The More Important Question is Why
A few weeks back, Rufus asked whether there had been a recent uptick in people protesting against the construction of mosques and Islamic religious institutions. As the recent NY Times piece (with which I assume all are familiar) demonstrated, the answer to this question is, sadly, an unequivocal “yes.” Although little of this uptick has involved outright acts of violence against Muslims, it is nonetheless highly disturbing that many of them have involved calls for state action against Muslims, oftimes by government officials (and, as any doctrinaire libertarian will tell you, “calls for state action” are in fact calls for state-sponsored violence on at least some level). Equally disturbing to me is the way in which many of the justifications for concluding that all Muslims want to create a new caliphate in the United States are exactly parallel to traditional justifications for anti-Semitism, and in particular the way in which verses from the Koran or other Islamic texts are selectively lifted to demonstrate that world domination is a central tenet of Islam and that all good Muslims accept as a matter of religious doctrine that they are entitled to rape, maim, rob, kill or – perhaps most significantly – lie to non-believers.* This last is important because it makes it impossible for a Muslim to prove himself non-violent;
But Rufus asked another question in his first post that remains unanswered: why?
In manys ways, this is indeed the more important question, as few of these attempts seem to have yet achieved any kind of lasting success. It is also an extraordinarily puzzling question.
Proponents of this antagonism Islam in the United States attribute it to Americans in effect “waking up” to the threat of Islamism and sharia, with Andy McCarthy writing:
Most of the American people are in a much different place. They see Islamists advancing, they are beginning to grasp that Islamists (not just terrorists but the whole Islamist movement) mean to change us in very fundamental ways, and therefore they understand that every such advance is a defeat for freedom. Every advance emboldens a determined enemy to press ahead. Over time, we could be conquered in that our way of life would be drastically altered.
This explanation makes about zero sense, particularly coming as it does during a time when the Great Immigration Menace (to the extent it is actually a “menace” at all) comes overwhelmingly from Catholic Central America. We are now 9 years removed from 9/11. We are five years removed from the London train bombings, six from the Madrid train bombings. Although the Fort Hood shootings are only 9 months in the past, that attack appears more an isolated incident than the result of a coordinated effort, more comparable to the Holocaust Museum shootings than anything else.
True, there have been a number of thwarted attempted attacks over the years, ranging from the absurdly outlandish to the (thankfully) incompetently executed. Then again, even a thwarted attempt is the exception rather than the rule – we hear about such attempts only once or, at most, twice a year, not once or twice a month, much less once or twice a day. The fact is that anti-Muslim sentiment right now seems to be running higher than it did in the traumatic days immediately following 9/11.
I have little doubt that, for all his faults, George W. Bush’s repeated attempts to delineate between radical and mainstream Islam helped to keep this sentiment reined in. That he was replaced by a nominally liberal Democrat with the middle name of “Hussein” probably did not help matters with the group most likely to hold deep-seated prejudices against Muslims.
So that’s probably a big part of it. Add to that the dreadful state of the economy and the historical link between nativism and isolationism and the economy and you’ve got a little bit more. But I don’t think it gets you to the point where it explains why politicians increasingly seem to be concluding that running on an anti-Muslim platform is the secret to winning elections, just as much and maybe even more so than running on a nominally Tea Party-ish platform. I don’t think it gets you to the point where groups like the Anti-Defamation League feel comfortable signing onto this movement.
So, I leave it to you, dear readers, even (perhaps especially) those of you who agree with the sentiments of the anti-Muslim movement: what explains this? If you do agree with those sentiments and wish to chalk it up to “Americans are waking up,” though, then I want to know what is causing Americans to suddenly, in your mind, “wake up.”
Relatedly, given the insistence (however dubious) that Muslims are obligated to lie about their intentions, how do you propose that Muslims can demonstrate that they are neither bad Muslims nor intent on establishing a new caliphate or otherwise dominating the United States?
* I do not link to the supporting evidence for this point for two reasons: first, I am quite certain those sites are blocked by my filter software, and second because I don’t wish to give proudly anti-Semitic sites traffic. I did, however, research this last night and suffice to say that claims that Jews are permitted to lie to Gentiles, as well as kill, rob, rape, and maim them based on carefully selected quotes from the Torah and the Talmud are quite central to anti-Semitism going back at least as far as Martin Luther (and, I assume, quite a bit further than that).