Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Islamophobia: Mainstream Hate

The proposed construction of a Muslim community center two long blocks away from ground zero has exposed and unleashed a rabid new wave of anti-Muslim hatred. Without doubt, the opposition to the mosque is rooted in prejudice and hate. Essentially, the opposition views all Muslims as terrorists or potential terrorists. That is primary reason why they oppose building a mosque near ground zero.

The opposition to building mosques is not confined to the area near ground zero. For instance, as noted in the New York Times article by Laurie Goodstein titled Across the Nation, Mosque Projects Meet Opposition,

In Murfreesboro, Tenn., Republican candidates have denounced plans for a large Muslim center proposed near a subdivision, and hundreds of protesters have turned out for a march and a county meeting.

In late June, in Temecula, Calif., members of a local Tea Party group took dogs and picket signs to Friday prayers at a mosque that is seeking to build a new worship center on a vacant lot nearby.

In Sheboygan, Wis., a few Christian ministers led a noisy fight against a Muslim group that sought permission to open a mosque in a former health food store bought by a Muslim doctor.

In addition to protests against the building of mosques, there are other examples of anti-Muslim hatred. For example, one church plans to hold a Quran burning ceremony on September 11, 2010. Moreover, as pointed out on the Rachel Maddow Show, the hate group Society of Americans for National Existence (SANE) seeks to outlaw Islam in America.

This hatred is also reflected in polls. According to TIME magazine’s poll,

61% of respondents oppose the construction of the Park51/Cordoba House project, compared with 26% who support it. More than 70% concur with the premise that proceeding with the plan would be an insult to the victims of the attacks on the World Trade Center. Twenty-eight percent of voters do not believe Muslims should be eligible to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court. Nearly one-third of the country thinks adherents of Islam should be barred from running for President....

The discussion centering around President Obama’s faith is another example of anti-Muslim hatred. Many view being a Muslim as a blot on one's character. For instance, President Obama has been forced to repeatedly explain that he is a Christian and not a Muslim. Nonetheless, many Americans remain unconvinced. Shortly after the President voiced support for building a mosque near ground zero, the Pew Research Center released the results of a national survey. According to the survey,

[N]early one-in-five Americans (18%) now say Obama is a Muslim, up from 11% in March 2009. Only about one-third of adults (34%) say Obama is a Christian, down sharply from 48% in 2009. Fully 43% say they do not know what Obama’s religion is. The survey was completed in early August, before Obama’s recent comments about the proposed construction of a mosque near the site of the former World Trade Center. The view that Obama is a Muslim is more widespread among his political opponents than among his backers. Roughly a third of conservative Republicans (34%) say Obama is a Muslim, as do 30% of those who disapprove of Obama’s job performance. But even among many of his supporters and allies, less than half now say Obama is a Christian. Among Democrats, for instance, 46% say Obama is a Christian, down from 55%in March 2009.

Frankly, as Muslim, I find this anti-Muslim trend to be frightening because it is not just coming from the lunatic fringe. Mainstream politician politicians such as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Republican Governor Sarah Palin and Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Lazio joined the hateful chorus. Newt Gingrich compared Muslims to Nazis. Some hypocritical politicians like Republican New York gubernatorial candidate Rick Lazio are actually pimping the 9/11 tragedy to score political points. Under pressure from the anti-Muslim right, feeble Democrats such as U.S. Senator Harry Reid and former Democratic Party Chair Howard Dean have capitulated and now oppose the building of the Muslim community center.

It is particularly disturbing to see victims of discrimination embrace this new form of antisemitism. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has a long and distinguished history of fighting discrimination. Yet, ADL issued a press statement opposing construction of the Muslim community center. I was shocked to learn that even some prominent black bloggers have jumped on the hate Muslims bandwagon.

It is time to stop the hate.


  1. thank you for spreading the word about this serious issue. people need to wake up about the hate being spread, and those spreading it need to OWN IT and take responsibility for the consequences.

    either you believe in the Constitution or you do not. the Constitution of this country protects ALL-period. TOO many folks died to ensure that it does.

  2. Thanks, rikyrah for your comment. I am a big fan of your work on Jack & Jill Politics!