Music

Russell Simmons Lends Support to Controversial Muslim Show: 6 Other Hip-Hop Activists

Thu., Dec. 15, 2011 8:29 AM EST
by Nicholas Robinson

Russell Simmons has never been one to remain silent about political and social injustices. So it comes as little surprise that Simmons recently took aim at hardware retailer Lowe’s for pulling their ads from the controversial TLC reality series “All-American Muslims” and decided lend his support and his wallet to the show.

The trouble began last week when Lowe’s caved in to protests from the Florida Family Association, a Christian group based in Tampa Bay, and dropped its ads from the show.

“ ‘All-American Muslim’ is propaganda clearly designed to counter legitimate and present-day concerns about many Muslims who are advancing Islamic fundamentalism and Sharia law,” the group said in a letter to Lowe’s, the Washington Post reports.

Lowe’s explained their decision to drop their ads from the show by simply saying, “We understand the program raised concerns, complaints, or issues from multiple sides of the viewer spectrum, which we found after doing research of news articles and blogs covering the show. We based our decision to pull the advertising on this research and after hearing the concerns we received through emails, calls, through social media and in news reports. It is certainly never Lowe’s intent to alienate anyone. Lowe’s values diversity of thought.”

Simmons, who is chairman of the The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, which promotes racial and inter-faith harmony, was none too pleased once he found out about Lowe’s decision and proceeded to slam the hardware giant in an interview with Entertainment Weekly over the weekend.

“This can’t happen in America; [Lowe’s] needs to fix this immediately,” Simmons said, calling the move Islamophobic. “They can’t get away with that, it’s ridiculous. There are American principles at stake here. I can’t imagine the Anti-Defamation League, the NAACP, the National Urban League, or any organization that fights for their own rights will allow this to happen to any other group because they know they’re next.”

“If I go to work on this,” Simmons continued, “they’re not even going to believe it. This is not going to be a Muslim fight. I don’t want to take my time and start a boycott — don’t make me do that.”

And go to work he did. Earlier this week, Simmons tweeted that he was going to “put his money where his mouth is” and purchase the remaining spots for [“All American Muslim”] for next week.”

Unfortunately, Simmons later tweeted that all of the ads were sold out and it was reported that he has not yet secured the space to promote his prepaid Visa Rush Card. However, Simmons did create a petition to get Lowe’s to apologize for its actions.

“Dear @Lowes, we got over 21k signatures standing up against ur poor decision,” he tweeted on Dec. 13. “Do right thing: apologize & put $ back in #AllAmericanMuslim.”

And we’re sure that Simmons was happy to learn that Lowe’s recently issued an apology to those offended by their actions.

“As you know, the TLC program “All-American Muslim” has become a lightning rod for people to voice complaints from a variety of perspectives – political, social and otherwise. Following this development, dozens of companies removed their advertising from the program beginning in late November. Lowe’s made the decision to discontinue our advertising on Dec. 5. As we shared yesterday, we have a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion, and we’re proud of that longstanding commitment. If we have made anyone question that commitment, we apologize,” said Lowe’s.

Well, kudos to Simmons for getting involved in the situation and making sure that Lowe’s apologized. And like Simmons’ pro-Muslim cause, here are six other noteworthy political hip-hop causes in recent times. –nicholas robinson

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  • UncleChuck2

    “I don’t watch reality television,” David Caton, president of Florida Family’s Association