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In Theory: Is America Islamophobic?

Has terrorism made it nearly impossible for Muslims to assimilate into American life?

September 01, 2010|By Michael J. Arvizu

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.

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However, to hate a race or to discriminate against a race on the whole, is sheer ignorance. One of my best friends married a Muslim man. I adore their family. I have many other friends, as does my family, who are of that religion. Do I fear them? Absolutely not. Do I hate their ethnicity and religion? That is preposterous. Do I believe there are Muslims whom we should fear and be wary of? Yes, completely.

This is our country, our home, the place we in which we live, work, breathe, raise families and a place where we should feel safe. If I were part of a religion or ethnicity that attacked another country, I would expect that country to be wary of us. It just makes sense. But to hate or fear on a whole — and to be ignorant — is not God's will and not ethical on any level.

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