Lesniak Calls On Lowe’s Competitors To Stand Up For American Ideals

Senator Says Hardware Chain’s Move to Pull Ads from Show Promoting Religious Tolerance Unacceptable; Urges Competitors to Fill In Ad Spots

TRENTON – Senator Raymond J. Lesniak, D-Union, the Chairman of the Senate Economic Growth Committee, issued the following statement today, condemning the decision by Lowe’s hardware stores to pull ad space from TLC’s All-American Muslim, a show chronicling the life of five Muslim families living in Dearborn, Michigan in order to better promote understanding of the Muslim faith and religious tolerance for all people. The Senator also urged Lowe’s competitors to stand up for American ideals of freedom of religion and welcoming of other cultures, and fill in the ad space which was left by Lowe’s departure:

“America was founded on the premise that individuals should be able to worship as they please, free from government interference, but also absent the persecution, bigotry and outright hate which seems to be in the hearts of those who’ve urged Lowe’s to pull their ads from All-American Muslim. Rather than tell these extremists where they can take their brand of anti-American vitriol, Lowe’s did the cowardly thing and caved to the lowest common denominator.

“There’s no question that many anti-Muslim views exist in our society today. The terrorist acts of a group of Islamic adherents on September 11, 2001 should not affect the perceptions of all Muslims, worldwide, more than a decade later. One of the ideas behind All-American Muslim, from what I have seen, is to dispel the myths associated with Islam and promote more religious tolerance between all religions and all people.

“By succumbing to the fear-mongering and prejudice which makes shows like All-American Muslim all the more necessary, Lowe’s has aligned itself with discriminatory and hateful individuals who seek to use fear to force their social agenda. As Americans, and as consumers, we should not stand for such intolerance and should make a statement with our spending cash about what we think of the decision. I for one won’t make any purchases at Lowe’s.

“At the same time, I urge Lowe’s competitors to stand up for freedom of religion and acceptance and tolerance towards all individuals and fill in the ad spots vacated by Lowe’s. Not only would it send the message that there are responsible corporations out there which won’t kowtow to bigots, but it would also likely be a good public relations move from retailers seeking to compete in this difficult economic climate.

“While this entire sorry episode began as a lesson of what happens when a company lets fanatics push their advertising campaign, I remain hopeful that we can use this as an opportunity to showcase how tolerance and acceptance can co-exist with free-market ideals. Lowe’s decision to pull its advertising from All-American Muslim represents validation for those with a narrow, prejudiced world view, who think of Muslims as ‘the enemy.’ The fact is that the program shows Muslim families worshipping in peace and living their lives as Americans do all over the country, regardless of race, creed or religion. I look forward to some corporation stepping up and taking over Lowe’s ad-buy, in order to send the message that Americans are not as intolerant, fearful and hateful as the people behind Lowe’s misguided and un-American advertising decision.”