Monday, December 13, 2010

Jeff Jacoby Takes on the Islamophobia Myth

by IPT News

Accusations that the United States is Islamophobic don't match the statistical reality, according to a recent article by Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby. "The Islamophobia Myth" questions the basis for this oft-repeated claim and concludes that "American's exemplary tolerance is the rule."

Time's August 30th cover poses the question "Is America Islamophobic" and responds by presenting an anecdotal account which doesn't match up with the FBI's latest compendium of US hate-crimes data or other statistical measurements.

"Where ordinary Americans meet Islam, there is evidence that suspicion and hostility are growing," Time told its readers last summer. "To be a Muslim in America now is to endure slings and arrows against your faith — not just in the schoolyard and the office but also outside your place of worship and in the public square, where some of the country's most powerful mainstream religious and political leaders unthinkingly (or worse, deliberately) conflate Islam with terrorism and savagery."

However, the data presented in the Time article suggests otherwise. Between 2001 and 2010, the number of mosques rose from 1,200 to 1,900, even as attacks by radical Islamists proliferated.

Hate crimes statistics debunk the Islamophobia accusation. Jacoby observed, "Year after year, American Jews are far more likely to be the victims of religious hate crime than members of any other group. That was true even in 2001, by far the worst year for anti-Muslim hate crimes." While "even one hate crime is one too many," data driven analysis suggests Jews are under a much greater threat. Just 9.3 percent, less than 1 in 10 hate crimes committed in 2009 were against Muslims. "By contrast, 70.1 percent were committed against Jews, 6.9 percent were aimed at Catholics or Protestants, and 8.6 percent targeted other religions. Hate crimes driven by anti-Muslim bigotry were outnumbered nearly 8 to 1 by anti-Semitic crimes."

Jacoby notes that just as it is incorrect to say that America is "Judeophobic," even if the date makes a far stronger basis for the conclusion, it is equally incorrect to suggest our country is Islamophobic. Even examples of open bigotry, such as the "Burn the Qur'an" day by a Gainesville pastor, met with "wall-to-wall repudiation" from numerous Christian, Jewish, and secular groups.

Jacoby concludes, "For American Muslims as for American Jews, the tension and hostility are the exception. America's exemplary tolerance is the rule."

IPT News

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

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