Kayak

Corporate Cowardice Update: Still No Response from Kayak

A few weeks ago, PFAW Foundation President Michael Keegan wrote an open letter to Kayak CEO Steve Hafner, seeking an explanation as to why the company pulled advertising from the TLC program “All-American Muslim” due to pressure from the Florida Family Association, a fringe right-wing group. Kayak’s original explanation for caving in to bigotry was equivocal at best, and PFAW Foundation had demanded a clear explanation of Kayak’s actions from Mr. Hafner.

To be fair, we didn’t give a deadline for a response. But when a company’s commitment to some basic American values – freedom of religion and equality for all – are called into question, sooner is better than later.

PFAW

An Open Letter to Kayak CEO Steve Hafner

When a fringe right-wing group complained that the TLC show “All-American Muslim” portrayed Muslim people in a positive light, a few prominent business made the unfortunate decision to cave to advocates of intolerance. People For the American Way Foundation is standing with those who support religious liberty. After helping to organize a demonstration at Lowe’s in Dearborn, MI, PFAW Foundation President Michael Keegan has released an open letter to the CEO of Kayak, demanding an explanation for his company’s actions.

An Open Letter to Kayak CEO Steve Hafner

Dear Mr. Hafner:

I am writing to express my deep concern about Kayak's decision to pull advertising from the TLC program "All-American Muslim" in the wake of complaints from a far-right anti-Muslim group that resented the program's portrayal of Muslims as ordinary people facing ordinary challenges. We were also baffled by Kayak's responses to questions about the reasoning behind your decision to pull the ads.

To anyone who respects diversity, the Florida Family Association's insistence that "All-American Muslim" should be boycotted because it portrays "Muslims as ordinary folks just like you and me," instead of as fanatics and terrorists, reeks of bigotry. Your decision to pull advertising from the show following these complaints is extremely troubling.

Kayak's explanations for its actions have only furthered our concerns. Robert Birge, your Chief Marketing Officer, claimed that TLC withheld information about the program that would have changed your view that "All-American Muslim" is a show about a "worthy topic." We fail to understand why, had you been provided a more comprehensive description of the program, you would have come to the conclusion that a show depicting American Muslims as normal citizens rather than as terrorists was an inappropriate programming for your advertising. What information about the show was withheld? In what way is a show about ordinary, non-stereotypical Muslims troubling?

In the New York Times, Mr. Birge claimed that TLC pitched "All-American Muslim" as a "fair and balanced look at the life of an American Muslim," but that the channel failed to disclose the "pre-existing controversy surrounding race, religion and specifically the divide between the Muslim and Christian communities in Dearborn, Mich." What controversy are you referring to? Is the manufactured controversy of fringe activists like David Canton and the FFA enough to cause you to drop your advertising? We hope that you had researched Mr. Canton and the Florida Family Association prior to catering to his demands.

Buckling to the pressure of anti-Muslim extremists is extraordinarily offensive not only to Muslims, but to all Americans who value the diversity of our society and the freedom of religion enshrined in our Constitution. You insist that Kayak was not swayed by the bigotry of anti-Muslim groups, but haven't provided any other credible reason for dropping your support of the show. We firmly believe that one cannot be committed to diversity while claiming that merely portraying diversity can be unacceptably controversial.

The American people deserve a much fuller explanation of your actions.

Sincerely,

Michael Keegan

President, People For the American Way Foundation

PFAW