasn’t really representative of how they really acted.)  The question becomes, if the whole Don Imus boycott were happening today, would you also write how much you hate boycotts or would you be one of those who said that he is getting what he deserves?Report

    • I can’t speak for RTod, but as one who fully agrees with him here, I can honestly say that on the Imus thing, I was also talking about how I hated boycotts.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      The eventual outcome of this sort of thing will be a tendency towards inoffensive mush where even “edgy” shows will push the limit about as much as 2 and a Half Men.

      Nothing that would ever be boycotted from the right. Nothing that would ever be boycotted from the left. The entertainment equivalent of Mac&Cheese.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

      Pyre –

      I think I would have to have two separate responses to this (excellent) point.

      1.  Regarding what I would say about Imus, I stand firm with both Mark and my OP.  I can get behind a boycott that asks a company to reverse a practice that potentially harms the community. (An example might be a few years ago, when families stopped buying Happy Meals until McDonalds addressed the issues of potential lead poisoning that came with buying cheap toys from China).  I do not stand behind any organized boycott that looks to punish people for having ideas that are different from our own.  (I emphasize “organized” and “punish;” if you don’t care to listen to Imus because what he says is offensive to you, knock yourself out.)

      2. There is, however, a separate issue in this case that I found fascinating: predictability.  When I heard about advertisers pulling out of Imus because of the “nappy headed hoes” I didn’t necessarily agree with it, but when I heard about it I thought it was pretty predictable.  I feel the opposite way about AAM, however.  That was surprising because I would think the advertisers would want to be associated with the message (as I understand it) behind the show.Report

      • Avatar Pyre says:

        It is kinda surprising.  One would not think that the FFA represents enough purchasing power to counterbalance sponsors wanting to be known as “Muslim-Friendly”.  Without going into a long dissertation on how businesses make their decisions, purchasing power talks.

        I can only think of two things that would make sense.

        1) They decided to hedge their bets on the basis that noone would notice if they did pull their support.  Since I don’t watch TV, I can’t tell you how popular a show this is but I’m guessing from the original post that it isn’t that widespread.  This is not as silly as it sounds.  Most people who eat at Chick-Fil-A (including myself) don’t know or care about what “family values” groups Chick-Fil-A supports.

        2) They made the decision by deciding that the FFA represents enough white Christians people that it is more profitable to pull the sponsorships than retain them regardless of fallout.  Oddly, one would think that this would be more insulting to white Christians people to lump them all in with the FFA.Report

        • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

          Or they just make a quick, knee jerk reaction without thinking it through.  Not to be all me-centered, but I went so far as to post this morning what I thought they should have done with the boycott if they felt it couldn’t be ignored.  (And I would emphasize that I think my fake press release is what they should have done for business reasons, not political or moral ones.)Report

          • Avatar Pyre says:

            I actually rather liked that post except for the notion that they would (given that the FFA seems to scare them enough to cave to a boycott) slam the door on a single dollar coming from the FFA .

            Then again, my press releases would read like EA’s public tech support answers for the PSP version of Madden 06 so anything that takes a softer tone than me looks good.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater says:

      I’d say the distinction between the two goes like this: Don Imus was boycotted because he actively made racist statements. AAM is being boycotted because it’s passively making what the FFA thinks are racist statements.

      What constitutes racism here, and who gets to decide, and what types of arguments are employed is certainly central how one views the two things. But even on a trivial level, failing to present Muslims in a negative light isn’t the same thing as actually presenting African Americans in a negative light.

      Along those lines, if I created a show called ‘All American Christian Families’, would I have to include scenes where minister/father/husbands trade meth for gay sex? If I didn’t, would people have a justifiable complaint against me for presenting a sanitized version of Christian Families?Report

      • Avatar greginak says:

        Don’t you mean the FFA is upset the show isn’t backing up their racist beliefs. Thats what you say in the second paragraph, which seems to be the issue.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          Arguing that anti-Muslim bigotry is racism will probably do more to play into the hands of the FFA than not, it seems to me.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater says:

            Yuh, that’s right. From the FFA’s pov, they’re not promoting racist beliefs: they’re promoting The Truth, which liberal media-types are trying to suppress. That is, if we attribute any coherence to them whatsoever, it’s something like this: They think the show is deliberately trying to present a false picture of muslims based on ‘liberal’ racial and religious stereotypes.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird says:

              There were folks who felt that “Sister Wives” should have addressed more of the Warren Jeffs’ kinda issues and engaged in less whitewashing of the whole polygamy thing.

              I bet they’re now wishing that they boycotted the advertisers.Report

          • Avatar greginak says:

            uh yeah parsing the diff between racism and anti-Muslim bigotry seems like a useful and fruitful distinction. I have offended anti-Muslim bigots with my suggestion they are racists. Again a liberal like me is keeping the white man down.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird says:

              As well intentioned as your “they’re the same” happens to be, I’d like to point out, once again, it does more to play into the hands of those you are arguing against than help you.

              If that is of little interest to you, then that is of little interest to you.Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                I wasn’t exactly thinking my brief two sentence comment was going to have a major impact on the debate.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                If what you were shooting for was to make yourself feel better about your moral standing in relation to them, allow me to help.

                You are much better than they are, Greg.Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                But i’m still not as good as you are Jay for policing my potentially overly broad use of the word racism for anti-Muslim bigotry.Report

              • Avatar Pyre says:

                Y’know, if you two need a hotel room……..Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Ah, Greg. Please just assume that I am Evil Jaybird if it makes you feel better.

                My take is that these arguments *ARE* important, even on the much smaller scale of “merely on the LOOG blog” because memes get born and propagated from little minds such as our own. If you give an argument that many people might give, I can respond to your argument with an argument that, if it’s good enough, will get used elsewhere. If it does well in that new place, maybe someone will pick it up from thence and keep it going. Thus the memes will battle and the fittest memes will win.

                It seems to me that your goal should optimally be to have the memes that you think will result in a better culture/society/world stand up against the memes that will make it worse off.

                Of course, if it ain’t, it ain’t.

                Now, for my take, I see the All American Muslim show as something that could very easily plant seeds of change in Muslim culture overseas (in the same way that many American movies planted seeds in the Soviet Union during the 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s). Imagine people in Syria talking about the show and saying something to the effect of “Is that what Muslims in America really live like???”

                Since I want that, I’ve been arguing for arguments that would result in more people watching the show, supporting the advertisers that remain with the show, and getting people to bug the former sponsors to once again become present sponsors.

                What are you arguing for? Us to all agree that the FFA is racist?Report

      • Avatar Pyre says:

        First, Don Imus’ comments were him trying to be funny as opposed to him trying to push racism.  As was also correctly pointed out at the time (and, ironically, it led to the most self-examination that the rap industry had in over a decade about the message they put out.), the rap industry was saying far worse about blacks with a far larger audience and they weren’t being boycotted.

        So I’d argue the intent is important and I would say that, whatever Don Imus’ personal feelings on race are, he meant it as a joke in the same “shock jock” manner that he approached everything as opposed to him pushing racism.  You could look at Hollywood’s romantic comedies for the past twenty years and make a pretty good case for misandry but I’m not sure that you could really argue that Hollywood is trying to push a man-hating agenda.

        As for the second part, it depends on how sanitized the version was.  To use your example, if the show was entitled “All-American Catholic” with the sanitized version of a Catholic family and it came out during the period of time that the Catholic Church was being investigated for sexually abusing altar boys, would you find it justifiable if people complained about that show?  If there was a boycott by people claiming that it was trying to put a spin on things and this somehow got traction in the corporate world to the point of sponsors pulling their support, would you argue against that boycott?Report

  18. Avatar BlaiseP says:

    Muslims have been in America for centuries. Once, Islam was an exotic and fascinating thing: organizations such as the Shriners incorporated many Islamic aspects into their organization, though they’re not really Muslims. They’re really Freemasons.

    Anti-Muslim bigotry goes back a long way, too. Jefferson and Franklin both use Islam as an example of religions they would tolerate: this while Muslims were enslaving American sailors. Franklin writes a hilarious bit of satire,

    I have heard it suggested, that [the Christian slaves] may be planted in the Wilderness, where there is plenty of Land for them to subsist on, and where they may flourish as a free State; but they are, I doubt, to little dispos’d to labour without Compulsion, as well as too ignorant to establish a good government, and the wild Arabs would soon molest and destroy or again enslave them. While serving us, we take care to provide them with every thing, and they are treated with Humanity. The Labourers in their own Country are, as I am well informed, worse fed, lodged, and cloathed. The Condition of most of them is therefore already mended, and requires no further Improvement. Here their Lives are in Safety. They are not liable to be impress’d for Soldiers, and forc’d to cut one another’s Christian throats, as in the Wars of their own Countries. If some of the religious mad Bigots, who now teaze us with their silly Petitions, have in a Fit of blind Zeal freed their Slaves, it was not Generosity, it was not Humanity, that mov’d them to the Action; it was from the conscious Burthen of a Load of Sins, and Hope, from the supposed Merits of so good a Work, to be excus’d Damnation.

    Muslims in America are as diverse as the societies which gave rise to them. I’ve worked with many different groups of refugees, Hmong, Vietnamese, Serbs, Croats — but the worst were Somali refugees. They’re horribly difficult people, the ones I’ve dealt with in Illinois. They’re not much on putting their children in school. They try to marry off their little girls to older men. They’re violent, especially to their women. They’ve caused trouble defacing the mosques of other Muslim sects. But I’ve worked with other Muslim refugees from Bosnia, they’re completely different people.

    Islam isn’t the problem. The individual people are the problem.

    As others have noted, what would we be saying if someone tried to put up a show called “All-American Christian” we’d never hear the end of it. What defines a Christian? As Franklin observed above, we’re constantly being set at each others’ throats. Is a Mormon a Christian? They say they are.

    I have troubles with the notion of “All-American Muslim” on its face. It condescends to Muslims. The greatness of America arises from how we have all come to define America, simply by being American. We are from everywhere. To criticize “American” culture is to criticize literally everyone: we’re from every tribe and nation, all trying to work out what “American” means. Read Whitman:

    Centre of equal daughters, equal sons,
    All, all alike endear’d, grown, ungrown, young or old,
    Strong, ample, fair, enduring, capable, rich,
    Perennial with the Earth, with Freedom, Law and Love,
    A grand, sane, towering, seated Mother,
    Chair’d in the adamant of Time.

    I am no fan of boycotts, either. This unhelpful little group, Florida Family Association, should learn a bit more about Shari’a Law before they criticize it. as-Shari’a is about as relevant in Muslim society as the Magna Carta is to us in present times. Shari’a law is every bit as relevant to legal theory: a few barons insisting the King is not above the law and Muhammad declaring the equality of all men just might have something in common. What’s important is what became of both systems. The perversity of the complaints about as-Shari’a resolve to this simple truth: those who attack Shari’a Law advocate for a return to an equally-unjust theory of jurisprudence in America’s past.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

      Excellent additional background, per usual, BP.Report

    • Avatar Dr. Werner von Braun says:

      Dammit Blaise, will you come back here once and for all! I’ll gladly pay you for my German lessons. You’re missed, sorely missed. What’s more, with you gone, I have no musical kindred spirits. We need to analyze, “Der Winterreise” and Bach’s 48. Bach’s 48 are starting to resemble the atom smashing going on–a recent collision at the Large Hadron Collider delivered a luminosity equal to a billion suns! Quick question: is infinity both inward and outward? Hope all is well. Tschuss mein Freund.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        you should check out love solfege. They don’t sing in german too often, but they seem to use everything else under the sun. (not that they’re comprehensible, but they’re trying… and how do you sing french in a spanish accent, when you learned from a German teacher??? and are Japanese?)Report

    • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

      Well actually, Blaise, you bagged on Somalis as a group and spared the Bosnians, then wrote “individual people are the problem.”  Well, yes and no. Surely there are enlightened Somalians and assholy Bosnians, but you seem to be playing oddsmaker here anyway.

      I enjoyed the Franklin parody very much, as those were the actual arguments of slaveholders, that the Africans were better off in bondage in America than a worse fate back in Africa.  But he was quite wrong about repatriation: the freed Americo-Liberians were quite able to start a government upon their return to Africa: a tyrannical one!:

      A national holiday in Liberia, Pioneers Day is controversial because of the historically tense relationship between the so-called “Congoes” (Americo-Liberians, who are 2.5 – 5 percent of Liberia’s total population of 3.5 million) and “country people” (indigenous Liberians). The Americo-Liberian elite’s historical faults are sizeable: denying citizenship to indigenous Liberians until 1904, denying full voting rights until well into the 20th century; one-party oligarchic rule for 133 years; lack of property rights, and forced labor which prompted a League of Nations investigation; and poor leadership focused more on nepotism and kleptocracy than producing wealth to develop the country.”

      I do love history so.  There’s always something interesting on the next page that changes everything.

      As for sharia, I suppose we’ll see what it means to the Egyptians.

      I’ve been withholding pronouncements on the issue until we see the rubber meet the road over there.  As for sharia in America, I’m not entirely sanguine that “it can’t happen here,” since it has popped up in our sister countries of Canada and the UK.  Egypt should be informative.

      Even at their most reasonable, ecclesiastical courts in parallel to our civil system should be anathema not only to Christians, but to secularists as well.  Hell, even the Puritans left them home in Europe.



      • Avatar BlaiseP says:

        I did say the Somalis were a problem, not because they were Muslims but because our group gets called in when there’s a problem in the refugee homes we’re working with, and having to resort to the authorities when we uncovered an old hag attempting to sell off her granddaughter.   Now if you don’t have a problem with that, feel free.   My evidence is strictly anecdotal.   The Bosnians had their own problems but they weren’t the same.    After a few dozen Somalis, yeah, I’m the one making the odds and you’re the one sneering, having never been called in to deal with the fallout of domestic violence cases.   Get over it.

        For all the talk bandied about in American history about the plight of the freed slaves,  we tend to forget the world they left.   As bad as it was for the slaves in the USA, and there’s no underestimating the horrors, they were ten times worse in Africa, where they were harvested.   The west coast of Africa sank into a Max Max dystopia, everything for roughly 300 km inland became an indescribable nightmare, shades of which we see in places like Sierra Leone today.   The Europeans would literally trade rifles, chains and coffles for slaves, directly, so they could help the slavers extend their operations.    Villages were depopulated, the Oyo Empire fell, the Fulani and Tuareg realized how profitable the slave trade could be and went through West Africa.   There is something worse than a Hobbesian State.   It’s West Africa from about 1700 to 1860.   Nothing even comes close, unless you consider the Aztec predations on their neighbours.

        When Liberia was founded, it was completely unable to defend itself from the claims of the French and British.   The repatriated slaves might as well have been Americans:  they couldn’t speak the local languages and to make matters worse, everyone was crowding down to the coast, now that every vestige of meaningful authority had vanished and been gone for over a century.   Liberia was a pitiful thing.   As for all that crap about how the freed slaves didn’t integrate the Kru into their society, the Kru had been under assault for two centuries and weren’t about to let those ex-slaves have anything.   I repeat myself in saying there is something worse than the Hobbesian State.   It’s West Africa, then and now.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        The mafia is still the mafia. Meh.Report

  19. Avatar greginak says:

    @Jay- I agree the memes we create are important. My original comment was not something i deeply thought about. I think its important to discuss issues like racism and bigotry. I’ve said before that i think people to quickly throw out the R word. I also believe people seem to think unless someone is wearing a KKK hood and actively lynching a black person they can’t be racist. I don’t know squat about the FFA accept for this issue. I think arguing for a hostile negative view of group and trying to squelch a positive view is certainly getting in the neighborhood of racism. And if somehow the distinction between racism anti-Muslim bigotry is key to this debate then i don’t there is much point at all.

    I would hope AAM would do more for Muslims in general then it didn’t for the Kardashians.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      I also think that it’s important to discuss issues like racism and bigotry.

      I also think that conflating the two plays into the hands of the racists and/or bigots rather than into the hands of those who oppose such things.

      Given that I oppose such things, I think it’s important to not conflate them.Report

      • Avatar greginak says:

        I’m thinking people who would tend to subscribe to the beliefs or be sympathetic to the FFM don’t really care about the distinction so trying to open that discussion is pointless.

        What do you see as the distinction between racism and bigotry?Report

        • Avatar Stillwater says:

          See, that’s a good question. Being excessively pedantic is it’s own form of bigotry, it seems to me.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          I think that there are people who may be more than happy and/or willing to have a discussion over the wisdom of the boycott who would just up and leave the second that they were accused of being racist for stating that they had issues with various cultural questions that they feel were not being addressed by the show.

          That is to say: There are people who are potential converts that would not be the moment that they hear that the reason they hold the positions that they hold are related to how racist they are.

          What do you see as the distinction between racism and bigotry?

          Racism is primarily concerned with race while bigotry is concerned with other stuff. For example, if I wanted to start talking about all of the hillbillies snorting oxycontin and shooting meth and what else would you expect from ill-educated johnny reb wannabes, it would not make sense to have someone say “man, that’s racist” in response.

          It would, however, make sense to say “that’s really bigoted”.

          The problem that people have with All-American Muslim is that significant cultural issues that they have with Islam are not being addressed. It’s not because these people are Arab-American but because they are Muslim.

          If the show was about “Coptic Christians (from the exact same part of the world) moving to an Oversexed and Wildly Secular society” and showing them engaging in their cultural acts and how weird this new world is… do you think that the FFA would be up in arms?

          I don’t think that the FFA would even notice.

          As such, I see that the issue is not that they have a particular color of skin from a particular part of the world nor that they have customs that are alien to the average Floridan viewer.

          It’s that the religion in question is Islam. Islam is not a race. Irrational opposition to the belief system is not racism.

          It’s bigotry.Report

          • Avatar greginak says:

            In as much as using the R word would turn “potential converts” away the B word isn’t going to bring them in either. There may be a P in pendentry but there isn’t a P in tolerance.

            While racism may refer to race, the entire concept of different races is pretty damn vague and has little support in biology. While i don’t disagree with your distinction i think racism also had a element of power over a lesser group where bigotry doesn’t have that.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird says:

              I do think that explaining that Muslim-Americans are just as American as the Jains, the Zoroastrians, the FLDS, and those idiots on Jersey Shore would bear more fruit than coming out of the gate with saying that those behind the boycotts are bigots, yes. Calling them bigots is a lot more likely to be accurate, however, than assuming that their opposition is based on race. I don’t think it is. I think it’s based entirely on cultural differences.

              While i don’t disagree with your distinction i think racism also had a element of power over a lesser group where bigotry doesn’t have that.

              Sexism also has a great deal of disparate power dynamics… but to call the opposition to All American Muslim “sexism” would be inaccurate to the point where it would do a disservice to whatever goal one would be hoping for.Report

          • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

            JB, I see “rational” opposition to Xtianity at the LoOG often.  By yr lights, is that bigotry too?

            Irrational opposition to the belief system is not racism. It’s bigotry.

            Surely a rational opposition to the Muslim belief system is possible as well, no?  Just asking for a clarification here.

            I’ll do the de rigeur tap-dance here and totally disavow the FFA boycott, for any and all reasons.  But I can put their objection into rational and empirical terms, even if they cannot.  First let’s stipulate for discussion that all religions are equally false.  However, the argument is that the influx of Muslims has been a net negative for the Western World, see Europe.  Not individual Muslims mind you, but Muslim culture, which often [even in the case of All American Muslims] sets up as a parallel culture, not an integrated one.  And indeed, the UK has set up Islamic ecclesiastical courts, outside the civil law.


            Further, that the Christian culture [see Locke] is the origin of religious tolerance, a tolerance that doesn’t swing both ways in many Muslim-dominated countries.  Therefore, an increased Islamization of the West is undesirable, and the All American Muslims program glosses over all this, and amounts to no more than cultural propaganda, that Islam is more like the Kiwanis Club, with different headgear.

            This is beyond all theological “truth claims,” which we may brand as inherently “irrational,” since all religions are equally false [delusional!].

            Again, just looking for clarification here.  Objections against multiculturalism are routinely branded as racism, or at least bigotry.  But there are rational, even empirical arguments to be made against it, and where in America is it proper to make them?Report

            • Avatar Jaybird says:

              JB, I see “rational” opposition to Xtianity at the LoOG often.  By yr lights, is that bigotry too?

              To the best that I can tell, the vast majority of the opposition to Christianity that we see here at the League has been born in direct experience with Christians. I have a number of stories (true ones!) that I could tell you about my time at Focus on the Family in the mid-90’s.

              (My time spent there was unpleasant, for the record.)

              Now, I have stories that, were I to tell them, would probably come across as airing dirty laundry.

              Is this bigotry on my part?

              Well… it depends, it seems to me. Am I arguing that “all Christians are like this”? If so, that seems to me that it would be a classic example of bigotry.

              If, however, I’m arguing about modern overly-political Evangelicals who put waaaaay too much emphasis on how Jesus told the woman caught in adultery to go and sin no more… I think that I could easily get away with saying “I’m making a reasonable, non-bigoted, argument here.”

              It’s the same with arguing against Islam. I certainly think that Middle-Eastern culture has a lot of spectacularly toxic puddles that would benefit from, for lack of a better term, Enlightenment Culture. If Islam is telling people to not use their left hands? That’s more or less harmless. If Islam is telling people to not allow women to learn to read? That’s more or less vile.

              The Islam being displayed in this television show, however, isn’t the vile kind. It’s the EPCOT version of Islam. It’s the kind of Islam we *WANT* exported the the rest of the world. An Americanized and Enlightened Islam… one where girls can read, boys can play football, dad agonizes over whether or not the family can get a dog (IT MUST STAY AND SLEEP OUTSIDE!), and mom is the glue that holds everything together. It’s Leave it to Beaver with an Azan every morning at O-dark.

              This is the Islam we want European Muslims embracing.Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                Since i don’t watch reality tv ( because i am better then people who do) and the TLC website didn’t have the info, where are the AAM’s families originally from? Anybody know? They have Arab sounding names.

                The distinction between how Arab’s practice Islam and Islam in other places has been noted by many actual Muslims.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Greg, I have never watched a single episode of AAM. However, I bet you $20 (donated to one of the charities of your choice):

                The family is portrayed lovingly. Cultural differences are shown with wide-eyed bemusement. The dad is shown as tough but fair (and also wrapped around the finger of his female family members).

                Before I ask how I did, I’d wonder if you’d take that bet.Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                I have no doubt you are correct. My question was simply based on curiosity. I was just wondering, thats all. I didn’t actually mean to post it in this particular discussion, but in the main post thread.


              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                I agree with you completely on the substance here re America, JB, at least in the abstract.  I was putting the anti-multiculti argument into rational terms, however, at arm’s length as a more formal argument. Per my little discussion with Sam and somewhat with James, the converse is that a wrong argument may still be entirely rational.

                Visiting the racism and bigotry angle.

                I’ve been monitoring Deerborn, to see where it goes—whether it’s an assimilation or a culture-within-our-culture. [There was a photo of Deerbornians celebrating bin Laden’s whacking; OTOH the crowd looked rather sparse.]

                America also has a lack of critical mass of Muslims: in Europe, Muslim enclaves have expanded into “no-go” zones and legally binding religious courts.  Angela Merkel, no easily dismissed far-right Haider or le Pen type, has said multiculturalism has been a failure in Germany.


                This is all disturbing to modern types like ourselves here @ LoOG, but it’s not fiction or irrationality.

                It’s the EPCOT version of Islam. It’s the kind of Islam we *WANT* exported the the rest of the world. An Americanized and Enlightened Islam…

                Yeah, sort of like non-evangelical Kiwanis Club Christianity in America.  Are Muslims buying such a bleaching or does it make them puke?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Are Muslims buying such a bleaching or does it make them puke?

                I’m sure that the Patriarchs in the bad parts of the culture hate the show and would try to keep their kids from watching it.

                I’m sure the kids would watch such things as the dad telling the kids that the dog stays outside and they must ALWAYS ALWAYS WASH THEIR HANDS BEFORE THEY DO ANYTHING AND THEN WASH THE FAUCETS AND THEN THEIR HANDS AGAIN AFTER PLAYING WITH THE DOG as an amazing amount of freedom. Something to dream about. “Someday I am going to go to America and I will have a dog in a doghouse. I wish my dad was like that.”Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                Well, basically, you’re admitting “All American Muslims” is cultural propaganda, JB, one you approve of.  Is it an accurate picture of Deerborn, a comprehensive one?  I dunno, although I’ve been following this American “Muslim experiment” in Deerborn quite a bit.

                Your argument has taken the form of the show being good for Muslims to see, a picture of what an “Enlightenment” Islam might look like.  But I’m not sure it really gets there: women’s rights, religious pluralism, integration/assimilation rather than a parallel culture alongside the Western one.  [Merkel’s exact complaint, that it didn’t work.]

                “And of course, the approach [to build] a multicultural [society] and to live side-by-side and to enjoy each other… has failed, utterly failed.”

                You’re arguing that America is good for Islam and Muslims, and that’s fine.  But the question for the greater populace—not just the FFA but Europe/the West as a whole—is whether Islam [read: Muslim culture, since all religions are equally false] is good for America.

                Is it racist or bigoted to ask?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I’m pretty sure that the Muslim family in Dearborn was specifically chosen for its photogenic and *ACCESSIBLE* traits. Americans who watch the show would think that these are basically good folks, decent neighbors, and mostly harmless. They might try one of the recipes the show centers around for a festival or something like that. (If we could get Turkish Coffee the way we can get lattes, that would be a delightful thing.)

                I think that the ideal that this show is selling is, in fact, a nudge in a better direction for the Middle East and ghettoized Islam in Europe.

                Is it racist or bigoted to ask?

                It can be. I don’t like how an absolutely *HUGE* plurality of immigrants to the US all come from one particular culture. (It’s like 23.7 from Mexico and the next largest group is 4.7%.)

                It’d be possible to say “too many freakin’ Mexicans!” in such a way that would be both racist and bigoted. I also like to think that we’d benefit from large numbers of immigrants from all over the world to turn the same number of Mexicans coming into the country from an overwhelming plurality to one in line with all of the other percentages.

                America benefits from a melting pot of all cultures. It would be harmed from too many of one kind. That is to say: Islam, a small amount, would be good for America. More than that? Would be bad.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                Again, I agree completely on the substance, JB.  I’d had the same thought, that perhaps we could use more highly-educated Hindus than more lesser-educated Christians from way down south, and the food is almost as good.  Is that racist or [fill in the pejorative blank]?


              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                The NorthEast has not been able to fix the worst parts of the South. I certainly think that immigration ought to have a shot.





              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                Are Muslims buying such a bleaching or does it make them puke?

                Some are, some aren’t.  It’s kind of like asking whether football fans are buying Tebow-mania.

                Back in the early ’90s I worked in LA with some Muslim females that nobody would have guessed were Muslims.  They didn’t wear scarves over their hair, much less veils or chador.  They dressed modestly, which meant stylish jeans and long-sleeved shirts, but none of the depressing denim skirt/white blouse look of American Christian fundamentalist females.  They had no hesitation in talking to us infidel males, and openly scoffed at the idea of the hijab, correctly emphasizing that it was cultural, not Koranical (if I may use such a term).

                They reminded me in a way of General Conference Mennonites–everyone thinks of Mennonites as people who wear ultra-conservative clothes, with beards for the men and bonnets for the women, but GC Mennonites are sartorially indistinguishable from the general population.  They should be the subject of AAM, but it would be an ultra-boring show because in fact there was almost no tension to speak of between being Muslim and being American.  They didn’t wear bikinis when they went to the waterpark, and two of the girls I knew worried about how their families would react when they got tatoos–but how is that any different from millions of conservative Christians in America?Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                James, here in LA, the post-shah Persian diaspora has completely assimilated with little fuss, Iran’s being a non-Arab culture as old and rich as Western Civilization.  So, stipulated that “Muslim culture” is not monolithic.  But that’s not what’s going on in Deerborn, nor with BlaiseP’s Somalians.

                The question is whether Muslims are coming here to become American, or live here in their separate-but-equal parallel Muslim culture. There is no doubt there are some of each, but at a certain critical mass, well, I’ll park Angela Merkel here as well:

                “And of course, the approach [to build] a multicultural [society] and to live side-by-side and to enjoy each other… has failed, utterly failed.”


              • Avatar greginak says:

                I’d really wonder if the definition of multi-culturalism being used by Merkel is the same being used in the US. I wonder that mostly because the definition of MC used by conservatives is different from that used by liberals. Most of the discussions of MC never even get to defining what the heck we are talking about.

                Both sets of my immigrant grandparents lived in communities made up of people from the old country and, at times, spoke the first language at home until they died. They celebrated old world customs and traditions along with loving the US, sending their sons off to war with the US Army and raising their children as Americans. Its seems like when my greek and yiddish GP’s did that, it was all good, but when Amer Muslims do it somehow it isn’t.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                Mr. Gregniak, the question is whether they’re following the same path as our grandparents and their descendants.  Perhaps yes, perhaps no.  In Europe, they are clearly not, or not sufficiently enough.  Pls get up to speed: we have moved past the grenade toss [racist! bigot!] portion of our program.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                “And of course, the approach [to build] a multicultural [society] and to live side-by-side and to enjoy each other… has failed, utterly failed.”

                I think the words of Merkel need to taken with a grain of salt, here, Tom. A lot has to do with what standards ‘living side by side and enjoying each other’ are measured by. For all to many people, achieving the ideal of mutliculturalism constitutes cultural failure.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Well, one problem that Germany has is that it is still recovering from an old immigration policy that was downright draconian (there were third and fourth generation immigrant workers who were not eligible to become German citizens).

                While it’s possible for them to become German citizens *NOW*, for a long, long, long time, it wasn’t (and that’s only changed recently… like the last decade).

                America had a thing for quite a long time where even if you didn’t like this or that Ethnic group, you still knew that they were American (and our mythology has WWII units made up of exceptionally diverse groups of (granted, European) people (though even that mythology is getting more enlightened… see, for example, the recent Captain America)). Europe’s immigration rules were much stricter and had a “not really one of us” thing going on. (Also: Language Laws.)

                So there is a lot of background (if not bad blood) that Europe is overcoming that the US has forgotten overcoming.Report

              • Avatar Liberty60 says:

                Tom, isn’t the whole beauty of America that we don’t have a specific “authentic American”culture?

                The fear of Muslims changing our culture sounds to my ears similar to the fears of the Irish/ Poles/ Italians/ Jews causing, by critical mass, a changing of our culture.

                Who gets to decide what is the “authentic” American culture?

                I don’t want to minimize the harmful effects of sharia law and ecclesiastical courts, but I tend to be every bit as fearful of the Christian snipers aiming at abortion clinics as I am of Islamic honor killings.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                Mr. Gregniak, the question is whether they’re following the same path as our grandparents and their descendants. 

                Can we actually give them as many generations as our grandparents and their descendants before we start worrying about this?

                Hell, I already mentioned the Muslims I worked with in L.A.–they were immigrants.

                And my grandparents spoke Swiss-German in the home and were devout members of their Swiss Mennonite church, despite having been born in this here English-speakin’ Onward-Christian-Soldiers singin’ country.  Why, it wasn’t until my grandpappy got a job with the Free Methodist publishing house and my mom attended a Free Methodist college that the insularity business was undermined.  And the town they’re from still has the audacity to celebrate Swiss Days every year!  Those bastards still ain’t fully assimilated!  I went down there a couple years ago for that un-American celebration and during a sermon the Mennonite pastor was apologizing–APOLOGIZING!!!11!–for not being Swiss!  Poor sonuvabitch was scared to admit it!

                And my kids are second-generation Duch-Indonesian (Swiss-German-Irish-English-Spanish-Jewish) Americans, and they’d rather eat Dutch pancakes instead of American pancakes!

                Seriously, though, by the third generation or so, everyone’s assimilated.  Hell, if a Muslim Miss America getting arrested for drunk driving ain’t a sign of assimilation, what is?

                And let’s be honest with ourselves–half of assimilation is when the dominant culture starts co-opting elements of the immigrants’ culture.  Assimilation in San Francisco is going out for Thai food after watching the Chinese New Year’s parade, then hitting a bar for some margaritas.Report

              • Avatar Rufus F. says:

                the question is whether they’re following the same path as our grandparents and their descendants.  Perhaps yes, perhaps no.  In Europe, they are clearly not, or not sufficiently enough.

                Anybody here lived in Europe? I’ve only lived in France, but I can tell you that comparing how immigrants assimilate in France to how they fare in the US is way misleading because of how the respective host countries treat them. The differences are in the favor of America in my opinion.

                Take this show, for instance. You’ve got a relatively assimilated, nice, middle-class Muslim family living in a pretty suburb. Someone decides to make a show about them and a group protests that show. I have little doubt the French media will make much of this protest so that people there can cluck their tongues at the bigoted Americans. Meanwhile, there’s not a chance in hell a nice Muslim couple lives in a suburb like that in France.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                Lib60, a Martian, let alone someone from elsewhere on our own planet could certainly tell you what’s specifically American culture, and be roughly correct. [Even our critics.]

                 Tom, isn’t the whole beauty of America that we don’t have a specific “authentic American”culture?

                No, the beauty of America is that we do, and anybody from the outside has no problem identifying it.  We are more alike than different, if compared to a European or Asian or African of the same putative ethnicity.  I have more in common with a black American dude than an Irishman.


              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Can we actually give them as many generations as our grandparents and their descendants before we start worrying about this?

                Really excellent point James. In some sense, that’s the end of the discussion wrt new immigrants.

                Insofar as the argument applies to older immigrant cultures – those that have great- and grand-parents in the US, like latinos in Southwestern states (heh!) – then we’re not talking about those cultures subverting “American culture” (whatever the hell that means), but something a little more insidious.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Btw, I should add that I’m friends with ‘Americans’ who (literally) sell their daughters into marriage and slaughter cows in the front yard as a ceremonial sacrifice. I haven’t heard any public lamentations or gnashings of teeth over whether these folks will assimilate the way our grandparents did.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                like latinos in Southwestern states (heh!)

                Heh, American culture in parts of Arizona and New Mexico is surprisingly different from American culture in Connecticut!

                But I do agree somewhat with Tom that there is something that’s surely “American” culture.  Although I find it hard to specify, and–oddly, despite his claim that it’s easy to do so–he seems to find it hard to specify, too.  I think it has something to do with loving football (gridiron style), thinking we ought to elect every political office down to county dogcatcher and township snow shoveler, loving the Constitution while wanting to violate most of the Bill of Rights to control undesirables, and thinking markets are better–for varying values of better–than state ownership of production.

                Certainly you can tell an American from a Brit or a German or an African or an Asian.  The girl who won Amazing Race this last weekend appeared to be of Chinese ancestry, but nobody who’s not a fool could ever have looked at her face and thought she personally was from China instead of the U.S.  Maybe that’s what assimilation is.Report

              • Avatar Liberty60 says:

                Tom, my point wasn’t that America doesn’t have an identifiable culture; perhaps I should have been more clear.

                What we don’t have is a fixed, officially sanctioned culture, like France.

                As James Hanley points out, most of what we consider “authentic American” culture is actually very alien to what it was when the Founders wrote the Constitution;

                Christmas, for example, was actually forbidden in parts of Colonial America. (and would be again were I Dictator-for-a-Day but that a whole nother thread).

                We don’t know what American culture will look like in 2050 but we do know it won’t look like it does today.


              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Christmas, for example, was actually forbidden in parts of Colonial America. (and would be again were I Dictator-for-a-Day but that a whole nother thread).

                I read jokes like this one and it’s like someone making a joke about how his girlfriend really needed to be slapped across the mouth.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                Lib60, the hard question is whether every culture is equally compatable with every other, or specifically, compatible with America’s [whatever it is, it is, no matter hard to define].

                I cannot agree completely that our culture is substantively different from the Founding era’s or at least from that of Tocqueville’s time [1830s], as we shed our Britishness for an Americanness—at least the non-cosmopolitan/ non-multicultural/ non-metrosexual one that FFA and “flyover country” operate in and are not anxious to alter.  You can read Tocqueville and still see America in the 21st century.

                Seems every other country gets to have its own sacred culture except us. Ours, we’re supposed to change to accommodate newcomers.

                But hell, that’s why our forefathers all left where they came from, to get away from that shit.Report

              • Avatar BSK says:

                That is an interesting perspective, Tom.  What do you make, then, of all the people, largely cultural conservatives, who constantly bemoan the downfall of society?  If American culture is largely unchanged for over two decades, in the face of the many massive shifts we’ve seen (the end of slavery, wave after wave of immigration, two world wars, various “cultural revolutions”, the Civil Rights and Woman’s Suffrage movements, etc, etc, etc.), why do you think so many people fear that rap music or dancing athletes or “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” or Islam or Lady Gaga all spell the end of the world as we know it?Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                Ah, slavery, bingbingbing, right on schedule.  WD, BSK.

                The reply is that America, perhaps always most of it, wanted slavery to end since the Founding.  We finally realized our better angels, but the devil was in the details.  The Civil War, a half-million dead, you know, that thing.

                But the question here isn’t about slavishly defending antebellum America, or to say that all progress has been bad on the Holy Trinity of the left: race, women and gays, to which these things unfailingly return.

                The issue is whether all non-American cultures are equally compatible with America’s.  Me, there are many I’d rather import than 21st century Europe’s. I really would like to give the Hindus a go.


              • Avatar BSK says:

                Did you even read my post? I listed those things not as critiques of American society, past or present, but as evidence of monumental changes our society has undergone. If it is your contention that American culture has changed little or not at all in the face of these events, than why do so many people decry the downfall of our society over things like violent video games or pornography?

                I asked an honest question and expected an honest answer. Is that fair to expect from you?Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                Clearly, you didn’t read mine, BSK, since I answered infra that slavery had been condemned since the Founding, perhaps by a constant majority.  I also wrote that we can see 21st century America in 1830s Tocqueville, not

                Instead, you try to drag me into the tall weeds of those who opposed “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,” which has absolutely nothing to the current discussion of immigrants, which besides, was a show I watched faithfully.

                If it is your contention that American culture has changed little or not at all in the face of these events,

                I didn’t say that.

                than why do so many people decry the downfall of our society over things like violent video games or pornography?

                Who says it’s fallen?  They still believe in America.   What they say is that those things are milestones on the road to perdition.

                I really can only respond henceforth to stuff that states my arguments accurately.  This remediation is boring, and a waste of my—and the gentle reader’s—time.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                Seems every other country gets to have its own sacred culture except us. Ours, we’re supposed to change to accommodate newcomers.

                Two comments.  First, it’s not so much that we’re “supposed” to change our culture to accommodate immigrants but that immigrants will have their own influence on our culture–always have, always will.  We the majority will adopt the elements of their culture that we like and that will be added to the rich pastiche that is our culture.

                It takes a little faith in humanity, a certain courage and boldness, to not fear that immigrants will fundamentally damage our culture, but instead will enrich it.  But they always have in the past, and if anything mass culture is more dominant now than in the past, due to modern media.

                Second, nobody should “get to have their own culture” free from outside influence.  I know certain anti-globalization liberals who bemoan other countries’ “loss of indigenous culture” as western–particularly American–influence creeps (or barges) in.  But they, and the locals who agree with them, are no more respectable than America’s Samuel Huntington types.  If the local populace doesn’t like something, they wont’ adopt it.  if they like it, who the hell is anyone to tell them they need to reject it in the name of cultural purity?Report

              • Avatar BSK says:


                You said: “I cannot agree completely that our culture is substantively different from the Founding era’s…”  In response, I asked, “If it is your contention that American culture has changed little or not at all…”  I did not posit to know your position inside and out, but instead inquired about it.

                But that isn’t what you’re here to do… ask and answer questions honestly and genuinely.  You want to score points.  As always.  Yet you’re always on the losing side.  Sigh…Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                BSK, if you & I didn’t have a history, I’d take you at your word—that you’re genuinely interested in my thoughts and not just trying to box me in to score points against a straw man.  Same with a few other folks hereabouts.

                I’m just not feeling it.

                I think my previous comments above make my views pretty clear to the gentle and charitable reader.  But if there’s any part that you don’t understand, pls quote me fairly if not exactly, and I’ll clear up any misunderstandings.  Indeed, I don’t even hold all the views that I’ve explicated here, if you read my obligatory tap dance.  I think this whole affair stinks, both FFA [whoever they are] and Lowe’s quick cave.Report

              • Avatar BSK says:


                You seemingly have history with most everyone here, with most of us levying the same criticisms at you.  Perhaps a bit of reflection is in order to evaluate your role in the exchanges you end up having with so many folks…Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                Yes, BSK, there’s the type that cries foul when they can’t put the ball through the hoop.  You deserve each other.  I offered to start from scratch with you, but we’re back here again.

                I’m talking Tocqueville’s America per the OP and you’re onto people who don’t like “Queer Eye,”  which is tangential at best.  There is no point to this.


              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                here in LA, the post-shah Persian diaspora has completely assimilated with little fuss, 

                Have they stopped being assholes?  Granted you can be an asshole and pretty doggone assimilated to America, but there’s a peculiarly asshole element to Persian culture that I’d love to see eliminated via assimilation.  Is that racist?  I prefer to think of it as culturalist, for which I make no apologies.  I worked with a group of Persians and Filipinos in San Francisco–those particular Persians could all rot in hell as far as I’m concerned, but I’d happily invite any random Filipino to my next cookout.  Compared to the Persians I worked with, I’ve rarely met an Arab I didn’t get along with pretty darn well.

                But that’s not what’s going on in Deerborn

                Oh, really?  You’re deeply familiar with Dearborn, Michigan from your Hollywood bungalow 2500 miles away?  Is it the Muslims in Dearborn you’re worried about, or the Arabs?Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                Oh, and you were being civil and adult there for a moment, James, before reverting to form.  You’ll understand why I have no interest in discussing this any further with you.  Or at least the readership will, whose opinions I respect.

                As for your screed and expressed prejudice against Persians, I’m sure everyone appreciates your uncharacteristic moment of honesty here.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:


                Once again you run away when faced with a serious challenge.

                What do you actually know about Dearborn?

                (By the way, “civil and adult” in tone doesn’t automatically cover up the substantive incivility of your comment.)Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                James, my experience with Persians is exactly the opposite. Perhaps it’s because my experience is more one on one than with groups. Every Persian I’ve known has been incredibly nice. Maybe it’s because they were in San Francisco, and California is an asshole magnet.

                More substantively, in response to something you said upthread, I did want to point out that outside cultures taking over isn’t as simple as the people “liking” it better. There are all sorts of factors, often related to status, for example (Americans have money and power, e.g., so emulating them turns into a status thing, particularly for the young).Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                James (and BSK), also, DNFTT.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                Who’s trolling whom, brother?  The gentle reader is encouraged to read the entire thread and decide for himself.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                Tom, you’ve always been a troll. A well-spoken one, yes, but a troll nonetheless.Report

              • Avatar wardsmith says:

                LOl, so the guy on the fishing Mashead is now a troll? Share some of what you’ve been smokin’ brother Chris – share that hookah!Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                Brother Chris, there are LoOG people with whom I share mutual respect and productive discussions; I care what they think and I respect the specialness of this forum.  It could become Balloon Juice very quickly without a critical mass of respect for what it is, with persons of good will participating.  This is my first concern, to preserve what we are, my duty to them.

                I’m a LoOG contributor who signs his full and real name to what he writes, and is obliged to keep a civil tongue in his head accordingly, despite copious provocations [see above].

                By contrast…I invite these gentle readers to examine and judge this thread for themselves, and just who’s trolling who.

                If you have any interesting thoughts on Tocqueville’s America in the 21st century, for instance, I may reply.  I think Tocqueville is more relevant at this very moment than Carson Kressley, but mileage varies.

                As for you piling on—after the coast is clear—well, that’s your style.  I notice because I find it personally hurtful, but the LoOG at large doesn’t really pay attention to any of yr stabbings, as yr knife is too short.  The irony is that I’m one of the few at the LoOG who even gives your pinpricks at our principled discussions the time of day, no doubt because they’re in my ass.

                Now that’s trolling, brother, thee not me.   I realize I need to get better about it and not let it disrupt worthwhile discussions.  So thx, Chris, for clarifying all this.


              • Avatar Rufus F. says:

                I think it’s safe to consider Tom more the site ombudsman.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                WSmith, I didn’t know I’d been added to the official LoOG masthead roll, altho privileges and passwords were granted and sent.  My thx to management/ED Kain for the honor, and their trust.

                I have only mainpaged once so far since the granting.  My foremost concern has been how to enter the mainpage discussion as a gentleman of our esteemed league, without turning it into Beirut or Somalia.  All here gathered surely agree it’s within my capacity to do so, with the proper distemperament.

                FoxNews vs. MSNBC. Hannity vs. Maddow might be entertaining for a bit, but I bet even most of both sides would switch it off, for all the clatter and talking past each other…

                [Thx for the back on this, WSmith, and as a gentleman, you merely made a point of order.  Honor demands that gentlemen don’t gang up together.  The argumentum ad populum (Latin, “appeal to the people”)—that Joe and Jim and Max agree with me—is not just a logical fallacy, it’s by definition vulgar.  Gentlepersons don’t do “vulgar.”]



              • Avatar wardsmith says:

                I could do naught else brother Tom, I’m drinking Maker’s Mark in your and Bob’s Honor tonight! Can’t type too much so many typos I have to go back and fix, drinking and typing don’t mix! Thx for trying to save me from myself over on the millionaire thread, I didn’t listen of course, (was taking so long typing my response I didn’t actually read your post until after I’d dug my hole a bit deeper), but you were right and I /did/ think they were points needed makin’.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                I’m honored & touched by that, Rufus.  EDK emailed me about why I’ve been slow to enter the mainpage. [I don’t think i’m betraying a confidence here.  I keep confidences for a living, as a headhunter by profession.]

                My reply was I’ve been trying to feel my way into upholding my respect for the League as a mainpager, and not turn it into a grenade-toss.

                Neither do I want to sacrifice my own voice and POV, and stop having fun, and become the League eunuch.  The best thing about being a member of our League [and esp as a conservative] is that you better have an honest and well-thought out argument.  Laziness and sloppiness of thought, even your turns of phrase gonna get hammered.

                This is a damn smart shark tank here: if they can’t nail you on bad facts, they’ll nail you on your rhetorical imprecision.

                It keeps a man honest, damn straight.  Straighter than any of our presidential candidates, I’ll tellya that, the GOPers or The Incumbent.

                This here LoOG of ours is a crucible par excellence.  If your arguments can make it here, they can make it anywhere.  Let the fun commence, and continue!



              • Avatar Trumwill says:

                Tom, you’re on the masthead. I know because you bumped me out of sight. 🙂Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                ward, trolldom is a style and a mindset. Tom’s been a troll since before this blog was around, and James, BSK, and I have been dealing with his trolling since before he ever commented here.

                You can see him as an ombudsman, but a poor ombudsman he would make, with his paranoia and victomhood, his intellectual dishonesty (academic studies are biased, wait, this one agrees with me, look at this dude’s credentials, how can you doubt?), and his near complete inability to actually make a point straight out. Caught in an actual discussion, he’s just going to start huffing and puffing, claim that he won, and that his interlocutor was being a big meanie, then run off.

                By the way, he’s called me (and others here) a troll several times, so I have no problem pointing out his trollishness.

                Tom, I popped in to defend BSK, because you were being an ass to him, and as usual, missing his point and failing to make one yourself. No, I don’t have anything to add to that discussion (though the one BSK and James were actually having, I may), but I submit that neither do you.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:


                I’m drinking Maker’s Mark in [Tom’s] honor

                That’s ironic, given that a few days ago he called it the drink of fascists!

                (Fortunately it’s not, and he’s not.)Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:


                a poor ombudsman he would make, with his paranoia and victomhood, his intellectual dishonesty (academic studies are biased, wait, this one agrees with me, look at this dude’s credentials, how can you doubt?), and his near complete inability to actually make a point straight out. Caught in an actual discussion, he’s just going to start huffing and puffing, claim that he won, and that his interlocutor was being a big meanie, then run off.

                Ditto this.  Although I occasionally defend Tom against what I see as inaccurate assumptions about his motives, what Chris says is all true, and has been demonstrated repeatedly.  Tom’s eloquence and references to certain estimable writers may superficially obscure this, but it ultimately cannot hide what is a persistent behavior pattern of precisely the type that Chris describes.

                Even on this page, for example, he made a claim about what’s happening in Dearborn, Michigan, and when challenged on his knowledge of that city, he avoided answering by turning the spotlight on my oh-so-vicious incivility, playing the victim yet again.  He appears to hope that by legerdemain he will cause everyone to not notice that he has failed to support his claim about Dearborn.  An honest person would either provide some kind of evidence/argument for their claim or would ‘fess up that they were speaking carelessly.

                Re: Chris on Persians.  I believe you.  Put a group of second or third generation middle-class Persians in a medium-sized midwestern town and I’d probably get along with them just fine.  My point, which I don’t think I expressed clearly, was to mock Tom for choosing California Persians as an example for Midwest Muslims*  to emulate, when my experience with the former has been far less favorable than my experience with the latter.

                *Or is it Arabs?  That’s the point of my question to Tom about Dearborn.  Is he complaining about Muslims or Arabs, and if he can’t disentangle the question then he definitely doesn’t know Dearborn well enough to comment on it.Report

              • Avatar wardsmith says:

                Of course I knew he was (obviously) joking about bourbon, hence my equally obvious rejoinder concerning same. Bob of course was in on the whole joke.

                Bob and Tom are both like peppers in the salad that is this site. I for one grow my own habaneros, thai dragons and scotch bonnets because I /love/ hot and spicy. Not everyone can handle it and many would say, “How dare you have hot peppers, I don’t personally like them so no one should like them!”

                Of course life would be pretty dull without pepper. Even that plain ole black pepper that you have on your table was once so highly valued that an ounce of it sold for an ounce of GOLD. Columbus wasn’t looking for Cuba when he headed west, but a way to circumvent ahem, Arabs and other assorted Muslims on the way to the Orient.

                I’ll keep the peppers thank you very much and we’ll see how well they can balance out the blandness that is conformity of opinion, political correctness and shallow thinking that permeates the commentariat on the Internet today. 🙂Report

            • Avatar Jeff Rubinoff says:

              For the love of all that’s holy, Islamic ecclesiastical courts are established under *British common law,* and I don’t see any way to forbid them unless the UK decided to abolish fundamental parts of British common law, which would seem like a strange way to preserve their cultural institutions.

              Under British common law, people can agree to have their civil matters arbitrated by a third party of their choice. It can’t overrule British criminal or statutory law. For example, there has been a system of Jewish courts in the UK for family law for about 300 years. Please consider reading for a basic overview. (Sorry if you don’t like the Guardian but you did link to the Daily Hate. The Guardian does at least have some standards.)Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                … okay. some sort of binding/non-binding arbitrage. Probably also applies in PA.

                Like common-law marriage and a gadzillion other strange things.Report

  20. Avatar greginak says:

    @Tom- There are some serious differences between immigration in Europe and the US. Too many European countries have not offered a route to citizenship that the US has. Muslims in Europe have been kept at arms length often and expected to assimilate over night. There are plenty of immigrant groups that have successfully become part of various Euro counties. Since pretty much every immigrant ethnic group has assimilated in a similar fashion and Muslims here seem to be, i dont’ have particular concern about them. The thing is you do need to look over a generation or two to see how it is working.


    • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

      The irony is of course, many Republican’s want to copy the European plan for Muslim’s and use it for illegal immigrants. I wonder how that could go badly.Report

  21. Avatar eva says:

    lbh ner na nffubyr.

    (This comment was rot13’ed by Jaybird. If you want to read the original message, you can go to and paste the comment in and press the “Cypher” button and read the unencrypted message!)Report

  22. Avatar Tod Kelly says:

    Oh, I have no wish to engage her in any way. I’m just curious. It seemed a fairly snarkless post. It just makes me wonder… Just what part of what I said got that reaction?Report

  23. I bet these companies are among the many that hire illegals to fill American jobs.  The Muslims in this program are Americans.  I personally   enjoy learning more of this religion and practices.  I grew up in Detroit and know very little of this religion.  I’ve lived in Las Vegas for many years and watched the unions send out illegals for the jobs here.  They do not check , while American workers are 250 down on the call list, and the companies hire the illegals.  Why aren’t these companies pulling out there ads from the ones who hire illegals ???  Not every Muslim is a terrorist just like every Morman isn’t a bigamist.  Are all the Catholic priests child molesters? Some of you people are the terrorists!Report