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Islamophobia Makes a Comeback

Sandeep Singh was dragged 30 feet under a pick-up truck after the driver reportedly called him a terrorist, told him to go back to his country, and then mowed him down in the middle of 99th Street in New York City.

Singh survived the ordeal, but he’s going to need skin grafts. He told police what happened and now Joseph Caleca of Long Island is charged [1] with a hate crime. “I was attacked because I am a Sikh and because I look like a Sikh,” Singh, 29, told reporters from his hospital bed. “We need to create a world without hate.”

Thirteen years ago in the wake of 9/11, there were hundreds of similar incidents [2] of violence and discrimination against Sikhs, who despite being Indians practicing Sikhism, were often confused with Arab Muslims because of their long beards and their turbans, called dastars.

But what happened to Singh didn’t take place in 2001, it was just a month ago, in August, indicating that no matter how far America gets away from the horrific events of 9/11, anger and prejudice against the perceived “enemy among us”—call it Islamophobia—is still just around the corner.

“Yes, anti-Muslim and anti-Arab sentiment is as alive today as it was in 2001,” declared Deepa Kumar, associate professor of media studies at Rutgers University, and author of Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire [3](2012).

Kumar and other experts in cultural politics and media tell TAC that it began after the attacks, when the so-called Global War on Terror muddied then-President George W. Bush’s words [4] that this was “not a war against the Muslim faith,” by initiating widespread surveillance of Muslim communities, profiling of Arab and Muslim people and infiltrating their activities [5], even entrapment, [6] all which the American Civil Liberties Union says continue to this day [7].

These law enforcement activities, combined with the hot rhetoric of far-right politicians, and the assistance of a growing cottage industry of self-appointed jihad hunters like Robert Spencer [8], Pamela Geller [9], and Frank Gaffney [10], has fanned the fear and intolerance among the American populace, critics say.

“After 9/11, people had questions but it was the people who provided the answers who created the problem—from the president on down,” said James Zogby, founder and president of the American Arab Institute.

“It started with they hate us for our values. He might have justified this by saying it was only a small minority of the Muslim world, but in people’s minds it was everybody (in the Muslim faith)” said Zogby, who published [11] Arab Voices: What They Are Saying to Us and Why It Matters [12] in 2012.

Match that cultural disconnect with a parade of new “terrorism” experts on cable news ratcheting up the threats to “the homeland,” including the possibility of sleeper cells lying in wait just over the nation’s borders, and suddenly everyone bearing a Middle Eastern name, wearing a hijab, or attending a mosque becomes suspect.

“There is a hatred of Muslims, there’s this idea that they are evil people,” mostly because, despite all the superficial talk to the contrary, no one in the media or even elite academia has really learned what the religion is all about, said Stephen Suleyman Schwartz, a writer and converted Sunni Muslim who now runs the Center for Islamic Pluralism [13], dedicated to giving voice to moderate Muslims, on the West Coast.

Schwartz is an arch critic of Wahhabism [14]—a highly puritanical movement of Islam practiced by the 19 hijackers on 9/11—and believes it is both ignorance, and the reluctance of moderate Muslims to speak out against fellow Muslims, that have generated intolerance and hatred. “People come up to me on the street and say what’s the problem with Islam? What’s the problem with this religion?”

“I say (ISIS/Islamic State) is a radical wing—and this hasn’t always existed in Islam.” Fight ISIS, but leave the rest of the Muslim world alone.

The message, so far, just isn’t getting through.

According to Zogby’s Arab American Institute, which has been polling [15] Americans on their views of religious and ethnic groups since the 1990’s, Americans’ dislike of Arabs and Muslims skyrocketed after 9/11 and has hardly budged since. Unfavorable ratings for Muslims have declined from a peak of 55 percent in 2010 to 45 percent in July, but at the same time, favorable ratings have plunged, from 41 percent in 2012 to 27 percent in 2014.

Republican attitudes are clearly skewing the results. When narrowed, 63 percent of Republicans had unfavorable views of Muslims, while only 21 percent had favorable views in 2014.

It’s not surprising, considering how Islamophobia has attached itself to Republican politics since 9/11. Any stroll through the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) will attest to that [16] (though, ironically, CPAC itself was once accused [17] of hosting a Muslim Brotherhood sympathizer—Grover Norquist, to be exact). Between Newt Gingrich [18] comparing the “the struggle against radical Islamists” to the American Revolution, to presidential wannabe Herman Cain [19] calling for loyalty tests for administration appointees, there has been no limit to the bald political rhetoric [20] animating Capitol Hill debates and elections.

Meanwhile, well-funded fringe groups like Geller’s American Freedom Defense Initiative [21], have attempted to purge Muslim-Americans who have dared to “infiltrate” [22] the White House and other high profile positions throughout federal government. They might have gone too far in 2012, however, when they suggested [23] long-time Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin had connections with the Muslim Brotherhood.

But outside Washington, American-based Islamophobia has splattered subway walls [24] (Geller’s brainchild), and even informed international mass murderer [25] Anders Behring Breivik, according to his own writings. It’s call has been strident, peaking in 2010, when the streets of downtown Manhattan were filled with opposition [26] to the Park51 Islamic Center, which had been planned for a property two blocks from Ground Zero.

That protest was spurred, not surprisingly, by Geller and Spencer, but the message resonated so well on the right wing blogosphere and media, that it was co-opted in political campaigns hundreds of miles away, and in some cases it worked. Like with Renee Elmers, who in 2010 won a congressional seat in South Carolina after making the so- called “Ground Zero mosque” a campaign issue [27].

Zogby and others see a limit to how well Islamophobia is working in political campaigns—out of 17 campaigns where the mosque was made an issue in that 2010 season, only two actually won. Rep. Allen West [28], whose fiery anti-Islamic rhetoric is legendary [29], lost his seat in 2012.

Zogby also points out that the anti-Arab and Muslim attitudes in his polls are clearly generational and racial. The negative numbers are driven by white middle aged men, particularly evangelical Christians; the positives from African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians and people under 30. They are “locked in,” however, which means there’s not much movement either way, and no one seems to be debating the issue either. “There are these defined groups and they have their defined attitudes,” said Zogby. “That’s the tragedy of it, there needs to be public discourse.”

And it needs to start with someone on the right wing saying, “we need to cut this out,” Zogby added. This kind of admonishment coming from the left just won’t do.

On a darker note, Kumar believes Washington has no real interest in curbing the bugaboo machine as long as its waging war in Muslim countries abroad. Plus, it’s much easier to raise the specter of fanatical militancy than to examine how our own policies in Iraq and elsewhere over the last decade may have created it, she said.

“In order to have an endless war on terror it is necessary to have an enemy that Americans fear and hate. This is how it worked during the Cold War as well,” she told TAC.

“Today, the enemy is the Muslim terrorist. And we are told constantly that this threat is everywhere and that we should therefore spend trillions of dollars to fight this enemy,” she added.  If that’s the case, expect a lot more fear-mongering back home as Obama readies for U.S airstrikes in Syria to fight the Islamic State (ISIS). Already, pop-culture figures like Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson are weighing [30] in on the cable shows, saying the U.S. needs to “convert” ISIS or “kill them.”

“In a nutshell, I think the framework that we had after 9/11—which is the U.S. is now at war with terrorists wherever they are—is the same kind of rhetoric we have today,” said Kumar. The problem is, just like 13 years ago, “terrorist” often gets conflated with “Muslim” and “Arab,” and sometimes “Sikh.”

“That’s what Islamophobia is,” she said, “demonizing an entire population of people.”

Kelley Beaucar Vlahos is a Washington, D.C.-based freelance reporter and TAC contributing editor. Follow her on Twitter [31].

48 Comments (Open | Close)

48 Comments To "Islamophobia Makes a Comeback"

#1 Comment By EngineerScotty On September 11, 2014 @ 1:18 am

Dreher’s combox, unfortunately, frequently fills with some rather nasty anti-Muslim bigotry.

#2 Comment By EliteCommInc. On September 11, 2014 @ 1:52 am

I don’t like phobia cards of any kind. I have only two concerns in communicating with Muslims. Their insistence that I call Mohamed, the Honorable Prophet Mohamed . . . which probably will be happening any time soon. Get used to it.

And the push for law to protect unique observances that are not related to government intrusion. This is a bit trickier minus the situations I have found myself in.

I chagrin the irrational attempts to quash Muslims. But the public is a madding crowd and fear mongering works.

#3 Comment By Jimi On September 11, 2014 @ 3:42 am

Great article. Very true.

Referring Muslims as terrorists is no different than saying that all Germans are Nazi’s or that all Russians are communists.

Unfortunately we still live in a society where hate and prejudice still linger.

People need to grow up.

#4 Comment By B.Will On September 11, 2014 @ 6:08 am

I have a wonderful friend, an Egyptian Muslim and one of the classiest ladies I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. I’ve had Muslim friends before and I can never say a harsh word against them. But I do feel that there is a glaring lack of will amongst moderate Muslims to speak out against ISIS and their ilk, and I said as much to my friend. I also went to great pains to explain that America suffers not only from a notoriously awful media establishment, especially NBC and its affiliates, but also from a tendency to paint people in broad strokes in terms of perceived morality. When by-and-large Americans don’t see Muslims generally speaking out and denouncing the monsters in their midst, it makes them look complicit.

Having traveled abroad to several places were Americans might not be considered very “welcomed” at present, I have come to realize that what conservatives, both here in America and abroad, must emphasize is the common bond of humanity that unites even the most disparate of peoples. Recognizing the worth of your fellow man, created in God’s Image as much as you or I, and realizing that men and women the world over would rather be at home with their children, or eating a wonderful meal with friends, or down at the pub watching a match with their buddies, or worshiping together, than blowing each other to Kingdom Come, is a step that Americans must take if they are to make progress in diplomacy and our efforts to engender amity and peace abroad.

#5 Comment By jimmy On September 11, 2014 @ 6:49 am

Dennis Kucinich
Liked · September 2

“We have to be aware that Western intervention had something to do with creation of ISIS. ISIS did not just magically appear in Mosul. It had been around for years, under various names, gathering resources that United States was sending into Iraq, gathering resources the US was sending into Syria. They have gamed, essentially, the US’ willingness to arm rebels in Syria, to send more arms into Iraq at a time when we think that we’re helping. Actually there’s been blowback, and it hasn’t worked out very well. My own opinion is, if we were to attack Syria we would only make ISIS stronger.” — Dennis Kucinich

#6 Comment By jimmy On September 11, 2014 @ 6:56 am

ISIS has nothing to do with Islam, if anything, they are anti-Islam. They have killed both Sunni and Shia people. They can call themselves Sunni, but the actions they have done (such as eating a soldier’s liver) comes from Hind, an enemy of Islam. If they are Sunni Muslims, why would they be constantly violating the tenets of Sunni Islam? They reject the 5 major Islamic madhhabs. I’m sure ISIS is nothing but a sadistic terrorist organisation financed by those who wants Middle-East to be corrupted and destroyed (aka: US and Israel).

#7 Comment By Harrison H. Elfrink On September 11, 2014 @ 7:32 am

As a Muslim, I say this:

Thirteen years after 9/11, the Muslim and Middle Eastern and South Asian communities in the United States is still under heavy scrutiny, by both the government and society. Within the past decade, since 9/11, perhaps longer than that, Muslim and Middle Eastern people, particularly Arabs (and if you lived in the U.S. during the early 80s’, Iranian-Americans were especially targets of jingoist furor following the 1979 revolution and Embassy seizures), are now targets of ridicule, and prejudiced. Even non-Muslim Arabs are hounded from positions of power, just ask Spencer Abraham, who was the Secretary of Energy during the George W. Bush administration, James Zogby, an Arab-American political scientist who had his office firebombed in the 1980s, and who is falsely accused of “anti-semtism” by James Syring, who is known for his anti-Arab remarks, or the Sikhs and Hindus who were murdered following 9/11, the attack on a Sikh temple and destruction of the Joplin Islamic Center two years ago.

Now, the notoriety of ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), the reported decapitations of American journalists, the attacks on Shi’ites and Sunnis outside of their favor, the attempted genocide of Yazidi Kurdish people, the Westerners, particularly American converts who join up with ISIS and threaten the American people and nation, their followers outside of Iraq cause mischief in their home countries, and threaten to commit acts of terrorism against the good and decent people.

The Khawarij are heretics who bend every concept of Islam with their dark hearts, who taint the Qur’an, and by tainting the Qur’an, they blaspheme the Prophet Muhammad (saw). They taint noble concepts such as Martyrdom, innovating their own actions, such as suicide bombing, as the “highest” sacrifice. Their actions are not only un-Islamic, but downright heresy, and apostasy. As the word Khawarij means “Those who went out (against the Rashidun).” Most of them cannot be reasoned with. You cannot expect those who attack embassies, even those of Muslim-majority countries such as Turkey, blow up shrines and mosques, they forcefully convert ethnic churches into “Preaching Centers”, or even attack and murder innocent civilians, especially women, children, elders and the sick, to be dealt with in a diplomatic manner. For them, bullets and bombs may be the only solution. The Republic of Turkey stands to gain a lot from countering and defeating ISIS, if they can get rid of their Erdogan problem. The Turks especially have an interest in protecting the image of Sunni Islam, and protecting their Turkmen and Circassian brethren in the Spirit of Turanism.

We, as Sunnis and Shi’ites, should be protectors of knowledge, humanity, and faith. We do not have to fight them up front, ourselves (in fact, I’d rather the local populations take the fight to them), but we should denounce their heresies, their insistence on a dry, completely legalistic and almost meaningless Islam, their attempts to redefine jihad and martyrdom.

If not, we bear the brunt of their attacks on us, and the chastisement of non-Muslims against us, because we let these radicals control make the image of Islam. But alas, there has been many criticism against ISIS by the consensus of the Shi’ite scholarship, as well as many Sunni Shayuk, such as Suhaib Webb, Yasir Qadhi, Hamza Yusuf, Dr. Khalid Yahya, and even the entire Al-Azhar School have denounced these gangsters

Islamophobia is a menace that comes from sensationalist journalists and agenda shapers, as well as our own communities.

#8 Comment By Anton On September 11, 2014 @ 8:28 am

Hatred of Muslims is, of course, a bad thing and I sympathise with its victims.

However, life of Muslims in the USA or anywhere in the post-Christian world is not as bad as life of Christians in Muslim countries. Anti-Christian discrimination is regarded as a normal thing in each and every Muslim country. It is a built-in feature of Islamic society.

In some Muslim countries – Iraq, for example – Christians are systematically butchered and raped under the indifferent gaze of the supposedly freedom-loving Western elites. This is genocide, but the Western world does not care much about it while paying lip service to human rights and respect for human life.

Genocide of Christians is a far bigger problem than Islamophobia, for nowhere in the Western world anyone is trying to exterminate Muslims, while extermination of Christians is on the agenda of a number of Islamist movements.

#9 Comment By Eric F On September 11, 2014 @ 9:00 am

Timely article. Note today’s date. I think the domestic body count is heavily in favor of the peace loving non-middle age white males.

#10 Comment By grumpy realist On September 11, 2014 @ 10:25 am

Anton–it seems to me that ISIS itself is trying to exterminate a heck of a lot of Muslims….

#11 Comment By Barry On September 11, 2014 @ 10:32 am

This article is a mess, the conclusions drawn are not supported by any factual evidence. Yes many Americans held and still hold unfavorable views on Islam and Muslims in general, that has not however translated into any kind of systemic persecution. Have law enforcement agencies violated the constitutional rights of many Muslims? Undoubtedly, and also, Understandably. A significant percentage of the worldwide Muslim population has declared war on the West, and as wrong as it is, the increased scrutiny of Muslims and Islamic institutions was inevitable. muslims do not walk the streets of this country in fear, there has not been a rash of anti-muslim hate crime as the article implies without actually saying due to the hard numbers not supporting that conclusion. The most you can accuse Americans of is a rise in anti-muslim sentiment, which while being unfair and wrong, is unfortunately very understandable.

#12 Comment By philadlephialawyer On September 11, 2014 @ 10:54 am

B Will:

“But I do feel that there is a glaring lack of will amongst moderate Muslims to speak out against ISIS and their ilk, and I said as much to my friend…. When by-and-large Americans don’t see Muslims generally speaking out and denouncing the monsters in their midst, it makes them look complicit.”

Folks in downtrodden groups don’t have much besides their solidarity. The US has taken sides in favor of worldwide Islam’s biggest enemy, Israel. The US has now embarked on mission after military mission of killing Muslims, bombing them, destroying their regimes, occupying their countries, etc, etc. Regardless of how you might see these actions, or whatever quibbles you might have about individual cases, that is the general view, from the perspective of most Muslims. We are doing unto them a lot more, despite all the Nine Eleven hoopla, despite all the hype about ISIS, and so on, than they are doing to us.

And so, perhaps, your friend is reluctant to “Tom it up” for your benefit. No self respecting person wants to be in the position of criticizing “one of his own” (even if they deserve it) to someone who is not only not a group member, but is a member of the oppressor group.

Moreover, your take on the issue can be seen as more or less accepting the notion of group guilt and responsibility, but only on a one way basis. Muslims have a special duty to repudiate bad Muslims. But do Americans/Christians/Westerners/supporters of Israel generally have a similar such duty? Do you feel it is on you to make it clear, at every turn, that you don’t support Bush/Cheney or Israel’s latest depredations?

“I also went to great pains to explain that America suffers not only from a notoriously awful media establishment, especially NBC and its affiliates, but also from a tendency to paint people in broad strokes in terms of perceived morality.”

Leaving aside the shot at NBC (it seems to me that Fox is clearly the worst, in regards to Islamaphobia), I’m not sure how that statement is expected to comfort your friend. Because US media is stupid and simple minded, it is the responsibility of Muslims to constantly remind Americans that they are not all of the ISIS/AQ variety? Why would that be? Maybe, instead of “explaining” our crappy media to them, we should be demanding better media for ourselves.

Finally, I just wanted to add that I agree wholeheartedly with your second paragraph, and that it applies as much to liberals, indeed, to all Americans, and all people generally, as it does to American conservatives.

#13 Comment By The Wet One On September 11, 2014 @ 11:01 am

Case in point:

[32]

The stupid. It burns. Alternatively, the ignorant prejudice of the masses. It disgusts.

#14 Comment By Richard Malcolm On September 11, 2014 @ 11:32 am

Islamophobia is a myth, a false narrative, and a psychological attack–it’s not racism, bigotry, or an irrational fear.

With that said, Sikhs haven’t done anything to anyone.

Well said.

Yes, instances of hate crimes against Muslims (or Sikhs) can be identified. They’re wrong. But they’re very few in number. Islamophobia is not a critical problem for America – not yet, any rate.

#15 Comment By Jarrad Winter On September 11, 2014 @ 12:25 pm

Re: Jimi

Referring Muslims as terrorists is no different than saying that all Germans are Nazi’s or that all Russians are communists.

That’s a wholly invalid comparison, not all Germans were Nazis. However, all Muslims are Muslims. They read the same Qur’an and swear allegiance to the same prophet. This prophet of theirs specifically said he was [33] and frequently bragged about all the infidels he and his Muslims had terrorized and slaughtered (read the Qur’an, Hadith, and Sira–it’s all right there in plain English). As such, in the context of the Nazi comparison, ISIS is most accurately compared to the Waffen-SS. And while there are certainly Muslims that aren’t terrorists, there were plenty of Nazis who never killed anyone or engaged in war. That doesn’t change the fact that they read Mein Kampf and agreed with Hitler’s genocidal ideology.

And I’d also like to point out that Muhammad was just as genocidal as Hitler…

[34] You will fight against the Jews and you will kill them until even a stone would say: Come here, Muslim, there is a Jew (hiding himself behind me); kill him.

#16 Comment By Northern Observer On September 11, 2014 @ 1:32 pm

This is all a symptom of our lack of discussion about Islam and what rights and responsibilities we should accord it in our countries. Until this is debated openly, no true reconciliation can occur between Muslims and Non Muslims.
The idea is to have all parties understand that behaviour like this is intolerable:
[35]

#17 Comment By spite On September 11, 2014 @ 1:44 pm

Barry
“A significant percentage of the worldwide Muslim population has declared war on the West”

ISIS has at best 10 000 fighters, Al Qaeda even less so. So out of a population of over billion that is 0.00001%, is that significant ?

#18 Comment By HeartRight On September 11, 2014 @ 1:53 pm

“I say (ISIS/Islamic State) is a radical wing—and this hasn’t always existed in Islam.” Fight ISIS, but leave the rest of the Muslim world alone.

Either that Muslim world coopereates fully, wholeheartedly, and without reservation with the complete removal of this radical wing – and that radical wing includes wahhabis and salafis and let’s not forget the Muslim Brotherhood- from the very face of the Earth, or it is part of the problem.

As for this ‘let them alone’ business – forget it.

HINT: There millions upon millions of eager Muslims waiting to be asked as partners in this enterprise. Most of them are called Shi’ites, but apparently they go unnoticed. as though they were some lessser breed of human being.

#19 Comment By Douglas On September 11, 2014 @ 2:45 pm

“ISIS has nothing to do with Islam, if anything, they are anti-Islam.”

This is flat-out idiotic, and there’s no other way to put it. ISIS actions such as beheadings and mutilations are [36]:

When thy Lord inspired the angels, (saying): I am with you. So make those who believe stand firm. I will throw fear into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Then smite the necks and smite of them each finger.” – Surah 8, The Spoils of War

#20 Comment By c matt On September 11, 2014 @ 2:47 pm

There is nothing good about treating Muslims badly in the US. But as far as I can tell, a Muslim is better off in America on its worse day than a Christian is in a Muslim country on its best. I have come across nothing to rebut that observation.

#21 Comment By CK On September 11, 2014 @ 3:15 pm

While it is far from the only problem with this column, Renee Elmers represents North Carolina, not South Carolina in Congress.

#22 Comment By Dennis On September 11, 2014 @ 4:05 pm

One definition of phobia is “illogical fear.” A fear of Islam isn’t irrational, however. Bigoted behavior toward Muslims may be, but dreading Islam? Seems perfectly sane to me.

But then I’m actually a theophobe, and believe, along with Hitchens, that religion poisons everything. QED

#23 Comment By RadicalCenter On September 11, 2014 @ 4:35 pm

Non-Muslims are never safe, and never free, for long after Muslims gain power in a society.

So it is logical and just to fear Islam — yes, all Islam and all Muslims, because violence against infidels is inherent in and required by Islam.

#24 Comment By Wendell Belew On September 11, 2014 @ 5:51 pm

I am surprised that the article quotes Stephen Schwartz – a nominal Muslim and noted Islamaphobe (just visit his website) – with apparent approval.

#25 Comment By redfish On September 11, 2014 @ 6:15 pm

I also went to great pains to explain that America suffers … from a tendency to paint people in broad strokes in terms of perceived morality.

If so, this article is a perfect example of that, but then so is your comment, too.

Most Americans are perfectly aware of the difference between ISIS and moderate Muslims. Its pretty patronizing to suggest they aren’t.

And people who are critical of Islam in general are not necessarily confusing the two, either… just like liberals who are critical of conservativism aren’t always comparing conservatives to fascists, or conservatives who are critical of liberalism aren’t always comparing liberals to Marxists.

But yes, our media is pretty toxic regardless, and encourages rancour, division, and a superficial engagement with issues; because reporting with depth and dispassion wouldn’t be as entertaining I suppose.

#26 Comment By San Fernando Curt On September 11, 2014 @ 6:20 pm

“We need to create a world without hate.” …Right after we create a world with less magical thinking. War, hate, pollution, disease, and cramps won’t disappear just because we hold hands and hope for bright tomorrows for children and other living things. We can’t end such stuff; it’s in us to the bone, and will never leave us. Once we recognize that, I think, we can start trying to control our dark side a little better.

#27 Comment By Ben in SoCal On September 11, 2014 @ 9:49 pm

America has never been invaded and occupied by a foreign force. Someday, decades from now, our comfortable situation will change. We have become a nation dominated by cowards, and during the difficult years, cowards melt away, they disappear.

Attacks like that on Lee Rigby will occur in our nation someday. There will be more bombings. Someday, decades from now, leftists and other fifth column lovers of Islam will themselves be persecuted (and prosecuted) for opposing the tenets of Islam; Islam is always a friendly force when it is a severe minority, but it becomes violent and persecuting once it gains majority status.

Islam is a satanic religion. Just as there were millions of good and decent Germans during the Nazi years, there are millions of good and decent people who happen to be Muslims. They need to be liberated from this sinister ideology.

Unwarranted violence against anyone is sinister. Those who commit any sort of violent actions should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. But Islam is a threat to freedom, make no mistake.

#28 Comment By Anand On September 12, 2014 @ 8:58 am

That an article like this can appear in a conservative magazine on September 11 renews my hope in my country.

Richard Malcolm
Islamophobia is not a critical problem for America- not yet, any rate.

In the sense that you mean (i.e. large numbers of hate crimes) probably not. But in the sense that it shapes a mindlessly interventionist foreign policy… I think the argument can be made.

#29 Comment By hetzer On September 12, 2014 @ 9:13 am

The overlap in people “opposed” to Islam and the people too stupid to know the difference between a Muslim and Sikh is illuminating.

#30 Comment By Richard Malcolm On September 12, 2014 @ 12:33 pm

Anand,

in the sense that it shapes a mindlessly interventionist foreign policy… I think the argument can be made.

It was mindlessly interventionist long before 9/11.

In any event, whatever else is true about Iraq and Afghanistan, it’s clearly put a heavy damper on enthusiasm for foreign wars (at least with boots on the ground) in a way that was not true a decade ago. Even among Republicans.

In any event, fears of “Islamaphobia” are badly overwrought. It’s hard to find any society that’s more tolerant and less phobic of The Other than America today.

#31 Comment By russell On September 12, 2014 @ 1:26 pm

It’s seems like a lot of people have discovered they can look up violent passages from the Kuran on Google. Care to take a stroll through Leviticus? Or how about Judges? No? Maybe 1st or 2nd Kings? How about that story of David becoming king after Saul pulled a fast one on God by keeping the cattle of the indigenous people after he killed off the men women and children.

And while we’re a taking a stroll down Out-of-Context Lane: Num 31-15 “Have you allowed all the women to live?” he [Moses] asked them. 16 “They were the ones who followed Balaam’s advice and enticed the Israelites to be unfaithful to the Lord in the Peor incident, so that a plague struck the Lord’s people. 17 Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, 18 but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept a man.

That burning sensation you feel in your cheeks because I misused a verse from your sacred book is how Muslims feel when reading threads like this.

#32 Comment By Michael North On September 12, 2014 @ 1:38 pm

I did.

#33 Comment By BenSix On September 12, 2014 @ 5:34 pm

But in the sense that it shapes a mindlessly interventionist foreign policy…

Is American foreign policy “Islamophobic”? This is a state that has allied itself with Saudi Arabia: the home of Wahhabism. This is a state that acted as if stable and at least somewhat democratic governance could spring full-born from a nation divided between Shias and Sunnis. This is a state that in recent decades armed the mujahideen under the impression that they stood for liberty. A state with far more reservations about governments and groups influenced by Islam could be a far more peaceful one than that of the United States in that it could appreciate the foolishness of attempting to reshape their countries in our image.

#34 Comment By Hetzer On September 12, 2014 @ 6:40 pm

@BenSix – American foreign policy is not Islamophobic, it is simply stupid.

However, it is sold to a segment of the American people as a crusade against the Muslim boogie man. If there wasn’t a segment of the populace that was virulently Islamophobic, there would be one less tool available to those who implement our stupid foreign policy.

#35 Comment By mannning On September 13, 2014 @ 12:50 am

There are at least four divisions of Muslims today along the following lines:
—Majority, peaceful, not given to jihad.
—Minority, peaceful but understands jihad and give jihadists tacit support.
—The few percent Jihadists, willing to fight for what they see as rightfully theirs, and to kill the infidel.
—The relatively small rogue elements typified by ISIS, that are fulltime jihadists and overly strict Islamic conformists straight from the 12th century. They practice all of the very worst to be found in the Koran, the Haddith, and their own Fatwas. They apparently number in the 60 thousands now.

I respect the majority, and hope they never think of jihad to be desirable.
I hope the minority that tacitly supports jihad has a complete change of heart.
The rest are true enemies of civilization and should be hunted down and killed wherever they are.

#36 Comment By steve in ohio On September 13, 2014 @ 1:22 am

This country is plagued by the “fight the world, invite the world ideology.” I have no desire to fight Muslims in other countries–not even the ISIS monsters. I want our leaders to seal our borders and initiate a moratorium on immigration.

#37 Comment By HeartRight On September 13, 2014 @ 8:12 am

russell says:

out of context

[37]

Rather like a bad Quentin Tarantino film, the Koran is arranged in no meaningful order. It contains 114 Suras, the first of which is, logically enough, called “The Opening”. The other 113 are ranged not in any meaningful chronological order, in which they have to be interpreted, but in decreasing order of length.

<b<But why is the order so important? Well, Mohammed, I mean God, liked to change his mind. These changes of mind, properly called " abrogations", conveniently happened whenever Mohammed was having problems with things he, I mean God, had previously decreed. For instance, Mohammed, I mean God, decreed that believers could have four wives. But our Mo wanted a few more, so there is a sudden revelation that Mohammed can have more, indeed as many as he liked. But of course this revelation explicitly only provides Mohammed with the exception, and not the rest of the believers.

Alcohol is another case in point – 16:67 accepts it, then 4:43 prohibits turning up to worship drunk, and finally 5:90 prohibits it. Perhaps the most relevant abrogation today relates to attitudes towards nonbelievers (including the “people of the book”) – the so-called Verse of the Sword, 9:5, aggregates and therefore cancels out no fewer than 124 more peaceful and tolerant verses, including the famous “there is no compulsion in religion” (which appears chronologically earlier). The vast majority of Islamic scholars agree that Sura 9 was chronologically the last to be “revealed”, and – shock horror – an awful lot of the really nasty stuff appears in this sura and cancels out anything it contradicts!

#38 Comment By girigirihanasu On September 13, 2014 @ 5:47 pm

@russell, I am an athiest, but I know that the Old Testament is full of STORIES about violence. And the Old Testament is shared (more or less) by Islam and Christianity. However, I think we can all agree that Christianity follows the teachings of Jesus and Islam follows the teachings of Muhammad. Jesus never once suggested to his followers that they be violent to anyone. He even told them to love their enemies. Muhammad, on the other hand, specifically TOLD his follows to kill enemies and non-believers, or to subjugate them. Can’t you see the difference? You surely can…

#39 Comment By Augustine of Hippo On September 13, 2014 @ 10:50 pm

@Barry

Well said!

#40 Comment By Geoff On September 14, 2014 @ 8:35 am

If Israel is actually the biggest enemy of worldwide Islam, Islam is in pretty good shape.

#41 Comment By imnobody00 On September 15, 2014 @ 1:35 am

@russell

The Old Testament has been replaced by the New Testament. These words don’t apply to today’s Christians. They don’t apply to Jews now, either.

But the verses of the Koran saying you must kill infidels, they apply to today’s Muslims.

Unlike Judaism and Christianity (where the Bible is written by humans inspired by God), the Koran is dictated by God (through the archangel Gabriel) and it is meant to be interpreted literally. All the war verses in the Bible are not valid now. All the war verses in the Koran are valid now.

So, no it’s not the same and,instead of googling Bible verses, you could learn the basics things about Islam so you don’t end up making a fool of yourself.

#42 Comment By Viking On September 15, 2014 @ 4:47 pm

Imnobody00, thanks for your reply to russell. I was thinking about making my own response, but was tripped up by my lack of knowledge of modern Judaism. (The New Testament’s superceding of the OT in Christianity was evident enough to me.) Could you explain how Judaism no longer regards the “war verses”, as you call them, to be binding?

Btw, russell, at risk of piling on, I don’t believe that either the OT verses which you referenced, or the Koranic ones that others did, were “taken out of context”. They all meant just what they said – unless you believe, as one scholar I heard on The History Channel say, that the OT stories were fantasy rather than history. And if a statement really is taken out of context, then one has a duty, it seems to me, to provide that context, and show how the former speaker or writer thus misled her/his listerners or readers. Just saying that it doesn’t mean what it appears to say, absent such explanation, should convince no discerning person.

#43 Comment By Harrison H. Elfrink On September 15, 2014 @ 5:27 pm

In the Qur’an, meanings are either Zohar (exoteric understandings), or Batin (esoteric understandings that require a learned person to understand and relay to his followers). Though there are certain literalist movements within Islam that take the Qur’anic messages at complete face value, leaving little room for tafsir, without understanding the time and events surrounding their revelations. And, yes, that is a big problem in our religion.

Also, that “kill the disbelievers wherever you find them” verse was revealed when the non-Muslims were starting wars and threatening the Muslims. Yes, our religion isn’t a peaceful hippie religion like a lot of new age movements and movements within the Dharmic faiths, but the Muslims were faced with adversity in their early years? What do you expect them to have done? Raise the white flag and let the Quraysh have their ways with them?

#44 Comment By Harrison H. Elfrink On September 15, 2014 @ 5:32 pm

But of course, despite what I said. I don’t expect the majority of people to sufficiently understand our faith.

In fact, I am against mass-Daw’ah (proselytization of Islam) for that reason. You bring in a whole lot of seedy people into our faith, and their hearts haven’t been purified, and they lack the logical capacity to engage in tafsir when they read the Qur’an and understand the circumstances in why the Ayahs (verses) and Surahs (chapters) were revealed.

#45 Comment By AJ2000 On September 15, 2014 @ 6:21 pm

@imnobody

You really need to google the term “abrogated verses of the Quran” or look up the term Naskh on Wikipedia. Abrogation is the process where certain verses of the Koran are replaced by others. The verse that you are talking about killing infidels, the Verse of the Sword, has been abrogated by multiple verses in the Koran that tell Muslims to treat non-Muslims peacefully, according to many scholars both ancient and modern.

The Salafis and Jihadists of course don’t believe in abrogation and love that verse and use it to justify terrorist attacks. But the majority of Muslims don’t live by that. If they did, then we would have real problems – there are over a billion Muslims in the world and two million in the US. If they all believed that killing infidels were their number one duty, there would be a lot more terrorist attacks in the world.

#46 Comment By Mary On September 16, 2014 @ 1:54 pm

We just need to be educated as to what Islam is and its impact on our world. I recommend two books:

A God Who Hates by Dr. Wafa Sultan, MD (she was raised a Muslim in the Middle East but now lives in American and is no longer a Muslim. Her explanation of Islam is the best I have ever read as she speaks the language that the Koran is written in and knows exactly what it says and explains it. )

“Because they Hate” by Bridget Gabriel (she grew up in Lebanon during the Lebanese war and is a Christian.)

#47 Comment By Harrison H. Elfrink On September 17, 2014 @ 12:16 am

“The Salafis and Jihadists of course don’t believe in abrogation”

Well, there is a Ayah in Surah al-Baqarah (Chapter of the Cow)
2:106
“None of Our revelations do We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, but We substitute something better or similar: Knowest thou not that Allah Hath power over all things?”

However, tafsir (putting Qur’an Surahs into context) is important. Also in Shi’ism, there is an understand that verses have a commonly accepted understanding (zohar) and a deeper, more esoteric meaning (batin). It also helps to understand that Arabs, like most oriental civilizations, tend to favor highly contextualized understandings in their communications, and the Qur’an was revealed to Muhammad (saw) who was an Arab living in the 7th century. The Qur’an was revealed in a way that Arabs can understand it.

Also, in Surah Bani Israil, there is this:
If it were Our Will, We could take away that which We have sent thee by inspiration:then wouldst thou find none to plead thy affair in that matter as against Us,”
17:86

Meaning revelations can be changed, or omitted should God require it (if you want to go with a literal understanding.)

#48 Comment By FreeOregon On September 21, 2014 @ 7:33 pm

Do you remember the infamous “Ugly American?”

What if our public education system has gotten worse, not better?

What if using force to make everyone behave and think in a politically correct manner has backfired?