Jennifer Abdo Jennifer's Comments (member since Jun 07, 2011)

Jennifer's comments from the Middle East/North African Lit group.

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Mar 25, 2012 12:13PM

413 I happened to find Ilan Pappe's Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine at a University library I have temporary access to and then I started Ghada Karmi's Married to Another Man.

It was totally a coincidence that I read them in succession (I'm still reading Karmi's book), but they are actually quite related. Pappe's book detailed of course the way in which ethnic cleansing was and is carried out, but in a more detailed way than I had previously read- he had access to the archives and diaries of the "founding fathers" (if you can call them that given the situation...) of Israel. It was an eye opener. We are often led to believe that to suggest ethnic cleansing was the plan from the beginning or that they had designs on an area much greater than what they have now is to be anti-semitic or to believe Arab propaganda. It's in fact in diaries and correspondence of the early leaders! How people can dismiss that in favor of pure mythology is beyond me.

And then in Karmi's book, she leans toward a one state solution, as I do, as the only way to secure rights for everyone and sustainable peace and justice and she touches on some of the things I had just read concerning the Nakba, minus the detail about the intent of Jewish leaders.

Crazy coincidence, but so relevant!
413 I just signed up at A friend of mine did this and is getting postcards now. It soundedcool and thought maybe some of you all may be interested. I just wrote my first one. Had a heck of a time finding postcards at the store, though!
413 okyrhoe wrote: "Edited to add:
Has anyone seen the feature documentary Fordson to compare it with the TLC TV show? "

Is that about that football team on the All-American Muslim show? I have to check that out!

I think the variety comes in the degree and differences in their following the Quran or interpreting it. I already think they bit off more than they could chew with so many participants and issues that they don't do them justice. Adding differences in culture, region of origin or branch of Islam (sunni, sufi, etc) would give us less time to get into various "plots" or issues. Or maybe that would help alleviate the repetitiveness. Hard to say.
413 Wendy wrote: "Sorry for the double post (and for flip flopping between topics), but the current bruhaha surrounding the Saturday Night Live sketch about Tebow and the reaction to the same (link attached) had me ..."

I wouldn't call it a double standard. I'm Christian and not all that concerned about the Tebow thing. He prayed on the field and got teased or something? I know those teasing him are wrong and a little mean. But I have to say, why choose that time to pray right in front of everyone, in teh middle of everything? Was he overwhelmed and wanted to say thanks (sorry, I don't know the circumstance)- that would be about the only thing that I would make an exception to telling him there is a time and place for everything. Was he just trying to make a scene and or statement about his faith? I have no idea, but if that was the case, I'm even less concerned about him getting teased.

Anyway, I guess my lack of concern comes from the fact that it was a Christian display in a majority Christian country. Even though there are atheists and other religions here, everyone here pretty much knows the basics of Christianity. Not the case with Islam here, so that is why I feel like I have to stand up because I have some knowledge of it (I haven't lived in a majority Islam country, but it is in my family culture, if by marriage) and can defend against unreasonable attacks that may catch and spread like wildfire.
413 Seems like all the chatter for the show is that it's bad or they are bashing Shadia for banishing the dog she is allergic to. There are so many more issues! I'm disappointed in TLC and people in general. Not to mention Lowes. :)
413 My thoughts on the most recent episode, 6:

So Wrigley comes back home and it looks like they are trying to keep him off the carpet (good luck with that!). Sounds like the garage is a possibility- I hope they will fix it up some with temperature control if that is the case... Before this happens, Shadia talks to her mom who tells her Jeff's compromised a lot already and she must do the same. Sounds like practical advice rather than a reaction we would have been expecting based on the discussions going on here with regard to Islam and dogs (and discussion among cast on the show).

Also Nawal gets out for a workout after the baby and shakes the trainer's hand. Twice. Oops. She was nervous about telling her husband. I would hope it's just because it's never happened rather than fear that he would regard it as cheating or something. She asked for a woman trainer. I would have done that myself. The cast discussed the handshake thing. Kind of funny. Nina made fun of it and said if you get aroused by that, you have a problem, a hand fettish. I would certainly respect the wishes of someone who felt this way, even if I thought they were going a bit far. I mean in Christianity, we are warned to avoid the appearance of evil and so I wouldn't go hang out with ex boyfriends (male trainers, or whomever) even if I was dead certain nothing would come of it- I wouldn't want the appearance or possibility. I understand to some degree.

Hassan's death brings to light some issues. They think people will view the death as- look, now they are turning on themselves. Or that it would fuel stereotypes of violence even though violence exists in every community. I thought there was some interesting discussion there.

In all three of these items, though I feel TLC didn't do the subjects justice. I feel that in the case of the Wrigley thing, they kind of jumped around and didn't give a good representation of the progression of events (and in the process didn't do the cast justice).

In the other two things, they didn't really flesh out the issue or given enough context or depth.

Oh, and they did touch on sharia law. It was ok, just not enough detail. They did say that it was religious law in Islam, not to supercede the law of the land, and that Michigan in no way conforms to it. I'm glad they got that in there. I'm glad they had Mr. Jaafar from the police department and Suehalia from the courts to talk about it, I just wish more detail had been given, discussion had, questions from the audience maybe? These are two valuable members of the cast that are probably being underutilized. Maybe they can't say too much due to the nature of their job, but it would be helpful if they could.

I think if this flops, it will be TLC or the particular people TLC put in charge of this project that should take the blame, not the cast or subject. I wonder if they've got experienced people on this, people knowledgeable about Islam or not, or who is working on it? I'll have to take a look maybe. I'm curious now.

This had great potential that is kind of being wasted. It's timely and interesting, but not being done justice - not in a bigoted, stereotypical way, but a quality one.

New episode, 7, is 1/1/12 and it will be about 9/11 and the 10 year anniversary. Should be good unless TLC messes that up, too.
413 Not to side with Kayak or anything---
I also think the show's not the best in the world, but I will stick it out because it is a subject that interests me.

Anyway, I was thinking what would make it better and I wonder why it isn't as addictive as some of TLC's other shows (even thought they are often less interesting or more disturbing subject matter). The suggestion someone had of a one hour special... or several hour miniseries might be good, too, if they got multiple families and only covered one issue. I think the problem is that the other TLC shows are basically about one family when they do something like this. But I wonder if the participants or the Dearborn community or TLC thought it would be too intrusive to do it in that style, so TLC had to get more than one family. I mean, there is a severe lack of privacy having cameras all up in your business all the time and it may or may not have contributed to marital issues with Jon and Kate and Little People Big World couple (my opinion only). Maybe TLC's intent was to show a variety of viewpoints in which case multiple families were the plan and due to all the issues and time constraints of trying to get sufficient background on each family and focus on problems and solutions, TLC bit off more than they could chew.

I think they should have done multiple families and one issue (headscarf in America; praying 5 times a day in America; sports and Islam- Ramadan, headscarf challenges; conversions to and from, or whatever else) or one family and all the issues. In the last one, if they followed Suehalia around, they'd get her parents because she lives at home, her job, life decisions, Shadia's wedding, gatherings of family and friends where these individuals can talk to the camera in that one on one way. I also think sometimes background is missing. On the Little People show, someone on the show always narrates or introduces the different pieces of the show so it helps with the familiarity and context.

Or maybe TLC wasn't the right network to handle this topic to answer questions and pick "story lines" most Americans want to know about...
413 Wendy wrote: "Attached is a link to the list of shows currently being aired by TLC. I am curious to know which, if any, of these businesses, pulled their ads from other shows on this network. Why do they feel ..."

Exactly, Wendy!

For Toddlers and Tiaras I always say "Unsolved Mysteries" but maybe I'm more cynical.
413 Found a bit on why Kayak says TLC misrepresented the show...

Quote from this site:

“When TLC pitched All-American Muslim to advertisers, it was characterized as a fair-and-balanced look at the life of an American Muslim,” Birge says. “However, what was not disclosed was the preexisting controversy surrounding race, religion and specifically the divide between the Muslim and Christian communities in Dearborn, Mich. Dearborn has been a center of controversy for right or wrong; however, that was omitted by TLC when it pitched the show.”

Also on that site, it says Kayak's first blog post was about this issue (it is sorry to say) and that it has been interacting with critics on Twitter. Interesting...

The first sentence makes it seem like they were headed in the direction of the FFA - hey- this shows Muslims as "too normal."

The other part makes it seem like they just didn't know Dearborn had a large Arab and/ or Muslim population, uncharacteristic of the rest of the country. Which is where charges of misrepresentation may occur. But if you want to see how Muslims are living here, it would make sense you'd go there. But as to them not realizing Dearborn was a center of controversy- that's ridiculous. Look at the heat Muslims have taken after 9/11. Any show about them is going to be (considered) controversial. They really should have known that, even if they didn't know much of anything about Dearborn.
413 Got some links for my post on the Kayak ad pull:
413 also pulled ads. They pulled them because of angry emails as well- didn't say how many... AND condemned TLC for "misrepresenting what the show was about." (???) Don't know what that means exactly. I took it to mean the same as teh Florida Family Association's deal about it showing Muslims as people rather than terrorists, but I haven't found anything that gives more info. Also saw a headline that is apologizing, but no time to read now.

Sorry no links! No time at the moment...

413 Kind of reminds me of the Rachel Ray keffiyeh blowup. As it turned out, she wasn't wearing a keffiyeh, but a regular scarf, but bigots saw red and Duncan Donuts pulled the ad based on ...basically nothing.
413 The shocking thing to me was an author of an article I linked to that talked to the heads of Lowe's and found that dozens complained, not thousands and as a result they pulled the ads.

I don't know if my copy and paste of my blog post linked to anything, but the article was a USA Today and the authors first name was Suehalia, but not the same one as on the show :)

Thanks for your kind words!
413 I had the same thought. I may have said it to Lowe's. Maybe I should have edited better. Or at all. ;)

Here it is:

I, a formerly satisfied customer, am writing to inform you of my extreme displeasure in the recent events with which you have been involved: The so called Florida Family Association got you to pull ads from TLC's All-American Muslim, you made a statement admitting as much, then amid backlash you backtracked saying that you received emails from a broad spectrum of customers which actually only amounted to dozens rather than thousands or hundreds of thousands of letters.

The decision to pull the ads was not only hasty and premature, but also bigoted and cowardly. You obviously didn't investigate the claims of your dozens of Muslim hating customers because if you had, you would have found that TLC's show does not advocate one way or the other on any societal or political issues. All-American Muslim simply depicts the daily life of several members of a community many Americans know very little about. This show has much educational value and it naturally prompts discussion of important issues anyone encounters in life. This show is about life in America as much as any other show that you fund with your ads; I'm very confused as to how this one violates your ad guidelines.

I can only assume Lowe's has Muslim customers. I would have hoped, had you acted after some thought, that you would have been able to stand up for these customers who may or may not write to express their displeasure. Your actions rather said you would rather not be associated with one segment of the American population. Is that true? Do you only offer your products to certain people? I expected you to stand up for the fact that Muslim or Christian or anything else- we are all Americans instead of caving to a minority of bigots. I expected a large corporation like Lowe's to have a backbone and be able to stand up to a dozen emailers or even thousands on the very American value of all men being created equal.

Maybe I was wrong to expect your company to stand for what is right and American. Bigotry has won- unless you have a plan to turn this around.

Maybe it is not possible to buy back your ads for All-American Muslim, but what is needed is a massive sensitive, well-thought out apology and/or campaign to repair your image with those who are Muslim, those who are American and those whose intelligence you insulted by siding so quickly and decisively with those who want us to believe all Muslims are terrorists. I wouldn't know where to begin, so wish you much luck with that.

Or maybe your pulling of your ads from All-American Muslim have effectively highlighted the discrimination Muslims face in America and a boycott of your company will be a lesson in human rights and equality for many.

Peace to you,

*** ****
413 Just sent both letters this AM, so I don't expect it yet. And I can't remember if I checked the box for a response. :) I hope so.
413 Haaze wrote: "Wendy wrote: "

Well, here in the U.S. -- a country that prides itself on religious tolerance, an advertiser on the All-Ame..."

Someone bought up the rest of the spots, so in that way the show is covered...
413 I wrote to Lowe's (it is HQ in my state :( ) and to TLC condemning and praising respectively. :)

My post on the Lowe's ad thingy:

NC based Lowes pulls funding from show All-American Muslim
Holiday wishes from Lowes!

So, I'm wondering, what do they have the problem with, Americans or Muslims? ;)

Did they buy into that idiotic email about Muslims not being "good Americans"? I (probably unreasonably) have had more faith in people than that recently.

The Florida Family Association will play a role, if you read anything about the controversy. A web search for their campaign/petition text yields a "404 Not Found" message, but this site quotes some of it as well as trying to link to it (full FFA letter)...

Whatever the reason- pretty trashy move, Lowes!

Let's go on and post this link to the petition to talk some sense into Lowes (and contacts for Lowe's and TLC):
And Lowe's Corporate webform (had to keep deleting, but I got in a few good paragraphs)... or this email
And TLC viewer relations while we're at it (1500 character limit, I think)...

What do they have to say for themselves (not much- pretty weak, Lowes!):

The North Carolina-based Lowe's issued a statement apologizing for having "managed to make some people very unhappy."
"Individuals and groups have strong political and societal views on this topic, and this program became a lightning rod for many of those views," the statement said. "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."

Way to cave to a little pressure, Lowes! So much for socially responsible business. Like Caterpillar and the bulldozing of homes overseas. Wow. NC and Lowes aren't looking too good right about now. All those "Home of this and that" signs across the state might as well say bigot now. "Managed to make some people unhappy"??? I'd rather see "oops, that was racist/bigoted, we'll try and have more respect for fellow human beings in the future, we're sorry for reflecting poorly on NC and the US, guess what we're starting a Muslim scholarship fund (or at least reinstating ads)."

Really?!?! I mean if a bunch of bigoted white people emailed Lowes hate mail about black people, would Lowes fire all black employees? Or stop ads during shows with majority black casts?

Or is it just Muslims that it's OK to discriminate against and or hate?

It's best to defer to bigots? When? On what planet? I mean, where do we live? What decade is this again? We never learn. Come on, Lowes!

On wikipedia:

A chain spokesperson said it was because of "...concerns, complaints or issues from multiple sides of the viewer spectrum", while also telling the association in an e-mail that it had "brought [the show] to our attention."

Multiple sides? Really? Spectrum? Would that be the Christians the hate Muslims, the Jews and hate Muslim and atheists who hate Muslims? I'm afraid I can't fathom more than one side on this. I'd like to see some sort of graph or explanation of the spectrum.

Lowes on Twitter (for even less clarity):
Lowe’s values diversity of thought in everyone, including our employees and prospective customers.

We did not pull our ads based solely on the complaints or emails of any one group. It is never our intent to alienate anyone.

Really, Lowes? Because it looks like either your other comments are a lie or these tweets are a lie. I wonder which it is.

I wonder if Lowes has the same feeling about TLC's other shows- Extreme Couponing (I've got a disease similar to hoarding, but it's cool, I'm saving money), 19 Kids and Counting (trying to make a fringe extremist Christian group mainstream- if I were to make a complaint similar to the AAM haters'), Sister Wives (polygamy is illegal- Lowes wants to promote that but not Muslim Americans??). I really don't know if All-American Muslim is the only show Lowes has pulled it's ads from on TLC or on any other network, but I have to ask.

If you watch the show, you see that that could easily be a show about a bunch of Christian families- maybe different denominations or differing levels of "devoutness." They discuss Islam on the show (both in reality and discussion formats), so you don't have to hear about it from hateful people or evangelicals who know nothing about it. You also see that outside of the religion they also struggle with exactly the same things everyone else does.

And I suppose (with all 3 items) therein lies the danger- once you see others as human and there's no one to demonize, you have to look inward- and we can't have that, now, can we? Who knows what we would find.

Another issue- There are Lowes in or around Dearborn. What are they going to do??? Maybe Muslims shop there. (?!?!? The horror!) Are they going to ban Muslims from the stores to save their sorry image and make this evangelical group happy? Do they accept Muslims' money? Lowes needs to poop or get off the pot. Do you have a problem with Muslims or Americans or peace and understanding? Be consistent. If you get rid of the ads, get on with it, put the sign on your door. Take us back to the pre-civil rights era. Get it out there so we can have this thing struck down. Or you could admit you were wrong and headed in a very un-American direction and make amends yourself.

On a different note: Previews after the 5th episode show what looks like Fouad, the football coach, the cast at a memorial service, with the eulogy including something like "when will the violence end." Yikes. Could be several events crammed together by TLC (like all networks like to do) to look exactly like something it isn't, but it looks serious. We'll see!

Also good points on:

Not to get big brother on you, but my Feedjit tool tells what people search for and some crack me up:

muslims hate lowes
lowes says they hate muslims
what is going on between lowes and the muslims
lowes muslim problem
413 I heard a bit on the radio about sex segregation in American schools (yes, we do have them!) - about whether it is beneficial, etc.

That was a good point about raising boys to respect all people. It needs to be done more in the US as well.

I've read some (by Arabs) on the harassment topic and they made the point that if women were in the work force and public life in general whether they wore hijab or not in the same proportion as their population, this would greatly impact the harassment issue for the better.

Whoever said women can't reach mysogynists was right- I think they have to be there to say I have the same rights as you and that includes not getting leered at, grabbed, spoken to like I'm for sale, etc. (speaking of which I got leered at and inappropriately spoken to as the gas station last night- probably not smart to get gas at night anyway if you don't want to end up on the wrong side of crime scene tape :) ) I know in Christianity, but probably in Islam, too , both sexes have the responsibility to keep themselves pure- sometimes both forget this and just blame the woman, though. In the churches I have been involved with, we have sustained or maintained respect for women while emphasizing what we believe as womens' roles (they can't preach, etc but can teach young kids, raise their own children, etc) by teaching what the Bible says about the value of women and that their role is no less important, though may be slightly less public. I bet the same could be done with the Quran- though getting men who can see this and are willing to proclaim it might be hard... but present it as a challenge and maybe men would be up for it?
413 The only "experience" I have is that of my husband who went to Egypt once when he was 12 and/or 16 and my Palestinian father in law who went to college there. One of the favorite stories is of going to see the pyramids on camels and the kid (I gathered he was pretty young) leading the camels said something about my mother in law being American and something inappropriate (in Arabic) as well and my father in law said something to him and smacked him good. I wish I could have seen it because I can't picture it!

Thanks for humoring me on this. I mean no offense when I said exaggeration above- I just have no frame of reference having never been to the Middle East. Wish I could visit, though.
413 Thanks for the info! I hope to check the links out soon, Nile Daughter.

The harassment of women in the streets is one of many things I have thought about. I can try and put myself in an Egyptian womans shoes, but it's hard to comprehend. I always wonder if Egyptians are exaggerating or if Westerners are exaggerating to make the Middle East look bad or what the real deal is. Our government doesn't necessarily have a propaganda machine like other regimes (some may disagree! :) ), but things get twisted all the same.

Thank you for sharing! I was so curious if there had been any "sightings" of men in veils by group members :) :) Oh well!
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