Russell Simmons is upping the ante in his battle against Lowe’s — by buying ad time for his pre-paid credit card.
Like many others, Russell Simmons was outraged after the home improvement chain pulled its ads from the TLC show “All-American Muslim” because horrible bigots from the Florida Family Association said the reality show, which follows Detroit-based Americans who are also Muslim, attempts to “manipulate Americans into ignoring the threat of jihad” and undercuts our nation’s “traditional values.”
In other words, these right wing extremists believe, like so many of their ideological peers, that the United States should be a Christian, primarily white, nation. Lowe’s response suggests to many the company feels the same way.
But Lowe’s denies it kowtowed to conservatives. Rather, they kowtowed to people from left and right alike. “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,” the company said in a statement.
“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.”
Thousands of Americans, including Simmons, fellow celebrity Mia Farrow and a number of lawmaker immediately denounced Lowe’s decision. Democratic Congressman John Conyers of Michigan demanded the company apologize, while Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, blasted Lowe’s for siding with “a fringe hate group and not the creed of the 1st Amendment” and California State Senator Ted Lieu has called for a boycott.
Simmons says he would rather not start a boycott against Lowe’s, and has instead started a petition asking retailers like Wal-Mart, Clinique and K-Mart to prove they won’t stand for Islamophobic cowardice by keeping their own commercials running on air.
Over 20,000 people have since signed the petition to show that right wing hate has no place in America, land of the free market. It is a commercial crusade in every way, and Simmons is leading the fight.
The Hollywood reporter confirmed last night that Simmons, a music and fashion mogul worth an estimated $340 million, is trying trying to snatch up the rest of the available “All-American Muslim” ads to promote the RushCard, a pre-paid credit card he created with Visa.
It’s not the most noble of advertisements — wouldn’t a spot for his non-profit, The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, have been more fitting? — and his decision again raises doubts about Occupy-supporter Simmons’ commitment to the 99%, but it’s better than nothing, and certainly better than Lowe’s.
Simmons, however, appears to be having some trouble.
Though he tweeted yesterday that he had “purchased remaining spots for #allamericanmuslim for next week,” and “the show is now sold out,” he later had to backtrack a bit. Apparently long term advertisers agree with his position: there’s no reason to pull their ads from the show, even if some backward Floridians are upset.
“I’m trying to buy ads during #AllAmericanMuslim airing this Sunday, but now they are saying they are sold out. I will keep trying…” said Simmons.
Maybe he won’t have to keep trying — the ad buy mission appears (for now) to be a success. “All-American Muslim” has sold its advertising spots, and TLC can revel in the fact that the new show will pay off. The controversy only elevated the show’s profile, which in turn elevates the Discovery-owned cable channel’s profits. Almost everyone wins. Except for Lowe’s, which continues to look, as Senator Liu said, “bigoted, shameful, and un-American.”
Image via Shutterstock.