You are hereIn These Times: The ‘80s Origins of Today’s Anti-Muslim Bigotry

In These Times: The ‘80s Origins of Today’s Anti-Muslim Bigotry


March 11, 2011- The least intriguing aspect of Republican Rep. Peter King’s congressional hearing this week on terrorism and the “radicalization in the American Muslim community” is the spectacle’s obvious hypocrisy. King was himself a cheerleader of a terrorist group (the Irish Republican Army), and his hearings ignore new government statistics showing that since 9/11, right-wing and white supremacist terrorist plots have outnumbered those of Muslims. Indeed, as the law enforcement data prove, if “radicalization” is a concern, it is at least as much of a problem in the ultraconservative community as it is in the American Muslim community.

King has defended his hearing’s narrow focus by saying that “there are a small percentage (of Muslims) who have allied themselves with al-Qaida” and that “the leaders of that community do not face up to that reality (and are) not willing to speak out and condemn this type of radicalization.” In the wake of Joseph Stack’s kamikaze attack on the IRS, Scott Roeder’s killing of abortion provider George Tiller, and Byron Williams’ Glenn-Beck-inspired terrorist plot (among other atrocities), King should be saying exactly the same thing about his fellow conservatives — but he’s not.

As I said, this hypocrisy isn’t interesting because it’s so utterly undeniable. However, what is interesting — and profoundly telling — is King’s explanation for his behavior. He says simply that “It makes no sense to talk about other (read: non-Muslim) types of extremism.”

The remark, of course, typifies a broader sentiment in America and raises the most important “why” question: Why do so many like King see extremist acts by non-Muslims as mere isolated incidents that “make no sense to talk about,” yet see extremist acts by Muslims as a systemic problem worthy of military invasions and now congressional witch hunts?

The short answer is 9/11—but that’s oversimplified. Anti-Muslim sentiment was embedded in American society well before that horrific attack stoked a bigoted backlash. The real answer is connected to overwrought Reagan/Bush-era pop culture that first equated “terrorist” with “Muslim.”

FULL STORY HERE:

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