Anti-Muslim Prejudice in America is Nothing New

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It’s true 一 Islamophobia got worse after 9/11. Hate crimes spiked and today are five times higher than they were before the attacks of 2001. Stereotypical portrayals of Muslims are the norm in mainstream media, and prominent voices on the right and left scapegoat Islam. But prejudice towards Muslims isn’t a new phenomenon; Muslims have always been the mysterious “Other” in Western eyes.

In his piece, “The Stigma of Being Muslim in America,” Ussama Makdisi writes about these problematic portrayals and the policies they reinforce. His piece was originally published in the Houston Chronicle on March 5, 2015. He writes:

The attacks of 9/11 massively reinforced and rationalized this perception of Arabs and Muslims as cruel and hate-filled. An almost continuous feed of U.S. government propaganda and news cycles have since then depicted Arab and Muslim men as a threat to the freedoms that Americans notionally possess.  Muslim women, in turn, have been routinely pictured as oppressed headscarf-wearing victims who need to be liberated through American intervention…

Government racial profiling of Arabs and Muslims, the routine news of drone attacks that kill Arab and Muslim “militants” or “terrorists,” and the associated glorification of the U.S. military in its apparently endless war against “evil” —most recently the American sniper Chris Kyle who killed hundreds of Iraqis in their own country—heightens this constant message that Muslims and Arabs as individuals are always a potential threat and danger.

Unlike other major immigrant groups… Arab and Muslim Americans have to contend not only with prejudice, but with a set of U.S. policies that have helped to ravage, and continue to ravage, their countries of origin in the Middle East.

To learn more about America’s long history of demonizing Muslims, read Makdisi’s full piece at The Houston Chronicle.