U.S. Negativity for Muslims

I’m surprised Laila isn’t on this, but a recent Gallup poll reveals that most Americans have negative feelings about Muslims. 22% of Americans would not want to have a Muslim as a neighbor. 34% believe that Muslims back al-Qaeda. And only 49% believe that they are loyal to the United States.

This is an utterly appalling divide. Even if other polls suggest that this country is fairly united in its disapproval of Bush and Iraq, there is still an overwhelming racist impulse here that will likely take years to sort out.


  1. Those numbers are horrifying! Technically this isn’t racism, though – Islam is a religion. “Racism against Muslims” is akin to “Homophobia against Italians” – not quite a sense-making phrase in terms of the categories involved. Curious that there isn’t a universally accepted term for anti-Muslim bigotry. But charges of racism do have merit in this context, as there are certain racial stereotypes associated with Islam – ones that also encompass Christian Arabs, Hindu South Asians, and other people with roots in the parts of the world where Islam is a dominant faith. And there’s the case of the Sikhs, victims of numerous attacks on the presumption that “men with turbans” are the enemy. Do you know of anyone who’s written about this set of issues? It seems like it’s important to keep our categories clear as the world goes to hell.

  2. Sacha: A very fair point for which I apologize for. But since the American perception (including, apparently, mine) of Muslim generally involves “brown-skinned,” I think there’s something to be said for the racist label. For my own part, I have always acknowledged that there are many types of Muslims beyond the traditional racial stereotype and I apologize for having caused any offense.

  3. Don’t worry, I’m not offended. This is actually an issue I’ve been trying to get my own head around, and I was hoping to start a “dialogue” of some kind.

  4. I agree that those numbers are insane, but not all that surprising, since we have a long history of racism and fear of “the other” in this country. One thing I would be curious about: How many people around the world would prefer not to have an American (or a Christian, or a Jew) as a neighbor. I think it would be useful to realize that these religious fears are a global problem.

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