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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

An anecdote about Islamophobia in America

This morning on Good Morning America, an Indian Muslim-American named Eboo Patel was strenuously emphasizing that mainstream Islam in America has nothing to do with the extremists. He is very well-spoken and I have no doubt that he is sincere. (video)

The interviewer, Robin Roberts, asked Eboo whether he had any personal experiences of feeling discriminated against in recent weeks. The only example he gave was that his mother called him and suggested that perhaps his kids' names sounded too Muslim, and she was worried about them being bullied in school.

While this is just a single anecdote, it indicates that the real problem is not that ordinary Americans discriminate against ordinary Muslims, but the media playing up the idea that redneck right-wing Republicans are out there harassing members of that faith. The number of incidents of anti-Muslim activities is diminishingly tiny - dwarfed by anti-semtitic incidents in America. Yet the media has been obsessing over this non-issue, and they have been acting as fear-mongers, causing people like Eboo's mom to worry over nothing.

Many American public schools are filled with kids whose names represent dozens of cultures; the fear that someone named "Khalil" would be bullied because of his name is ridiculous. This unfounded fear is purely because of the media frenzy over "Islamophobia" and has little to do with reality.