Data on anti-Muslim racism being distorted for politics
American Muslims are being exploited like pawns in a giant political football game between the left and the right. The data is being twisted to reflect the needs of the political groups at the expense of Muslims and Arabs in America. Just look at the statistics
By Ray Hanania
Each side wants to twist and distort data regarding anti-Muslim discrimination to suit their own agenda, and narrowing it to address the generic concerns of “Muslims” while avoiding the more controversial issues of Arabs that leads to an unwanted discussion of anti-Palestinian biases.
The concern isn’t about what’s best for Muslims, or even for Arabs in America. Keep in mind that most Americans don’t distinguish between Arab Muslims and Arab Christians so when someone says they hate Muslims, they also mean they hate Christian Arabs, too.
Click here to read my column in the Arab News on
Obama’s failed record and his failure to protect
Palestinian rights during his term in office
The concern is about politics, and how politicians might exploit the issue to improve their standing and undermine the standing of their political foes.
The sad thing, though, is that most Muslims and Arabs don’t realize they are being taken advantage off for political reasons. They think that when someone on the “right” or the “left” speaks out against anti-Muslim bigotry, they are taking a righteous and moral stand against bigotry, discrimination and racism by speaking out in defense of Muslims in America.
That is not the case, though. That is not what is being done.
All you have to do is examine the data released recently by the FBI to know that Muslims and Arabs are being “played.”
Here is a chart of FBI data compiled by the reputable PEW Research Center that follows the ups and downs of anti-Muslim discrimination and hate crimes:
What do you see in the chart?
Politicians and their news media allies want you to see how incidents of anti-Muslim hate assaults have increased dramatically during one year, 2015. That year shows the hate assaults against “Muslims” has spiked and is slightly higher than the benchmark of increased anti-Muslim and anti-Arab hatred that followed int he wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorism. The only difference, and it is significant, is that the incidents of hate-driven assault took place in a very tight period of 10 weeks at the end of the year immediately after the terrorism.
The data for 2015 spans the entire year.
Also keep in mind that when the United States reported anti-Muslim hate in 2001, they are including hate-driven assaults against individuals who not only were Muslims, but also Arab, many of whom were Christian Arab. Policing agencies in 2001 didn’t distinguish between Arabs, Muslims, Christian Arabs, Muslim Arabs, or non-Arab Muslims.
Activists on both sides of the political fence, especially those who supported the presidential candidacy of Hillary Clinton the hoped-for successor to President Barack Obama., assert the spike in anti-Muslim hate assaults is the direct result of the campaign rhetoric of Republican candidate and now president-elect Donald J. Trump.
Trump launched his candidacy in June of 2015, but the heat of the election rhetoric didn’t boil until the beginning of 2016. It will be interesting to see the data for this year, 2016.
The truth of the data is more disconcerting, and is being ignored.
America is a society driven by racism and discrimination. Racism and discrimination against Muslims and Arabs has always been very high, but it was not fully documented prior to Sept. 11, 2001. The disturbing aspect of the data that is being pushed aside for political reasons is the reality that the worst acts of anti-Muslim hate, not even including anti-Arab hatred against Christian and secular Arabs, took place not during the Clinton-Trump election fight, but during the first seven years of the Obama administration.
The attempt to narrow the public’s focus on 2015 misses the bigger picture that anti-Muslim hate has been steadily increasing since it jumped dramatically in 2009, when Obama was elected president. In the prior seven years, the average incidence of hate assaults was 36 per year. But during the Obama administration, the average incidence of hate assaults has been 61 per year.
That’s almost double.
Is the cause of the hate assaults really the political rhetoric of one candidate in 2015 and 2016, as some selfish political activists are trying to argue? Or, has the increase in hate assaults been the direct result of a societal trend in which Muslims, and Arabs, have been vilified across the board?
The truth is that the one common denominator driving hate against Muslims and Arabs and the increased assaults has been the racism and discrimination by the mainstream news media. The news media has grabbed extremist rhetoric from both the left and the right and emboldened it on the front pages of their news media, in print, on radio and especially on television talk shows.
The mainstream American news media is the engine that has been driving hatred and racism against Arabs and Muslims in America for years and it is the mainstream American news media that has fueled the increases, not just int he past 18 months of the presidential election campaign but since Sept. 11, 2001.
It isn’t just their writing which has wrongly stereotyped all Arabs and Muslims as “violent terrorists,” but it has been their practices, too. The media’s refusal to hire Arabs and Arab Muslims on their staffs to write not only news and feature stories about the Arab and Muslim community in America, but Opinion-Commentary (Op-Eds) that often define how Americans “see” important societal issues and trends.
The mainstream American news media fuels the hate by keeping the views and opinions and the everyday experiences of our community out of their coverage and off their newspaper pages and their cable TV talkshows and their major network TV news coverage, and off of radio.
SiriusXM has been the most anti-Arab slotting only one Arab to host a show when they should be slotting several to give the Arab and Muslim community a real voice.
The mainstream American news media is the enemy of justice. They are the real “Alt Right” that promotes hatred, bigotry, racism that enables bullying, assaults and even killings.
Arabs and Muslims are presented in the mainstream American news media as the villains, by focusing on the extremism of a small handful of fanatics. In contrast, the mainstream American news media ignores the everyday achievements of Arabs and Muslims. They fail to report on the positive contributions millions of Arabs and Muslims make in America everyday.
An example is in Chicago where Mayor Rahm Emanuel spoke about respecting diversity and people of all faiths and races and ethnicities. But in truth, his administration continues to fail to address the just needs of American Arabs and Arab-Muslims. Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner is no better.
It was Rauner who signed into legislation discriminatory legislation that punishes Arabs and Muslims who criticize Israel, a foreign country. The legislation was introduced by two Democratic state legislators who claim today to be supportive of Muslims –State Rep. Ira Silverstein (D-8th District) and State Rep. Sara Feigenholtz (D-12th District) that punishes any organization that criticizes or condemns or boycotts the illegal settlements Israel has created in the occupied West Bank of Palestine.
How can they claim to support Muslim rights while denying fundamental rights of free speech to Arabs and Muslims who challenge the policies of a foreign country that discriminates against Arabs and Muslims?
It’s hypocrisy at its worst.
These hate-filled policies didn’t happen under President-Elect Donald Trump. They took place under the policies of outgoing President Barack Obama, his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and the very Democrats who are attacking Trump blaming him for society’s ills.
Wake up people.
It doesn’t mean President Trump has all the answers. It doesn’t mean President Trump won’t make mistakes. But it does mean that the political BS of the Left is worse than the reality of what is being said today.
(Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and columnist with the Arab News. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.)