Islamophobia Is As American As Apple Pie

Here we go again with a new round of bombings and missile strikes in the Middle East. More of a chance for our anti-Islamic bent in America to be watered.

We simply have an easier time making the decision to drop bombs on Muslim countries than we do any other. Of course we justify that with our belief that Muslims are out to get us. Not some Muslims, which would be a more accurate way of looking at that. No, we use a wider brush and paint everyone who practices the religion of Islam as radical militants.

This Islamophobia, which is defined by Wikipedia as a term for "prejudice against, hatred towards, or fear of Muslims or of ethnic groups perceived to be Muslim," is the general attitude of Americans. One sad aspect of it all is that many people attach pride to this unfair discrimination. It is why the worst charge opponents can lob at President Obama is that he is a closet Muslim, as if that is the greatest sin he could commit. For that to be such an open charge speaks volumes to how we feel about Muslims. The charge is thrown out there like he is being called a pedophile or murderer. So much for freedom of religion.

One Oklahoma State Representative, John Bennett (R) has proudly proclaimed at many rallies, and repeated again this week, his belief that Islam is not even a religion. Here is what he said in one interview a few days ago regarding Islam:

“It's a social political system that uses a deity to advance its agenda of global conquest. That's exactly what ISIS is doing now, and people that follow Islam are and will do the same thing."

In a rally not long ago in Oklahoma he said this:

“More than 90 percent of the Quran is about violence and the violence necessary to overtake non-believers...Their goal is the destruction of Western civilization from within...Muslims have worked their way into the government at every level. Their teachings give them permission to lie to unbelievers to gain their trust...”

If he isn’t the walking definition of anti-Islam then who is? But he is not the only one. In survey after survey, by Pew, Gallup and others, the trend in America toward a negative view of Islam and Muslims continues to get higher and higher. The Arab American Institute released the results of one poll just a couple of months ago that showed favorable attitudes regarding Arab-Americans and American Muslims have declined from 35% in 2010 to 27% in 2014.That means about 73% of Americans did not have a favorable opinion. That’s incredible.

Of course incidents like the Boston Marathon bombing and the ISIS beheading videos don’t help. But the ease with which we expand the actions of extremists to a whole religion and to the many millions of other Muslims is scary. Imagine if it was a Christian-affiliated faction that was perpetrating the same crimes as ISIS - would we then be calling every Christian a potential terrorist?

I’m not sure how we'll be able to remedy this deep-rooted prejudice that has been so publicly accepted and espoused. What I do know is this: that as much as we blame Islam and Muslims for their hatred of America, we also need to take a critical view of our own attitudes and actions as a nation to see how our misperceptions are negatively affecting us as a community.


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