Good Question: Are Americans Unfairly Anti-Muslim?

By Jason DeRusha, WCCO-TV

— When Rep. Peter King of New York called a hearing called “Radicalization in the American Muslim Community,” it brought into focus the dramatic and polarized emotions many Americans have towards Muslims.

Forty percent of Americans say they believe Islam promotes violence more than other religions, according to a Gallup Poll. So, does America have a racist attitude towards Islam?

“This is the very heart of stereotyping and scapegoating,” testified Rep. Keith Ellison (D – Minn.), one of two Muslims elected to Congress.

However, King’s hearing into radical Muslims isn’t the first on Capitol Hill. It’s the 15th on homegrown extremists since 2006, and almost all of them focused on Islam.

“This is not the American way. This is rank prejudice,” said Dr. William Beeman, a University of Minnesota anthropologist, who has extensively studied the Middle East and Islam. “We’re more or less obsessing about the events of 9-11 which was a decade ago.”

Indeed, when I previewed this story on my Facebook page, one person wrote: “Muslims are a bunch of freakin’ wackos, even the ones who aren’t violent.” Another wrote: “These people are absolutely maniacal.”

“The Westboro Church in Kansas. are they radical Christians or just radicals? How about radical Jews? Are they radical people or are they radical Jews?” asked Beeman.

Still, in light of the hearings, again, local Muslims are defending themselves, and their religion.

“I think they’ve been targeting us and it’s unfair,” said Lori Saroya in Minneapolis. “These attacks have nothing to do with Muslims and Islam,” she added.

There are many types of extremists inflicting terror in the U.S. Tim McVeigh blew up the federal building in Oklahoma City, but he never appeared to have religious motivations, although he was raised Catholic. Jared Loughner is accused of going on a shooting spree at public appearance by an Arizona Congresswoman, but he was also not motivated by religion.

Beeman said that perhaps a religious parallel could be drawn with the attacks on abortion clinics.

“It’s controversial to bring this up, but there are many, many people who attacked abortion clinics, and killed abortion doctors, and, again, we don’t call them Catholic terrorists,” said Beeman..

“The motivations are clearly religious, yet we don’t condemn the entire Catholic Church for the actions of a few,” he said.

So, what is it about Islam that has people taking the actions of a small group of extremists and generalizing it to the whole religion? Beeman and others say that the United States needs an enemy.

After the fall of the Soviet Union, the Middle East and Islam emerged as that enemy.

“It’s virtually exactly parallel to the McCarthy hearings. It’s about fear, and radicalizing the American public against a group,” said Beeman.

More from Jason DeRusha
  • Mike

    The answer is yes, Americans are ant- muslm and the christian right makes up a large part of that population.

    • Skeezer

      I learned everything I need to know about Islam on 9/11/01

      • Mark

        I suppose you learned everything you needed to know about Christians on April 19, 1995 too? Maybe there are better instruments of education that videos of building demolitions.

  • okay

    when we hear about westboro,, Hindus, or any other group recruiting people to come kill civilians on American soil or go fight in a civil war in their home country we can go After them. But since they Arnt right now they arnt a threat
    the difference between this and mccarthyism is that the group we are targeting has actually has attacked us and continues to try and will until we have no foot on Muslim soil world wide .
    What other group is attacking us right now or radicalising people to attack us

  • Dave

    It wasn’t Christians, Jews or the IRA who flew planes into the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

    It wasn’t the Christians or Jews who tried to blow up a plane on Christmas Day.

    It wasn’t Christians, Jews or the IRA who blew up the USS Cole.

    It wasn’t Christians, Jews or the IRA who killed 13 people at Fort Hood, Texas.

    Its not Christians who have sworn to destroy a sovereign nation.

    It wasn’t Christians or Jews who threatened Salmon Rushdie with death for writing the Satanic Verses.

    It wasn’t Christians or Jews who killed Dutch film director Theo Van Gough.

    It wasn’t Christians, Jews, Scientologists who sent death threats to creators of “South Park”.

    Its not Christians or Jews who sent death threats to Danish cartoonists.

    Its not Christians or Jews demanding history books be rewritten because the history offends them.

    It’s not Christian or Jewish store clerks refusing to scan bacon at stores.

    It’s not Christian or Jewish taxi drivers who are refusing to pick up fares who have been drinking or carrying alcohol or have a service dog.

    Any questions on why Americans are anti-Muslim?

    • Mike

      Did Muslims cause ALL DOMESTIC terroism?

      Bath, Michigan Bombings
      Ludlow Massacre
      Bombing of Los Angeles Times building
      Attacks by the Jewish Defense League
      Wall Street bombing
      Unabomber attacks
      Oklahoma City bombing
      Centennial Olympic Park bombing
      2001 anthrax attacks
      Holocaust Memorial Museum shooting
      Austin IRS attack
      Murder of George Tiller
      Gabrielle Dee “Gabby” Giffords assassination attempt

    • Kwai Chang Caine

      Totally agree, They used to ride into camps in the dark ages and ask the village if they were catholic, If they said No they were tortured and decapatated!, Vlad the Impaler was Catholic!

    • dphilips

      Good Point!

    • Sam

      Radical Christians have made terrorist attacks on American soil (Oklahoma City)

      Radical Christians were at the heart of the Waco Texas incident.

      Christianity has, in the past, sworn to destroy a sovereign nation. On the other hand, the majority of Islam isn’t behind the wish to destroy America. Only a small, radical portion.

      The Satanic Verses wasn’t about Christians or Jews, so naturally they didn’t send death threats. Of course, there are Christians who think that J.K. Rowling should be burned as a witch.

      I’m pretty sure that Parker and Stone have gotten death threats from all walks of life.

      Not only are Christians demanding that history books be re-written, but they are actually in the process of doing so. It was a big story last year.

      By picking and choosing which horrors we look at, we can make any group look bad. Refusing to acknowledge that it’s only a small, radical group of Muslims who are a problem (just like it’s a small, radical group of Christians who are a problem) is bigotry, plain and simple.

      • max

        Very, very well said.

  • Dave

    Since when was the invasion of Iraq in the name of Christianity? Also, the House and Senate, controlled by the left at the time could have voted against the invasion of Iraq but didn’t so don’t blame the entire Iraq invasion on GW Bush.

    • Dave

      Didn’t say Christians were anything special. But don’t paint Islam as a peaceful religion either. Islam didn’t spread peacefully either.

      Last Crusade was over 700 years ago. (Don’t even try to tying the Iraq invasion to the Crusades). Vlad the Impaler lived over 600 years ago. Salem witch hunts over 300 years ago.

      Jihad is still being waged.

      • Sam

        And there are still Christians and Jews who want to wipe out Islam, and some of them act on this violently (while some of them merely spread bigoted bile wherever they go). But they’re a crazy, radical minority. Unfortunately, part of this crazy, radical minority is in control of Israel, just like some of the radical minority of Islam is in control of Iran.

        Islam, Christianity, and Judaism all have the same heart, the same teachings, the same potential for greatness. It’s only the nutjobs who turn that potential into something horrible.

      • Courage

        Yes, as long as Musilms are being killed, jihad will continue to be waged. Whatever cover is used, the fact is Muslim blood is spilled all over the world. And the world will not stop until Muslims give up their faith, this is the real issue. If every Muslim were to abandon their faith, then the blood will stop being spilled. It IS a matter of hatred of those who do not want their evil ways to change. Islam is a religion of submission to God, this is what Islam means. Only submission to God will bring peace. The fact is people do not want to submit to God, they want to continue in their wicked ways of destruction and Islam speaks against this. So as long as Muslims uphold the truth, they will be targeted, oppressed and killed, and jihad will continue to be waged. Everyone can defend themselves but Muslims are suppose to take it lying down? Jihad will be waged as long as oppression, tyranny and religious persecution is waged against Muslims. If you want to end jihad, then talk to your people and end the bloodshed among your own.

  • Oscar

    I do not believe we as a country are at war with anyone but Muslim extremists. They are the ones that declared war on us and have continued to attack us since 9/11. They have vowed to destroy america. That is quite differant than any other example show here or in the article.

  • MARK from

    Islam is like a cancer

    • Judge Not . . ..

      christianty IS a cancer

    • Mike

      Republican policy is worse than cancer.

  • dphilips

    The Christian Right are the Radicals! You Minnesotans are an extremely
    small minded lot

    • Aurora

      Don’t you loop me in with these people- you’re doing the exact same thing as they are to Muslims.

  • jjr

    why do the woman cover their faces>?

    • MNTom

      cause they a but ugly

  • jjr

    muslims still live in the dark ages today,the way they treat woman and oh yes who declared religous war

  • DeBlog: Sound Off On U.S. Attitudes Towards Islam « CBS Minnesota

    […] knew last night’s Good Question would generate some reaction, as we looked at whether American attitudes towards Muslims were fair. […]

  • mohammad


  • JC

    After 9/11 Americans are angry with, and afraid of, radical Islam just as they were angry and afraid of the Japanese after December 7th. Until moderate Islamic leaders OPENLY AND LOUDLY condemn all who call for the destruction of America, all of Islam is going to be viewed suspiciously.

    Ask an American who appeared to be of German or Japanese ancestry what it was like during and after WW 1 and WW2. It wasn’t fair, but given the angry in America at this time it is easy to understand how it happened.

    We were at war then and we are at war today. Why would anyone expect the majority of Americans today to view American Muslims who fail to condemn our enemies or assimilate to our culture with anything but anger and suspicion?

    • Sandy

      It is very unfair and you still condon it.

  • christian

    Well it seems quite evident it’s the religious tension which clouds most judgments here. If we do not learn from the past, focus on the present, and plan for the future people will continue this devastating path. And all the things these people have feared religiously will probably come to past. Yes we get it, most religions have done horrible things in the past in the name of that religion and some continue to do so. Does’t anyone out there feel the need to evolve beyond these antiquated religions and tend to the withered garden of humanity?

  • dan

    We are not anti-muslim, only anti terrorist. The Muslim community could do a better job of endearing themselves to our society by casting out the extremists among them and by embracing our existing culture. When you come to a new country, you don’t expect the society to cater to your needs, you learn to function within the existing culture. This does not prevent you from honoring the traditions of your religion or culture within your own families.

    • Sandy

      Tell that to American Indians

      • courage

        Right Sandy, guess dan didn’t consider his statement when it applies to him. This is a white supremist attitude where if you don’t do and live and be what we want, then there is a problem. It’s ethnocentric and if you look at the main fear mongering hate groups you will find they are made up of the good ole boys who are losing their false power. It’s interesting that the focus is on Arab and other non-white immigrants who happen to be Muslim. I guess it’s like a two-for-one deal. There are Muslims who have been in America for generations. There is more to it than what we are hearing…

  • RYAN

    If life is so unfair in America go somewhere else that will give you the same rights and free money!

    • Courage

      Free money? Muslims work and pay taxes along with everyone else. You fail to understand that there are Muslims who were born and raised here in the US just like you. Some of us have been here since slavery when we were brought over. The majority of Muslims in the US are African American. So why should we leave? We have fought for our civil rights and if it were not for the blood, sweat and tears of our ancestors, many immigrants would not enjoy the freedom they do today, Muslim or not. I’m not going anywhere. The fact is most white Americans feel threatened when their status is challenged and are always looking for a scapegoat, Arab and other immigrant Muslims are the new boogie man of their day.

  • mark from

    Animals, stoning women to death, stoning gays to death! It’s a cancer

  • tea

    YES….and can you BLAME US?

  • M.

    “Forty percent of Americans say they believe Islam promotes violence more than other religions, according to a Gallup Poll. So, does America have a racist attitude towards Islam?”

    How can one be racist towards Islam? It’s a religion, not an ethnicity or race. Just curious.

  • Kat

    I think we all need to read the Quran or Korean. Islam is not a religion it is a culture. 4.AN-NISA (WOMEN) 004.034
    SHAKIR: Men are the maintainers of women because Allah has made some of them to excel others and because they spend out of their property; the good women are therefore obedient, guarding the unseen as Allah has guarded; and (as to) those on whose part you fear desertion, admonish them, and leave them alone in the sleeping-places and beat them; then if they obey you, do not seek a way against them; surely Allah is High, Great.
    The Quran also teachs jihad(for example, Suras 4:74,76; 8:12,39-42;8:15,16;9;39 Though terrorism is supposedly forbidden in most Islam, we are seeing those who advocate it do so by appealing to a literal interpretation of the Quran. We who are Christians or Jews are simply the enemy because we are not Muslims. Allah, through believers, “shall cast terror into the hearts of the infidels” Sura 5:33; 8:12-14 Jihad is the terrorist war waged on the apostate Muslims, and the American and western “aggressors” against Islam.
    Americans before the Muslim September 11th weren’t trying to convert Muslims. We have been trying to work to unite our differences with religions and races.
    I think the real test from Allah or God is whether we are willing to live up to his call. Are we willing to confront evil, not with the sword, but with goodness and kindness?

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