Prejudice Against Islam

The WaPo is surprised that Americans are prejudiced against Islam – in fact they and other Westerners are just making rational judgments.

The report (my ellipsis):

As the war in Iraq grinds into its fourth year (actually, third), a growing proportion of Americans are expressing unfavorable views of Islam, and a majority now say that Muslims are disproportionately prone to violence, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

The poll found that nearly half of Americans — 46 percent — have a negative view of Islam, seven percentage points higher than in the tense months after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, when Muslims were often (??) targeted for violence.

According to the poll, the proportion of Americans who believe that Islam helps to stoke violence against non-Muslims has more than doubled since the attacks, from 14 percent in January 2002 to 33 percent today.

The survey also found that one in three Americans have heard prejudiced comments about Muslims lately. In a separate question, slightly more (43 percent) reported having heard negative remarks about Arabs. One in four Americans admitted to harboring prejudice toward Muslims, the same proportion that expressed some personal bias against Arabs.

These percentages are shockingly high. Americans are the least racially prejudiced people I’ve encountered – comments about foreigners considered unremarkable in the UK are unacceptable in the US. That’s because US society is a machine for integrating immigrants, and an important part of that is race-blindness. My guess that a similar poll in the UK would show even higher levels of distaste for Islam.

Here’s what I think has caused this, in no particular order.

1. MSM Negativism

James Taranto suggests this:

By relentlessly focusing on the bad news in Iraq and playing down the good, journalists perpetuate an image of the Muslim world as a hostile, uncivilized place.

2. Terrorists Invoking Islam

The terrorists that have killed Westerners claimed, without exception, to have done so in the name of Islam. That sends the message to every Westerner that they must convert to Islam or be killed. Contrast that with the war in Northern Ireland, which was also between two religious groups – Catholic and Protestant. But in which both sides adopted political goals that – if granted – threatened none outside of the province.

3. Barbarism

Cutting the heads off living, bound, captives is not culturally acceptable in the West; nor is indiscriminately killing civilian men, women & kids; nor is mutilation and display of the dead. Muslims (possibly rightly) may argue that the West’s high-tech weapons inflict horrors on them. The difference is that Western militaries don’t torture, mutilate or display the dead as deliberate acts, but accidentally in the confusion of battle. So native Brits reacted with disgust to this report:

A man who upset a hotel worker by showing her video footage on his mobile telephone of a hostage being beheaded in Iraq was jailed yesterday for 60 days.

Subhaan Younis, 23, was talking to Charlotte McClay in the Moathouse Hotel in Glasgow when he showed the graphic images he had downloaded from the internet.

Sentencing him at the city’s district court, the magistrate, Euan Edment, told Younis: “I struggle to understand why you had images on your phone entailing the death and degradation of another human being, regardless of their religion or race.

4. No Apologies

If 19 Brits had inflicted 9/11, or 4 Americans had committed 7/7, our respective nations would have been convulsed with guilt, and a desire for
atonement. By contrast – to my knowledge – no Muslim religious leader, no Muslim nation, no Muslim citizens groups has apologized unreservedly for these acts.

All of this is unfortunate for the Muslims in Western societies who are decent and productive citizens, but only they can put their house in order.

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