Last week's Time magazine cover story by Bobby Ghosh reported that "hate speech against Muslims and Islam is growing both more widespread and more heated," with protests against a mosque in lower Manhattan and the building of other mosques elsewhere not considered isolated incidents but part of a nationwide feeling of Islamophobia. A poll by Time/Abt SRBI found that 46% of Americans believe Islam is more likely than other faiths to encourage violence against nonbelievers. Is America Islamophobic? What does the anti-mosque uproar tell us about how the U.S. regards Muslims? Have the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 — and the other attempts since — permanently excluded Muslims from full assimilation into American life?
Let's start with the obvious — any nation who is attacked or living with the knowledge of attempted and thwarted attacks against their homeland by a particular ethnic group is going to have trepidations about aspects of that ethnicity/religion. For example, if the United States hated a particular country/religion and repeatedly attempted to attack it, and was successful on several occasions — with or without due cause — many in that country would fear us, not like us, and be on the defensive as they anticipated future attacks. It is simply a fact and it is on some levels justified.