The Daily Show did a piece on Tuesday about a group known as the Florida Family Association (FFA), and their opposition to the TLC reality TV series, All-American Muslim. The show follows the daily lives of five American Muslims in Dearborn, Michigan.
What does the FFA object to about the show? Well, that it doesn’t depict the extremist side of Islam. That it doesn’t mention sharia law. Basically, that it accustoms Americans to a view of Muslims as normal, decent people. For shame!
The executive director of the FFA, David Canton, says in an interview:
This program creates an image that’s harmful, education-wise, to the belief structure and memories of millions of Americans who will look at this and say “well, all muslims are like that,” when it’s not accurate.
Yes! Many Americans are likely to make that mistake. After all, there’s been so little in the news and public discourse over the past ten years to remind us that there are dangerous Muslims out there! Islamic extremism has been such a low-key issue since 9/11.
Perhaps one of the side-effects of All-American Muslim (its principal aim being to make money) would be to break the involuntary association many Americans have no doubt developed between Islam and terrorism. We’ve seen so many images of evil Muslims, that it bears mention that there are many Muslims who are not like that. I see this as a worthwhile goal.
Now, this isn’t to say that Islam, as it is practiced in much of the world, isn’t a threat to human rights and civil society. Sharia law is a horrible collection of inhumane rules and punishments, with those who disobey suffering atrocious treatment at the hands of their fellow men. I have read the opinions of many humanists who believe that Islam in general is one of the more threatening religions in the world today because, unlike Christians who have largely separated themselves from many of the horrible rules and punishments laid out in their Bible, Muslims still take the inhumane parts of the Koran very seriously. In other words, Christianity has gone through a sort of enlightenment in which Christians have rejected many of the disgusting practices their holy book calls for (e.g. forcing rape victims to marry their rapists), whereas Islam, by-and-large, has not. I would say that concerns about Muslim beliefs regarding blasphemy, apostasy, the treatment of women, criminal punishment, etc. are quite legitimate, and deserve to be treated seriously.
But the FFA does not make a big deal about sharia because they have rational objections to it, stemming from a serious concern for human rights. A quick perusal of their website shows them to be a conservative Christian organization (surprise, surprise) with no concern for the rights of gays or pregnant women. Just like the Muslims they oppose, these Christians have their own code of rules that they would like to enforce on the rest of us. So why do they feel so threatened by Islam? Probably because they feel it is encroaching on their turf.
UPDATE: Apparently David Canton is not just the executive director of the FFA, he is the FFA. It is a one-man organization. A bit of a pathetic revelation, but not at all a surprising one.