Not all anti-Muslim loons are non-Muslims. Indeed, there are a handful of loons that are in fact self-hating Muslims. Case in point: Asra Nomani.
(I’ve written about her before, so I’ll skip introducing her.)
Nomani dons the mantle of a “moderate, progressive, and liberal” Muslim, yet she consistently takes the side of right-wing, uber-conservative loons against Muslims. It is faux progressives like her who have tarnished the image of progressivism in much of the Muslim world.
Over the years, Asra Nomani has sided with extreme right-wingers and Islamophobes against Muslims time and time again. At first, her absurd views had a lot of shock value. Now, they’re just plain predictable. So, it’s no surprise that Ms. Nomani has taken the side of Lowe’s, which pulled its advertisements from TLC’s All-American Muslim after Islamophobes sent them letters of protest. The Islamophobes complained that the show only showed regular Muslims instead of Terrorist Muslims (since of course all Muslims are Terrorists).
Asra Nomani’s article, like her other work, is intellectually bereft. The blurb to her article says:
Another advertiser pulled out of TLC’s All-American Muslim—but it’s not because the company is ‘Islamophobic.’ It’s simply a terrible program, writes Asra Q. Nomani.
The only problem with this, the entire premise of her article, is that neither Lowe’s or Kayak pulled out because the show is “a terrible program.”
Nomani writes (emphasis is mine):
Lowe’s, the national chain, did the right thing in pulling its advertising from the series. The company said it killed advertising from the show because it had become too controversial, but there is another legitimate reason the company could have given for yanking its advertising: it’s bad TV.
It “could have given” this “legitimate reason” to yank its advertisement, but it didn’t. It pulled the advertisement because Islamophobes emailed them to do so. Even their cover-excuse wasn’t that the show was “bad TV” but that “it had become too controversial” as Nomani’s own words attest to.
How did Lowe’s do “the right thing” if they pulled the show for the wrong reason, i.e. cowing to anti-Muslim bigotry? To understand this point, imagine for instance if Lowe’s pulled its ads from CNN’s Black in America not because it was “bad TV” but because a bunch of white racists emailed them complaining that the show portrayed blacks too sympathetically? That it only showed regular black people instead of murderers and rapists? If Lowe’s succumbed to this bigotry by yanking its ads from Black in America, would Asra Nomani applaud this action (regardless of the show’s quality)?
The quality of All-American Muslim is irrelevant, because the reason advertisers pulled out had nothing to do with that, but everything to do with the fact that Islamophobes lost their minds that a show would show normal Muslims on television.
Asra Nomani’s whole argument is based on three words she slipped into her writing: “could have given.” Except it didn’t.
True, Nomani was more likely referring to Kayak’s lame excuse for pulling its advertisement (see my earlier article about Kayak’s “apology”); she writes:
Now, Kayak, an Internet travel company, announced that it too is pulling its advertising. Robert Birge, chief marketing officer at Kayak, put it as plain as it gets: “…I watched the first two episodes,” he wrote in a letter to customers, titled “We Handled This Poorly.” “Mostly, I just thought the show sucked.”
But here again, Asra Nomani misleads the reader. Robert Birge, the Kayak executive, does mention that he thought the show sucks, but the bulk of his explanation is about how the show became a “lightning rod” and how TLC supposedly didn’t inform Kayak about this. Birge wrote:
When we decided to give our money to TLC for this program, we deemed the show a worthy topic. When we received angry emails regarding our decision to advertise, I looked into the show more thoroughly.
The first thing I discovered was that TLC was not upfront with us about the nature of this show. As I said, it’s a worthy topic, but any reasonable person would know that this topic is a particular lightning rod. We believe TLC went out of their way to pick a fight on this, and they didn’t let us know their intentions. That’s not a business practice that generally gets repeat business from us. I also believe that it did this subject a grave disservice. Sadly, TLC is now enjoying the attention from this controversy.
So, after the show received “angry emails” from Islamophobes, they then looked into the show and pulled it because TLC supposedly hadn’t informed them that the show would be controversial. In other words, their explanation is very similar to that given by Lowe’s.
In the concluding sentence of the “apology”, Birge writes:
Based on our dealings with TLC and the simple assessment of the show, I decided we should put our money elsewhere.
Even if we say the decision was partially due to the “controversy” issue and party due to the show “sucking”, does Asra Nomani not see the problem that the show was pulled only after Kayak received “angry emails” from Islamophobes? Again, how would we feel about Kayak if it pulled its ads from Black in America after receiving “hate mail” from Neo-Nazi groups? Any lame excuses such as the show was “too controversial” or that “it sucked” would not be taken seriously.
Asra Nomani goes on:
To me, the issue of Islam-bashing has become a straw man in this debate. This isn’t a referendum on whether a person hates on Islam or not. It’s about TV—and what makes for good TV and what doesn’t. For example, I made it through only two episodes of TLC’s Toddlers and Tiaras, because how many times can we watch Princess Penelope throw a temper tantrum? If Lowe’s or Kayak didn’t advertise there, would we argue that they were trashing prissy little girls and their mom? No, we’d say that they don’t want to spend their ad dollars on bad TV.
TLC’s Toddlers and Tiaras does receive advertisements, even if you and I agree “it sucks.” Has Nomani never flipped through channels on television and watched a reality show? The vast majority of them suck, but even still they are able to garner advertisements. Also, since when did companies restrict advertisements to shows they themselves personally watch?
The problem is that All-American Muslim is being singled out and unable to hold some advertisers because the show is about Muslims. Had these companies pulled out from the show on their own volition due to ratings–and not immediately after Islamophobes demanded them to–nobody would be crying foul. So, in reality, it is Asra Nomani who is raising a straw man argument: again, if it had really been about the show sucking and its ratings tanking, then nary a Muslim or liberal would protest.
Asra Nomani’s article blares:
To me, the issue of Islam-bashing has become a straw man in this debate. It’s about TV.
This assessment reflects how vacuous Asra Nomani truly is (I see absolutely nothing intellectually stimulating ever coming from this woman): it’s not about T.V. at all–it is all about Islam-bashing. The show was pulled because Islamophobes protested it and not because the show “sucks.” This is exactly the reason why in my earlier article about Kayak’s “apology” and this one, I have not even tried to defend the show’s quality, because that subjective opinion is simply irrelevant. But if you want to go down that path, I can safely say that there exists no dearth of sucky programs on the boob tube, all of which seem to attract and hold advertisers just fine.
* * * * *
In my previous article about Asra Nomani, written almost exactly one year ago, I mentioned how she always feels compelled to inject herself into all of her articles:
Notice how she prefaces her statement with “I am Muslim.” Well then, you must automatically be a spokesperson for Muslims everywhere, and whatever you say about Islam and Muslims must be true. You are, after all, a real life Muslim! In fact, Asra Nomani can hardly ever write an article or argue a point without injecting herself into it, such is her self-absorbed nature.
Lo and behold, the very first words of her article about All-American Muslim:
As a real-life American Muslim…
As an American Muslim consumer…
And still elsewhere:
We get it! You are a real life, living, breathing Muslim! Well then, you must be an expert on everything about Islam and Muslims.
Asra Nomani keeps mentioning that she’s a real life Muslim because the only reason she has obtained some level of fame is because (1) she voices right-wing views against Muslims and Islam, and (2) she is a Muslim herself. If she were simply a right-winger, she’d just be another run-of-the-mill Islamophobe trolling the internet. On the other hand, if she were just Muslim, well then so what? But it’s the combination of #1 and #2 that sustains her notoriety, because certain right-wing elements like to promote a self-hating Muslim who says all the things they themselves say: if even a Muslim says it about Islam and Muslims, then it must be true!
Meanwhile, Nomani remains very hungry and desperate for attention, which is why she added this absolutely unnecessary bit to her article:
As an American Muslim consumer, I can say that I’ll likely buy the lumber for my son’s treehouse at Lowe’s, and I’ll switch from Expedia to Kayak. I like the company’s common sense
Asra Nomani is like the black kid who hung a Confederate flag in his dorm room; he wouldn’t have garnered national attention had he been a white kid. And likewise, Nomani’s writing would whither into oblivion if she didn’t constantly invoke her “I’m a Muslim” card. That’s because aside from this fact, there is nothing at all interesting to learn from Asra Nomani’s uninspired writing.