Saturday, April 02, 2011
The Truth About American Muslims - NYTimes.com
At the Justice Department, it’s called the post-Sept. 11 backlash — the steady stream of more than 800 cases of violence and discrimination suffered by American Muslims at the hands of know-nothing abusers. These continuing hate crimes were laid bare at a valuable but barely noticed Senate hearing last week that provided welcome contrast to Representative Peter King’s airing of his xenophobic allegation that the Muslim-American community has been radicalized.
Offering federal data rather than mythic scapegoating of an easy political target, the Senate hearing focused on the fact that while Muslims make up 1 percent of the population, they are victims in 14 percent of religious discrimination cases. These range from homicides and mosque burnings to job, school and zoning law abuses, according to the Justice Department.
In running the hearing, Senator Richard Durbin tried to set the record straight about the patriotism of a vast majority of American-Muslim citizens and the continuing assaults on their civil rights. He warned against the “guilt by association” whipped up by Mr. King’s broadsides — that there are “too many mosques” in the nation, that most of them are extremist, and that American Muslim leaders have failed to cooperate with law enforcement against home-grown terrorism.
It was former President George W. Bush who first warned against turning on Muslim Americans after Sept. 11, 2001, stressing the fact that Islam is “a faith based upon love, not hate,” regardless of the religious veneer the fanatics of 9/11 tried to attach to their atrocities. Since then, American Muslims have served as the largest source of tips to authorities tracking terror suspects, according to a recent university study.
The Senate hearing was not designed as a full refutation of Representative King’s wild thesis, but it put a more human and factual face on a community that has been badly slurred. Mr. King is promising more committee haymakers. This is unfortunate. At least Mr. Durbin’s hearing made clear that the nation’s struggle against terrorism is best served by information, not dark generalizations.