David Caton and the Florida Family Association

David Caton and the Florida Family Association

by Sheila Musaji

This group recently came to the attention of the American Muslim community when they initiated a letter writing campaign to attempt to get advertisers to boycott the “All-American Muslim” television program.  As I wrote in an article documenting the background of this incident

The Florida Family Association began this whole effort, and were quickly joined by a veritable who’s who of the Islamophobia network.  Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer, Debbie Schlussel, Sheikh Yermami, etc. all jumped in and amplified their bigoted message. 

The FFA is very anti-everyone not like themselves.  Based on their past efforts, it is obvious that the FFA hates gays as much as it hates Muslims - and they focus a great deal of effort on attempting to marginalize these groups - they are cowards after all and are going after the two groups that are already the most marginalized - “easy targets”.   As Arsalan Iftikhar said Muslims are now treated as “the proverbial bogeyman” in America, he says. Citing a Pew study, Iftikhar says that the most despised groups in America are now gays and Muslims.

A group called the Florida Family Association (FFA), initiated an advertiser boycott against what it describes as a “propaganda show,” contacting companies whose commercials appear during the broadcast and asking them to quit.  This was an attempt to force the program off the air.  So far, the organization claims, nearly 20 companies have agreed to pull their ads from the series at their urging.  **  The FFA website provided a “click here” easy action form to do this.

David Caton of FFA posted an article saying that they were responsible for over 700,000 emails collectively sent to all advertisers on the show.  In this article he has the nerve to say We have NOTHING against Muslims.  We just want to make sure that only American laws are enforced in America and that Islamic code or Sharia law does NOT change our way of life or diminish our liberty.   Mr. Caton obviously has not read the Constitution of the United States which already has such provisions. Note:  Caton is now [url=http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2011/12/21/2865056/lowes-stands-by-decision-to-pull.html]claiming over 1 million emails sent.

This email campaign is a lesson in the power of a very small group to create what seems like a much larger response than it really is.  Even if we take Caton’s claim of 1,000,000 emails sent out at face value, that number could have been generated by only 15,384 or fewer.  They provided a link that allowed you to click once and send out letters to all the companies they were targeting.  If that was 65 companies as they claim, then 15,384 people each sending 65 emails with one click could equal 1,000,000 emails.  FFA actually sent out the emails in waves and had four separate action alerts to all of the people on their email list.  Anyone sending out one of their letters automatically gets on their email list to be notified of the next letter writing campaign.  This means that it is possible that one individual sending letters in each of the 4 campaigns could have generated 260 letters.  This also means that it is possible that this huge volume of emails could have been generated by as few as 3,846 individuals. 

This effort by the FFA of course was touted on numerous Islamophobic sites who also encouraged their readers to join this effort and contact the advertisers.  Here is the form letter that the FFA prepared to be sent out to advertisers:

The Learning Channel’s new 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 show profiles only Muslims that appear to be ordinary folks while excluding many Islamic believers whose agenda poses a clear and present danger to the liberties and traditional values that the majority of Americans cherish.

One of the most troubling scenes occurred at the introduction of the program when a Muslim police officer stated “I really am American.  No ifs and or buts about it.”  This scene would appear to be damage control for the Dearborn Police who have arrested numerous Christians including several former Muslims for peacefully preaching Christianity.

Many situations were profiled in the show from a Muslim tolerant perspective while avoiding the perspective that would have created Muslim conflict thereby contradicting The Learning Channel’s agenda to inaccurately portray Muslims in America.  Clearly this program is attempting to manipulate Americans into ignoring the threat of jihad and to influence them to believe that being concerned about the jihad threat would somehow victimize these nice people in this show.  I encourage you to stop supporting this show with your advertising dollars.

WHAT?  What is troubling about showing a Muslim policeman who self-identifies as an American?   Why is it “troubling” that he loves America?   Was it “controversial” that Muslims and Arabs were not portrayed as evil villains who are not “real Americans” and have no right to act as if they are normal human beings with families, mortgages, jobs, etc.?   Does every television program about any minority need to include an “appropriate” offensive bigoted stereotype?   Is there a problem with a “Muslim tolerant perspective”?  Perhaps a Muslim intolerant perspective would be more palatable to bigots.  What would be a less “inaccurate” portrayal?  Do you not realize that American Muslims are just concerned about threats to our security from extremists as anyone else?   If the Muslims in this program only “appear to be ordinary folks” does that mean that they (and all Muslims) are really something other than they appear?  Is it possible that most Muslims actually are “ordinary folks”?

Samuel G. Freedman provides a great deal of background on David Caton, the founder and director of FFA in the article A One-Man War on American Muslims.

  He discusses how Caton exemplefies a new reality, and that is that the voice of a minority, or even an individual can be amplified dramatically by use of the internet and social media.  Here are some highlights from Freedman’s article

Mr. Caton set up the Florida Family Association after having broken with the American Family Association, a more mainstream group within Christian activist circles, for reasons that remain unclear. Mr. Caton worked independently of such established groups as Florida Family Action, Focus on the Family and the Florida Baptist Convention during the 2008 campaign to amend the Florida Constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage.

“His tactics may differ from other organizations,” said Mathew Staver, the chairman of Liberty Counsel, a nonprofit law and policy organization often involved in evangelical Christian issues. “Other organizations may have similar goals but use different tactics.”     

For the first 15 years of his public life, Mr. Caton aimed almost entirely at homosexuals, whether with the high school club, the marriage amendment or gay rights measures in Tampa, Fla. He even urged Florida to fire an openly gay lawyer from the state attorney general’s office.     

Mr. Caton often used the tactic of pressuring advertisers on shows he depicted as advocating for homosexuality — “Sordid Lives,” “Degrassi High” and “Modern Family.” On the Florida Family Association Web site, he posted grandiose claims about the companies that pulled their advertising and the cable networks that canceled shows. He appears to have frequently exaggerated, but he was almost never publicly contradicted.     

Within the past two years, Mr. Caton has largely dropped the anti-gay banner in favor of a new villain: American Muslims. His concern about Sharia law partly grew out of a court decision in Tampa in which a judge allowed a mosque to settle an internal dispute according to religious law.     

But Mr. Caton’s new obsession also drew upon the heated comments of such prominent anti-Muslim activists as Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer. And it coincided with the national controversies about the “ground zero mosque” — in fact, an Islamic cultural center several blocks from ground zero — and the hearings led by Representative Peter T. King, a New York Republican, on alleged subversion by American Muslims.     

If there is any upside to the campaign against “All-American Muslim,” it is that national scrutiny has cut Mr. Caton down to size. Several major companies that he claimed had stopped advertising — Home Depot and Campbell’s Soup — issued statements saying they had done no such thing. The entertainment mogul Russell Simmons paid the Learning Channel for the advertising revenue lost from Lowe’s. Mr. Caton’s broadsides have potentially created a larger, more sympathetic audience for the very series he reviles.     

That would not be the first example of unintended consequences in his career. “We found it a good thing he brought the issue out,” Ms. Thornton, the Florida principal, recalled. “It ended up with the student population at large supporting the Gay Straight Alliance because of the attacks from outside.”     

Right Wing Watch has a backgrounder on the FFA Meet The Extremist Group Lowe’s Caved To Over ‘All-American Muslim’.  It seems that they are outraged a lot.  As Tod Kelly reports The FFA is a singularly magnificent example of this industry at work. That its “good work” reads more like an Onion article only makes their success with All-American Muslim that much more baffling. For example, other boycotts they are currently managing include Snickers and Starburst candy (for promoting homosexuality), Marvel and Disney (again, for promoting homosexuality), Campbell’s Soup (for promoting Islam), and 7-11 (for selling Playboy and therefore promoting boobies pornography).

  Here is a list of previous FFA efforts from the Right Wing Watch backgrounder

•The FFA created a highly-edited video that tries to make President Obama appear to be Muslim and derided the “extraordinarily strong bond that President Barack Obama has with Islam.”
•The group went after Campbell’s soup for boosting the “advancement of Islam and Sharia law in the United States” because the company made halal soups and sponsored a conference held by a Canadian Muslim relief organization.
•Predicting that “Islam will not sweep into America overnight though it could under the current president” as the “Islamization of America will most likely happen city by city,” the FFA launched a website to combat the purported “Islamization” of Tampa, warning that “Tampa is headed toward embracing Islam.”
•The FFA also waged a campaign against Modern Family, bragging that they convinced “107 companies to stop advertising during the ABC show Modern Family after the advertisers received thousands of emails from Florida Family Association supporters. Florida Family Association objects to Modern Family because the show labels a same-sex couple with an adopted child as a modern family and attempts to normalize homosexuality by contrasting it with heterosexual couples that the show characterizes as abnormal.”
•The organization attacked advertisers on Degrassi because the teen show included a gay, bisexual and transgender characters, calling it “salacious and irresponsible propaganda,” and also criticized Degrassi for promoting The Trevor Project, an anti-suicide group that specifically focuses on at-risk LGBT youth. “Degrassi’s targeting of children and teens with homosexual and transgender content and promotions which encourage kids to call homosexual hotlines is irresponsible,” the group wrote.
•Unsurprisingly, the FFA went after Chaz Bono’s appearance on Dancing With The Stars, saying “Chaz’s appearance on this show looks like nothing more than social engineering to mainstream extreme parts of the homosexual agenda.”
•The group helped pass a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, a ban on same-sex parents adopting children, and claimed to have sent state legislators “over 10,000 emails opposing Domestic Partnerships and legislation that promotes the homosexual lifestyle,” including legislation that would bar discrimination against people due to their sexual orientation.
•The FFA also regularly protests Gay Day at Disney World for “offending unsuspecting families,” even contracting a plane to fly over Disney with a seven foot banner reading, “WARNING GAY PRIDE DAY@DISNEY 2DAY.” They even campaigned against the AARP for starting a program aimed at older gays and lesbians, saying it promotes “special rights for immoral behavior.”