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Butterball's Halal Turkeys and Lowe's Wise Corporate Choice

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Muslim activists are calling Lowe’s decision to pull sponsorship of the TLC television series “All-American Muslim” ads bigotry. Butterball angered many Americans when customer service agents confirmed that all Thanksgiving turkeys had been slaughtered according to halal methods. What is an American corporation to do in response to America’s competing cultural conflicts? Does America have a culture to which companies should be expected to conform?

At the heart of the matter is whether America still recognizes a core culture - or if catering to multiculturalism has rendered impotent America’s ability to define its own identity. Long known as a “melting pot,” America has an exemplary record of assimilating immigrants. But that was before we decided to deconstruct the pot and just melt.

First consider the predicament of Butterball. The company got into trouble when front-line agents answering customer service lines claimed that all whole turkeys sold in America for Thanksgiving were prepared for market by using Muslim codified “halal methods.” Whether Butterball was responding to pressure from a group that constitutes less than 3 percent of the population or the vague statement was mere political correctness, the fact is that the episode ended with this unequivocal statement from the corporate office’s public relations firm: “Our domestic products are not halal certified. Rather, a segment of Butterball’s products for export to specific countries follow the USDA guidelines for halal products and are subsequently labeled and certified as halal.”

The news that Americans were concerned, then alarmed, then angry seemed to baffle Butterball operators. The “teachable moment” here should be that the indignation many feel over this event rises not from bigotry, but from a growing frustration with companies and agencies that acquiesce to the demands of activist organizations working to limit the choices of individual Americans. The politically aggressive contingent of Islamists that agitate for such symbolic accommodations is responsible for putting a growing number of Americans on alert.

When it comes to the traditional Thanksgiving dinner - or any meal for that matter - Americans would prefer to invoke God’s blessing or no blessing at all over the family meal rather than know that all meat purchased had a perfunctory "Bismillahi Allahu Akbar" (“In the name of Allah, Allah is great”) chanted over it.

Furthermore, the ritual slaughter methods have generated great controversy in the European Union and United Kingdom since official Muslim halal certifiers have declared that the humane act of stunning the animal before letting it bleed out is not halal-compliant. Several countries technically prohibit slaughter without stunning but this issue is becoming a lesser concern than dealing with mass, ritualistic home-based animal slaughter and hygienic disposal of carcasses at the time of ceremonial feasting. In some municipalities, taxpayers are footing the bill for slaughterhouses, and refrigerated trucks have been offered to mollify Muslims who hold to the traditional home-slaughter rituals.

These slaughter controversies stem from sharia legal and social codes that are understood to regulate all parts of a strict Muslim’s life. Where sharia rules demand accommodations from liberty-loving Americans there must be a full public debate and defense of hard-won individual liberty and constitutional values. As shown in a recent survey of likely voters, Americans are now demonstrating a keen awareness of the potential conflict; more than 75 percent of those polled were opposed to the application of sharia or Muslim custom codes in American courts.

Lowe’s adopted a wise approach when it decided to withdraw advertising support from the propagandized “All-American Muslim” series. As a private company free to support the entire spectrum of messages that dramas present, Lowe’s considered the “strong political and societal views on this topic” and noted that the program “became a lightning rod for many of those views." And so it decided “to respectfully defer to communities, individuals and groups to discuss and consider such issues of importance." American Muslim Dr. Zuhdi Jasser defended Lowe’s against the charges of bigotry and called the ostensible Muslim reality show one that “anesthetizes Americans to some of the true issues that we fight from a radicalism and terrorism point.”

Europe and Britain have learned the bitter lesson that the enlightenment ideas of tolerance and generosity are easily perverted when they are uncritically bestowed on those who would use the license to colonize a counterculture. They have also learned that the enlightenment values do not win out in this contest of cultures unless they are vigorously championed. Europe has now defaulted to separatist sharia subcultures rooted within their communities as bastions of gender discrimination and mind control. Unfortunately, the champions of the enlightenment were too few and too timid to make a convincing stand before they were overwhelmed.

At Christmastime in America, we must work to promote the customs and traditions upon which our culture is based. It is important to teach that beyond American identity there is an American creed: our Declaration of Independence. Forever we will be thankful to Nature’s God for our inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

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