This post originally appeared in Colorlines.
David Caton was once addicted to pornography. A former corporate accountant, Caton is now the executive director of the Florida Family Association, a conservative evangelical group that’s railed against anything it’s deemed “immoral” since its inception in 1987. He’s written books that oddly document his experiences and recovery, but the crux of Caton’s political work has been to identify and attack the very foundation of what he believes to be the cause of his illness: the deeply depraved moral fabric of America.
Which, in his estimation, means the media.
But Caton has recently added a new enemy to his crosshairs: Muslims. And in an American climate that’s rife with anti-Muslim sentiment, Caton—who’s backed by some of today’s most influential anti-Muslim conservative writers—has managed to bully Lowe’s, a major American retailer, into a widening web of Islamophobic hate.
For its own part, Lowe’s claims to value diversity. But its decision to pull its advertising from a seemingly innocuous reality TV show suggest that it’s running from any meaningful discussion of race.
This week, Caton and his Florida Family Association made national headlines after it was announced that it had successfully campaigned the big-box home improvement retailer to pull its advertising from TLC’s “All American Muslim,” a new show that follows the lives of five Lebanese American families living in Dearborn, Mich.
“The show profiles only Muslims that appear to be ordinary folks while excluding many Islamic believers whose agenda poses a clear and present danger to liberties and traditional values that the majority of Americans cherish,” the association wrote in an email to its supporters.
In a statement released shortly after the decision was made to pull the ads, a Lowe’s spokesperson tried to explain its rationale. “While we continue to advertise on various cable networks, including TLC, there are certain programs that do not meet Lowe’s advertising guidelines, including the show you brought to our attention. Lowe’s will no longer be advertising on the program,” the company wrote in a statement.
Since news of Caton’s crusade became public, other notable figures have stepped up in the show’s defense. American actress Mia Farrow and music mogul Russell Simmons have called for a boycott of Lowe’s, with Simmons promising to buy any remaining ad space left by companies that have pulled out.
Caton’s group claims to have pressured a total of 64 companies into pulling their advertising from the show, but CNN notes that ad time for last Sunday’s episode was sold out.
Several Democrats have also spoken out against the decision made by Lowe’s, including Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison, who’s Muslim, and Connecticut Rep. Chris Murphy.
“There are two ends of the spectrum,” says Zahra Billoo, of lawmakers’s responses to anti-Muslim sentiment in the United States. Billoo is the executi…