Neoconservative blogger Ed Lasky takes issue with the Center For American Progress’s new report — “Fear, Inc.” — documenting the Islamophobia industry in America. He cites a Reuters write-up of a Pew poll surveying American Muslims that says, among other things, “that most Muslims felt ordinary Americans were friendly or neutral toward them.” This prompts Lasky to ask:
If Muslim Americans felt discrimination were rampant, would they express contentment and happiness with living in America? Would they be confident about the future of America and their own personal futures? Would they feel that most Americans are friendly or neutral towards them. [sic.]
Where is the Islamophobia that supposedly is proliferating across America? The charge is merely meant to line the pockets of activist groups and chill any criticism of Muslim actions, however insensitive (the 9/11 Mosque) or questionable (the adoption of aspects of Sharia law) they may be perceived to be by some Americans.
But the same Reuters article Lasky cited says that Muslims in America are content with their lives in the U.S. despite fairly widespread feelings of discrimination related to their faith, not because such feelings do not exist. Reuters writes:
Since 2007, there has been little change in how Muslim Americans see how they are viewed by the rest of America, with 28 percent saying other Americans viewed them suspiciously and 22 percent saying they had been called offensive names. Only 6 percent said they had been threatened or attacked, while 38 percent were bothered by their sense that they were singled out for increased government surveillance.
In response to questions about being a Muslim in the United States since the Sept. 11 attacks, 55 percent said it is more difficult while 37 percent saw no change.
Almost two in five American Muslims, then, are distressed that their government may be spying on them. Perhaps Lasky should check out the moving recollection of Hamed Aleaziz, who writes about his unsuccessful experience trying to glean information from members of the congregation he grew up in after the mosque was targeted in an FBI sting operation:
After my unsuccessful experience trying to shed light on the impact of this FBI sting on my former home, I wonder if anyone will ever be able to understand what life’s like after the FBI targets your community.
Furthermore, the Pew report itself sheds more light on those statistics Lasky conveniently ignored. More than half of Muslim Americans think “government anti-terrorism policies single out Muslims in the U.S. for increased surveillance and monitoring.” The report goes on:
A quarter of Muslim Americans (25%) report that mosques or Islamic centers in their communities have been the target of controversy or outright hostility. While 14% report that there has been opposition to the building of a mosque or Islamic center in their community in the past few years, 15% say that a mosque or Islamic center in their community has been the target of vandalism or other hostile acts in the past 12 months.
Lasky, who rose to prominence by spreading smears about Barack Obama while he ran for president, ought to consider the breadth of the study he’s citing, or at the very least the article about it he selectively quoted from. If Lasky wants to distance the effect of Islamophobic rhetoric from the feelings of American Muslims, that’s one thing. But to simply pretend that American Muslims, despite their overwhelming satisfaction with life in the U.S., are not sometimes discriminated against or perceive discrimination is patently dishonest.