The straw man of the famous post-Sept. 11 slogan, “Not every Muslim is a terrorist but every terrorist is a Muslim” was debunked by a 2005 FBI report.
It showed that only 6 percent of terrorist attacks on U.S. soil from 1980 to 2005 were carried out by extremists calling themselves Muslims. But one group has sustained the Islamophobic rhetoric, nonetheless.
So I wonder if Muslims would rally outside the Republican National Convention this week carrying a banner stating, “Not all Republicans are Islamophobes but all Islamophobes are Republicans.” Trust me. The data supports it.
A new poll conducted by the Arab American Institute asked the attitudes of voters, analyzed along party lines, towards different religious groups, including Arabs and Muslims. Overall, 57 percent of the Republican voters viewed all Muslims unfavorably in comparison to 29 percent of Democrats who expressed a similar opinion. When it came to American Muslims, 47 percent of Republicans, in contrast with 23 percent of Democrats, held an unfavorable view.
Islamophobia in America is not innate, rather it’s the fruit of a decade-long hysteria against Muslims generated by a largely Republican machine comprised of pundits, conservative funders, media conglomerates and fiery politicians.
You can’t help but wonder: Why is it that nearly all Islamophobes are Republicans?
Is there a way to overcome religious intolerance?
Given global demographic changes, it’s a vital question. “The most certain prediction that we can make about almost any modern society is that it will be more diverse a generation from now than it is today,” the political scientist Robert D. Putnam has written. “This is true from Sweden to the United States and from New Zealand to Ireland.”
In the United States, the question holds special significance for the simple reason that American society is highly religious and highly diverse and — on matters concerning faith — considerably more politically polarized than a quarter-century ago.
The United States prides itself on welcoming people of different faiths. The Bill of Rights begins with a guarantee of freedom of worship. In 1790, George Washington sent a letter to a Jewish congregation in which he expressed his wish that they “continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants,” and declared that the government “gives to bigotry no sanction.” In 2010, Mayor Bloomberg’s impassioned and courageous defense of the Cordoba House — the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque” — became an important addition to a long and noble tradition of inclusion. (It’s a speech worth reading.)
NYT Op-ED Columnist: NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF
“…I hereby apologize to Muslims for the wave of bigotry and simple nuttiness that has lately been directed at you. The venom on the airwaves, equating Muslims with terrorists, should embarrass us more than you. Muslims are one of the last minorities in the United States that it is still possible to demean openly, and I apologize for the slurs.”