Occasionally its difficult to fisk a ‘Comment is Free’ essay because the argument lacks structure or coherence, tying in several disparate themes in a broad polemic. Usman Ahmedani‘s CiF essay, Islamophobia as a political ploy, March 29, represents such an example.
However, while Ahmedani’s narrative may lack narrative clarity its political agenda seems pretty clear, arguing that there is a rising tide of Islamophobia in America. She cites, as evidence, one cartoon in the NY Post which defends the NYPD’s counter-terrorism efforts aimed at preventing Islamist terror threats, and opposition to a mosque at Ground Zero.
As we’ve documented previously, however, there is no data indicating a rising tide of anti-Muslim racism in the U.S., based on hate crime statistics as well as the affluence, political freedom and happiness of Muslim Americans.
Hate crimes against Muslims remain extremely rare in America and are far outnumbered by attacks on Jewish Americans. In 2010, only 13.2 percent of religion-based attacks were directed at Muslims, 65.4 percent of such crimes were directed at Jews.
Ahmedani, a graduate student in modern Middle Eastern studies at the University of Oxford, also points to U.S. law enforcement’s monitoring of Islamist groups as evidence of systematic bias. However, the fact is that, since 9/11, more than 170 American Muslim extremists have been arrested on various terror-related charges, ranging from bomb plots to providing material support to terrorists.
To place that number in better context, more than 80% of all convictions tied to international terrorist groups and homegrown terrorism since 9/11 involve defendants driven by a radical Islamist agenda. Though Muslims represent less than 1% of the American population, they constitute defendants in 186 of the 228 cases the Justice Department lists.
It’s important to note that the overwhelming majority of Muslim Americans are, of course, peaceful, not in any way involved with terrorism and, further, that all genuine anti-Muslim bias crimes are morally unacceptable.
Moreover, it’s equally as important to recognize that Muslims in America are generally thriving, and indeed mirror the broader U.S. population in education and income levels, with immigrant Muslims actually slightly more affluent and better educated than native-born Muslims.
A Pew study demonstrated that are there is a significant “concentration of U.S. Muslims in professional, managerial, and technical fields, especially in information technology, education, medicine, law, and the corporate world.”
A Gallup poll in 2011 indicated that the overwhelming majority of U.S. Muslims are patriotic, loyal and feel they are “thriving” in the country.
Contrary to the popular Guardian narrative, Muslims don’t feel they are under siege in the U.S., and indeed enjoy economic prosperity, and religious and civil rights which would be unimaginable in most other countries.
The refrain by Usman Ahmedani (as well as, in 2011 CiF commentaries by Wajahat Ali, of The Center for American Progress, and Sarah Wildman) suggesting that American Muslims face systemic and increased discrimination is completely without merit.
If the question of whether there was a rising tide of Islamophobia in the U.S. was based by facts, reason, and data – that is, if it wasn’t driven by ideology – the debate would have ended long ago.