The Muslim families in All-American Muslim are being allowed to make choices that don’t exist in the Muslim world, and rather than embracing their new freedom, the show defaults to promoting a submission to Islam through the Hijab and the Shahada. And there’s nothing American about that.
Behind the scenes, All-American Muslim is a programmed deception, like most Reality TV, but the motivation is different. The show presents Shadia Amen, who marries Jeff, as more liberated because she doesn’t wear a Hijab, unlike her more devout sister, but in an interview she admitted that “I wore a scarf for 13 years. I took it off because if I’m going to represent my religion, I want people to get the right image.”
All-American Muslim pretends that Shadia and her sister represent two approaches to Islam, but in reality they represent the same approach: deception. Both sisters wear their badge of slavery, but one takes it off when it’s time to present “the right image.”
The “right image” is what All-American Muslim is about. It’s not a reality show, it’s a compulsive exercise in spin and branding. Like a corporation that most people only know for dumping toxic waste in the ocean and poisoning the elderly, Islam constantly needs rebranding and makeovers. But the spin is just the opening to promoting it and its abusive practices.
All-American Muslim finds numerous ways to promote the Hijab, even connecting the practice in a positive way to the brutal Islamic takeover of Iran. It emphasizes how easy it is to convert to Islam without telling you the consequences of leaving. But its worst deception is lying to Americans about the consequences of Islam in their community.
When Fouad Zaban, a local high school football coach, switches the team to night practice in order to accommodate the Ramadan fast, there’s no discussion about the separation of mosque and state, or how far this species of accommodation will go. In all its scenes of Muslims running businesses, working out or shopping for clothes, the lesson we are supposed to take away is that we have nothing to worry about because they are ordinary people just like us. But the issue is not about Muslims. It is about Islam.
There was a time when Discovery Communications broadcast educational programming. Today TLC features Sister Wives, Kate Plus 8 and Toddlers and Tiaras– and among all their shows that try to make Americans seem as freaky as possible, there is All-American Muslims, a show that tries to make a religion which believes in world domination and the inferiority of women, seem normal.
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