The Rise Of Islamophobia Across The Country
Donald Trump’s call for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” has kept Islamophobia at the front of everyone’s mind all week. Given the fact that Trump has supplied so many other outrageous comments this campaign season, it may seem exhausting to pay attention to another. But the kind of anti-Muslim rhetoric and bigotry Trump has sparked has real consequences, from threatening the safety of Muslim Americans in cities and towns across the country to undermining our national security.
Many establishment Republicans have been quick to try to distance themselves from Trump’s controversial “policy,” but his dangerous anti-Muslim rhetoric didn’t come out of nowhere. Republican candidates have denounced Muslims throughout the 2016 campaign season. Before the Donald’s latest comments, Marco Rubio said he would consider shutting down mosques, Trump called for a database of Muslims, Jeb Bush said refugees fleeing ISIS must prove they are Christian, Ted Cruz agreed, Ben Carson opposed accepting Muslim refugees, Rick Santorum suggested that only Muslims are violent, Trump promoted an Islamophobic comment at a campaign rally, Carson said a Muslim can’t be president, Scott Walker claimed only a ‘handful’ of Muslims are moderate, and Bobby Jindal warned of Muslim “no-go zones” in Europe.
This is not only a Donald Trump problem. It is a Republican problem. But it wasn’t always that way. In fact, in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, George W. Bush consistently denounced Islamophobia. In 2002 he said, “We welcome people of all faiths in America,” and in 2006 he said, “The terrorists have hijacked a peaceful religion in order to justify their behavior.” And following Trump’s comments Former Vice President Dick Cheney said, “I think this whole notion that somehow we can say no more Muslims, just ban a whole religion, goes against everything we stand for and believe in.”
Not only does banning an entire religion go against American values, it also threatens the security of Americans. It has already contributed to an increase in hate crimes and discrimination against innocent Muslims. Since the Paris attacks alone, there have been 35 incidents of anti-Muslim attacks, according to research from the Council on American-Islamic Relations and ThinkProgress. These are only the attacks we know about, which means they don’t include the sharp rise in hateful rhetoric inspired by conservative leaders.
In addition to contributing to a shocking amount of violence against Muslims around the world, Islamophobia also threatens to undermine our national security. Anti-Muslim rhetoric, particularly from political leaders, gives legitimacy to the idea that there is a fight and “clash of civilizations” between America and Islam, which plays right into terrorists’ strategies.
BOTTOM LINE: Not only is the Islamophobia being spread by conservative leaders morally wrong and factually inaccurate, it also genuinely threatens the safety of Muslims in the United States and harms our national security. Rather than exploiting the legitimate concerns of Americans with hateful anti-Muslim rhetoric, conservative leaders must work towards meaningful solutions to the threat of terrorism.
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