Lowe’s, the home improvement chain, beckons shoppers with, “Let’s build something together.” Earlier this month, Loewe’s sought to help build walls around American Muslims. This gives a whole new meaning to the ancient meaning of Chanukah, the Jewish Festival of Lights. So let me unravel the mystery.
The Tampa-based Florida Family Association took umbrage at a reality show on TLC (formerly The Learning Channel) titled “All-American Muslim.” The show tracks five Lebanese Muslim families in Dearborn, Michigan, a Detroit suburb with over 30,000 Arab-Americans. The FFA believes that “All-American Muslim” seeks to hide American Muslims’ desire to subjugate the U.S. to Sharia—Muslim law. So the FFA sent emails to companies asking them to pull their advertising. Lowe’s complied.
Interestingly, I heard one of the show’s producers on the radio. He took heat—from Muslim-Americans. They complained that the families “All-American Muslim” portrays are too American. Not all the women wear a hijab (head scarf). One woman wants to open a nightclub. And why just Lebanese-Americans? The producer explained that these were real people, and should the show be renewed, it could explore the dynamics of other American Muslims. His critics continued attacking.
As for Lowe’s, the company acknowledged that it “managed to make some people very unhappy.” Really? “Individuals and groups have strong political and societal views on this topic,” Lowe’s stated, “and this program became a lightning rod for many of those views. As a result we did pull our advertising on this program. We believe it is best to respectfully defer to communities, individuals and groups to discuss and consider such issues of importance.”
OMG! Since when is one’s right to exist up for discussion? Does Lowe’s believe that I should respectfully defer to anyone who holds me, as a Jew, in contempt? Lowe’s pulling advertising had nothing to do with rational discussion of legitimate issues. The company yielded to hatred.
Which brings me to Chanukah. Reality is that Jews led by Mattathias and his sons—Judah the Macabee (the hammer) chief among them—fought the Assyrian Greeks who sought to eradicate Judaism. Against the odds, the Macabees drove the Assyrians out then purified the Temple in Jerusalem. A few centuries later, the Sages, under Roman rule, feared celebrating a rebellious military triumph and stressed the miracle of a day’s worth of religiously pure oil lasting eight. Only in recent decades has Chanukah’s military aspect exited the closet. The holiday teaches an important lesson about standing up for your right to be who you are. Not to dominate others. Just to be.
By the way, I checked out the first show of “All-American Muslim.” I liked it. I related, too, because Muslim-Americans’ concerns are akin to those of Jews—even if many Jews see themselves as assimilated and beyond the hostility of others.
The Florida Family Association? It has become a symbol of the un-Americanism of which it accuses American Muslims. And Lowe’s will pay the piper. As Hosea 8:7 warns, “They sow wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind.”
But as Chanukah brightens our winter days and Christmas approaches, something good can come of this. We really can build something together. Decency.
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