The University of California
Berkeley's Center for Race and
Gender (CRG) along with the Council on American-Islamic
Relations (CAIR), has released a report outlining the exponential growth of
Islamaphobia in the United
States. The report
argues that politics is to blame for much of the problem.
investigative report is a key step in exposing and examining the powerful force
of Islamophobia in the U.S.,
according to Prof. Evelyn Nakano Glenn, Director, Center for Race &
Berkeley report - called Same Hate, New
Target - says Muslim-bashing factored into the 2010 midterm
elections and is already front and center in the upcoming presidential
campaign. It says that Islamophobia has actually increased since the election
of President Barack Obama, with right-wing Republicans feeding on anti-Muslim
sentiments and fears over the so-called Sharia law.
to those interviewed for this study, on a scale from 1(best situation for
Muslims) to 10 (worst possible situation for Muslims) Islamophobia in America stands
at a 6.4. Interviews were conducted in September and October of 2010.
The UCB/CAIR report, based on available data and interviews with experts, provides a definition of Islamophobia. "Islamophobia is close-minded prejudice against or hatred of Islam and Muslims. An Islamophobe is an individual who holds a closed-minded view of Islam and promotes prejudice against or hatred of Muslims. It is not appropriate to label all, or even the majority of those, who question Islam and Muslims as Islamophobes," the report says.
The report gives an overview of Islamophobia's growing negative impact in the United State, and lists people and institutions known for promoting Islamaphobia. Those listed as actively promoting Islamophobia included Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, co-founders of the anti-Muslim hate group Stop the Islamization of America(SIOA); Act! for America leader Brigitte Gabriel; and GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich.
The report also details the best of those pushing back
against growing anti-Muslim sentiment. Those
commended for pushing back against Islamophobia include New York Mayor Michael
Bloomberg;Loonwatch.com; CongressionalTri-Caucus; Rep. Keith Ellison(D-MN); Jon
Stewart, Aasif Man-dvi and The Daily Show; KeithOlbermann and Countdown with
Keith Olbermann; Stephen Colbert and The Colbert Report; Media Matters for
America; interfaith leaders; and Rachel Maddow and The Rachel Maddow Show.
Quoting three surveys, the report stressed that America is not an Islamophobic
nation, but it has Islamophobic elements:
The public's favorable
rating of Islam sank from 40 percent in November 2001 to 30 percent in August
2010 according to the Pew
In late November 2010, the Public Research Institute found that 45 percent of Americans agree that Islam is at odds with American values.
A Time magazine poll
released in August 2010 found, "Twenty-eight percent of voters do not believe Muslims
should be eligible to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court. Nearly one-third of the
country thinks adherents of Islam should be barred from running for
President"." Interviewees for this report often cited their observation that
there is a general societal acceptance of derogatory commentary about Islam.
ever-greater cultural pluralism
The UCB/CAIR report
emphasized that American Muslim reflections on Islamophobia in the United States
occur in full recognition that virtually every minority in our nation has faced
and in most cases continues to face discrimination.
In its chapter - Evolving toward ever-greater cultural
pluralism -- the report recalled:
In his Pulitzer Prize-winning book Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era,1 James McPherson reports on English Protestant Americans' suspicion of German and Irish Catholic immigrants to the U.S. in the nineteenth century:
More dangerous was the specter of ethnic conflict. Except for a sprinkling of German farmers in Pennsylvania and in the valleys of the Appalachian Piedmont, the American white population before 1830 was overwhelmingly British and Protestant in heritage.