It's become popular in Democratic circles to discuss the ever-growing anti-Muslim bias in today's media and in the psyche of the American populace.
In fact, Senator Dick Durbin is planning on holding Senate hearings to investigate the growing hatred:
Barely two weeks after House Republicans held hearings on the threat posed by radicalized American Muslims, the Senate's No. 2 Democrat announced his own hearings on threats to American Muslims' civil rights.
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., made no mention of the March 10 hearings by the House Homeland Security Committee that reduced the first Muslim elected to Congress to tears.
Instead, Durbin cited a spike "in anti-Muslim bigotry," including the burning of Qurans and an increase in hate crimes and hate speech toward Muslims. Durbin will convene the hearings on March 29 as chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights.
Sounds great, right?
Unfortunately, the whole endeavor doesn't hold any water. There is no increase in "anti-Muslim bigotry" in the United States, according to the statistics. In fact, statistically, there hasn't been an increase in "anti-Muslim bigotry" since the September 11th attacks. From CNN:
Let's start with the national numbers: 8.4 percent of religious hate crimes in America were anti-Muslim in 2009 (the most recent date for which statistics are available). By contrast, that same year, nearly 72 percent of religious hate crimes in America were anti-Jewish (Muslims in America faced 107 incidents of bias in 2009; Jews faced 931).
This pattern has remained fairly consistent over the past decade. For example, in 2002, 10.5 percent of the religious bias crimes in America were anti-Muslim while 65% were anti-Jewish; in 2006 (just to pick another post- 9/11/2001 year), 11.9 percent of the religious bias crimes in America were anti-Muslim while 65.4 percent were anti-Jewish. (It is worth noting here that exact statistics on the Muslim population in America are hard to assess -- estimates range from 2.6 million to 7 million, a number President Obama cited -- the Jewish population is generally agreed upon at about 6.5 million).
So what is that larger story? Bigotry is, of course, abhorrent. But given that America has been targeted by a great deal of terrorism in the name of Islam over the past decade -- targeted by terrorists who say they are acting in the name of Islam -- America has not over-reacted in a wave of anti-Muslim bigotry.
The economic crisis and the still abhorrent unemployment rate has no doubt led to a rise in xenophobia and scapegoating, as it always does. Anti-Jewish hate sites such as Stormfront and Mondoweiss have grown in popularity as the myth of Jewish and/or Israeli control over the banks, world governments, and the media has been revitalized. A small group of hateful Americans whipped up by hatemongers like Robert Spencer, Pam Geller, and Peter King spend their weekends protesting American Muslims who only want a closer place to pray.
This is all very wrong. But there is no need to monkey around with the facts to make it seem like Americans as a whole are growing more hateful of one group of people when the facts simply don't bear that out.Updated by Imam Rin Tin Tin at Mon Mar 28, 2011 at 02:29 PM EDT
Take care, folks.