Lowe's Muslim Publicity Gaffe Serves as Case Study of What Not to Do

The Florida Family Association (FFA), whose website states its mission as to “educate people on what they can do to defend, protect and promote traditional, biblical values,” mounted a campaign to convince corporate advertisers to stop advertising on TLC’s reality show “All-American Muslim.” Lowe’s and kayak.com were the only advertisersout of 65 that FFA targetedthat caved in, according to numerous news sources.

On its website, FFA charges that “the show profiles only Muslims that appear to be ordinary folks while excluding many Islamic believers whose agenda poses a clear and present danger to liberties and traditional values that the majority of Americans cherish.”

After pulling its advertising, Lowe’s remained silent for several days as public outrage regarding its decision increased. Lowe’s then publicly explained its decision in a Facebook post on Saturday, saying: “Individuals and groups have strong political and societal views on this topic, and this program became a lighting [sic] rod for many of those views We believe it is best to respectfully defer to communities, individuals and groups to discuss and consider such issues of importance.”

Unfortunately for Lowe’s, the equivocating Facebook comment received more than 28,000 commentsmost of them bigoted, anti-Muslim statements or statements supporting the show.

Shortly after Lowe’s posted its original Facebook comment and allowed the hateful responses to remain on its Facebook page, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) asked the company to address the furor and to have a meeting with CAIR leaders. Lowe’s did not respond.

Ibrahim Hooper, CAIR’s national communications director, said in a statement: “If Lowe’s was concerned about spreading hate speech, you would think that they would filter and delete the worst [comments]. It’s hard to tell if leaving them up is intentional or not.” CAIR first sent Lowe’s CEO Robert Niblock a letter Monday, noting the “tremendous controversy” that has been caused by its decisions.

Lowe’s finally took down the offensive comments Wednesday and promised to monitor its page more. Lowe’s posted this apology: “We wanted to get back to you about our last post and the comments that followed. For several days, our Facebook page has become a forum of debate surrounding a TLC programand to let us know how you feel. Many of the comments are specifically about Lowe’s advertising decision many more are about broader political and social issues. Some of the comments have been sharp and disrespectful in tone, but out of respect for the transparency of social media, we let the debate continue. However, we have seen a large volume of comments become more pointed and hateful. As a result, we have taken the step of removing all previous posts and will more tightly filter future comments on this topic. You will be able to respond to this post, but in the spirit of social media, please keep your comments on this Facebook page respectful. We appreciate your understanding. Again, we offer our sincere apology to anyone offended by our advertising business decision or posts on this page.”

As of Thursday morning, more than 4,000 new comments were posted, the majority of them offensive to Muslims.

What Went Wrong

Lowe’s claims a commitment to diversity and inclusion, stating: “We have a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion, across our workforce and our customers, and we’re proud of that longstanding commitment.” This must be viewed in light of what we can find on its website.

There is no mention of diversity on the Lowe’s homepage, and a search for “diversity” yields no results. Clicking on the “About Lowe’s” link on the homepage returns no information on diversity, and “diversity” does not appear in the corporate-citizenship, corporate-overview or media areas of their website. A search for the word “diversity” in that area also returns no responses. In the careers area, there are three paragraphs describing a “commitment” to diversity in the broadest and least specific ways. No goals, including any on supplier diversity, are mentioned, and there is no quote about diversity from their CEO.

Lowe’s has not participated in The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity survey in the past nine years.

When asked for comment, Lowe’s responded to DiversityInc similarly to what it stated on Facebook. Additionally, Lowe’s said:”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 December 5.” DiversityInc cannot find evidence of “dozens of companies” canceling advertising.

In our opinion, by having no demonstrable understanding of diversity management practices and no stated clarity on its own values, Lowe’s was incapable of making good decisions. By bending to a hate group (the Florida Family Association), Lowe’s became their ally. It’s very difficult to escape repercussions of that kind of association, as Lowe’s learned when allied haters posted thousands of hate-filled comments on its Facebook page. In a misguided attempt to “respect the transparency of social media,” it abdicated its moral responsibility and offended millions of peopleboth Muslim and non-Muslim.

DiversityInc has two resources that lend clarity to this situation: DiversityInc CEO Luke Visconti’s column “Decision Making, Clarity of Values & What Happens When It Goes Horribly Wrong” and a recent DiversityInc panel with two leading experts, “Muslims & Stereotypes: Do They Really Hate Us

What are others saying

Many commentators, civil-rights groups and elected officials also are urging Lowe’s to take more action. Here is what they are saying:

Lowe’s Criticized After Fleeing Muslim Reality Show

The first Muslim elected to Congress, Rep.Keith Ellison, condemns Lowe’s for caving to anti-Muslim groups in this Chicago Tribune story.

Conyers Says Lowe’s Has ‘Un-American Values’

Rep. John Conyers, who represents the Dearborn community where the series is filmed, expresses his disappointment in Lowe’s.

Video: CAIR Director on Lowe’s ‘All-American Muslim’ Controversy

CAIR’s director tells Channel 9 News Now that Lowe’s decision to pull advertising makes way for Muslim hatred to grow among Americans.

25 Dumbest Comments On Lowe’s Facebook Page About “All-American Muslim”

Buzzfeed.com provides examples of the absurd bigotry that plagued comments on Lowe’s original Facebook post.

Muslims, Supporters Mobilize Against Lowes For TLC Ad Pull

MuslimMatters.org reports on the creation of the #LowesHatesMuslims hashtag on Twitter and ongoing commentary against Lowe’s decision on Twitter.

Don’t Cave to Anti-Muslim Bullies

This is an online petition form to tell Lowe’s CEO to reinstate the ads on “All-American Muslim.”

Lowe’s in Facebook Hell as Racist Comments Pile Up

Adweek reports on the Facebook controversy, providing a handful of examples of the anti-Muslim comments.

Americans Should Know to Boycott Bigotry

An online opinion column for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette discusses Americans’ “cultural amnesia” toward Muslims and their contributions to modern society.

Russell Simmons Buys ‘All-American Muslim’ Ad Time Abandoned by Lowe’s

Metrotimes’ blog post discusses how the hip-hop mogul bought up Lowe’s space and is calling for a boycott of the company.

Protest Lowe’s Anti-Muslim Bigotry in Gaithersburg, MD

A Facebook event is being held to rally Lowe’s protesters Sunday in one Maryland town.

Lowe’s Faces Backlash Over Pulling Ads From ‘All-American Muslim’

The Los Angeles Times reports that California Sen.Ted Lieuurged Lowe’s to reverse its “bigoted” and “un-American” decision and actressMia Farrow urged a boycott of Lowe’s via Twitter.

Latest News


AT&T Celebrates the Aspire Accelerator Class of 2020

Originally published on ATT.com Immersed Games and Social Cipher win annual “Pitches with Purpose” competition; each receive $25K award Yesterday, eight education technology companies graduated from the Aspire Accelerator and competed in an all-virtual “Shark Tank” style “Pitches with Purpose” for two $25,000 prizes – one awarded by a panel…

NelsonHall Recognizes ADP as a Leader in the Efficiency Focused NEAT Graph for Cloud-Based HR Transformation Services 2020 Evaluation

Originally published on ADP.com ADP acknowledged for improving processes, lowering costs and providing better decision-making driven by analytics and automation for clients Industry analyst firm NelsonHall has positioned ADP as a Leader in its Efficiency Focused NEAT chart for Cloud-Based HR Transformation Services. ADP rated highly for its ability to…


Humana CEO Bruce Broussard Named Businessperson of the Year

Originally posted on Humana LinkedIn. Humana ranked No. 25 for The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2020. We’d like to congratulate CEO Bruce Broussard on being named one of Fortune‘s 2020 Businesspersons of the Year. “Since being named CEO of the health insurer in 2013, Broussard has continued Humana’s push into…

Child studying to improve test scores

Test Scores Drop Dramatically for Black, Hispanic and Poor Children Due to COVID-19; Nasdaq Moves to Require Diversity for Listed Companies; and More

Math and reading test scores have dropped dramatically for Black, Hispanic and poor children due to COVID-19, new study warns. Results of lockdowns, home-schooling, and Zoom classrooms as a result of COVID-19 are starting to come in, and the numbers aren’t good. According to a review of more than 4…


The Platinum Plan: How Trump Increased His Black Vote by 50% and What We Can Learn From It

Do you know what Donald Trump’s “Platinum Plan” was? Most Black people I know do. Most white people have never heard of it. The plan — a two-page document released just weeks before the 2020 election — details the four pillars of Trump’s commitment to Black Americans (Opportunity, Security, Prosperity…

HIV, AIDS, Misconception

Fact Check: Misconceptions About HIV/AIDS

Similar to the coronavirus and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic throughout 2020, many of the misconceptions and stigma surrounding HIV and AIDS have been fueled by fear. Although information surrounding the disease is more accessible now that we’re months into the pandemic, many people still misunderstand the condition, the treatment options,…

President-elect Joe Biden with senior adviser Symone Sanders

Biden and Harris Announce All-Female White House Communications Team; After 9 Long Months, COVID-19 Hits New Peak; and More

Biden and Harris announce entirely female-led White House communications team. President-elect Joe Biden’s transition to the White House continues at a brisk pace. On Monday, Nov. 30th, Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris received their first daily Presidential intelligence briefings. A day earlier, CBS News has reported that the pair…

BASF Introduces Neutrol® MGDA, a Readily Biodegradable Complexing Agent for Personal Care Applications

Originally published on BASF.com. BASF ranked No. 14 on The Diversityinc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2020. Highly stable over a wide pH range Eco-friendly and easy to formulate With Neutrol® MGDA, BASF’s Care Creations® is launching a highly stable, eco-friendly complexing agent (also called: chelating agent) for personal care applications….

Abbott Launches the First Infant Formula in Canada with an Ingredient Identical in Structure to Immune Component Found in Breast Milk

Originally published on Abbott.com. Abbott ranked No. 8 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2020. 2′-Fucosyllactose Oligosaccharide†(2′-FL†) is now available in Abbott’s infant formula, Similac Pro-Advance® HMOs, like 2′-FL, in breast milk help support a baby’s immune system [1] HMOs, like 2′-FL, feed good bacteria in the…