Rep. Peter King’s announced congressional hearings on Muslim extremism have brought on a tidal wave of condemnation of the level to which America allegedly embraces anti-Islamic bigotry, so it’s important to take a look at how American Muslims are really treated in this country.
We’ve noted before how polling data indicates that the American people don’t consider most Muslims to be terrorism supporters and FBI numbers show that Muslims actually comprise a very small share of the nation’s annual hate crime victims. And yesterday, the Center for Security Policy released a new report on religiously motivated hate crimes between 2000 and 2009, which “contradicts the false assertions that hate crimes against Muslims have increased, and that the alleged cause is widespread Islamophobia in America.” CSP president Frank Gaffney says:
This report is important because it exposes a false belief perpetuated by a few vocal groups that religious bias crimes against Muslims are on the upswing. The truth is quite the opposite. These arguments, unsubstantiated by hard factual data, are corrosive to community relationships at every level of American society, and a potential threat to national security.
First, the report’s summary chart [download here] shows that the overwhelming majority of Americans are peaceful to members of all faiths. There were a total of 6,319 anti-religious hate crimes perpetrated against Americans of all faiths in the last decade. As despicable as every single act was, that number is well within the range we should expect in a free society of over 300 million people (consider that in 2008 alone there were 16,272 murders, 89,000 rapes, and 441,855 robberies). Neither Jews, Christians nor Muslims are suffering any kind of hate-crime epidemic.
That alone should suffice to demonstrate that Muslims are hardly getting the second-class citizen treatment—even if they were disproportionately targeted, the discrimination would still be among an astoundingly small subset of the population. But as it turns out, not even that’s true. The worst year for Muslims, predictably, was 2001, the year of the September 11 attacks, which saw 546 anti-Muslim offenses (up sharply from 33 the previous year). But over the next eight years, offenses dropped almost as sharply, fluctuating between a low of 123 and a high of 193. This is pretty consistently higher than anti-Christian offenses, though not by much, and Christians were actually victimized more than Muslims in 2000 and 2008.
The real story, though, is how those numbers compare to anti-Semitic offenses:
[In] 2009, Jewish victims of hate crimes outnumbered Muslim victims by more than 8 to 1 (1,132 Jewish victims to 132 Muslim victims). From 2000 through 2009, for every one hate crime incident against a Muslim, there were six hate crime incidents against Jewish victims (1,580 Muslim incidents versus 9,692 Jewish incidents). Even in 2001, total anti-Muslim incidents, offenses and victims remained approximately half of the corresponding anti-Jewish totals.
The data soundly refutes the prevailing myths surrounding intolerance in America (“a Pew poll conducted in 2009 found that 58% of Americans believe there is ‘a lot of discrimination against’ Muslims, opposed to 35% who thought the same for Jews.”). And just as importantly, the report notes the sinister use to which jihadists and their allies put such misinformation. An example:
Turning to the modern Islamic scholars, Louay Safi is a Muslim author and scholar who has served at the top ranks of Muslim Brotherhood affiliates in the U.S. He formerly was the Executive Director of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA)’s Leadership Development Center, Executive Director and Director of Research for the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT), editor of the Journal of Islamic Social Sciences, and President of the Association of Muslim Social Scientists (AMSS) (1999-2003). ISNA, IIIT, and the AMSS all appear on the Muslim Brotherhood’s own list of “our organizations and the organizations of our friends.” Safi currently serves as Common Word Fellow at the Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim Christian Understanding at Georgetown University. His credentials, in other words, would seem impeccable to speak to Islamic rulings on defensive warfare.
The slim 2001 paperback book, “Peace and the Limits of War,” was authored by Safi and published by the IIIT in response to the post-9/11 surge in public awareness of Islam and jihad. While Safi attempts to distance himself from the classical Islamic scholars on the topic of mandatory offensive jihad, he has no such compunctions when it comes to “War in defense of Muslim individuals and property.” He writes:
“When wrong is inflicted on a Muslim individual by a member, or members, of another political community….the Islamic state is obligated to make sure the individual, or his family, is compensated for his suffering, and that his rights are upheld…it suffices to say that the Islamic state should ensure that justice has been done to the wronged Muslim, even if that take a declaration of war…”
If anyone has been victimized by a widespread wave of hatred and fear-mongering, it’s the American people. For all our failings, we are a well-meaning, compassionate, decent people, who have nothing against people who look, think and believe differently, and honestly want America to be a land of freedom and opportunity for everyone. That they are defamed as bigots for their efforts to expose the villains hiding behind peaceful, liberty-loving Muslims is a more despicable act of hate than anything Peter King has in mind.