American culture’s view of American Muslims and Islam is steadily deteriorating under an onslaught of “bigotry” on cable news shows, newspaper op-ed pages and in the blogosphere, an Arab-American activist told an audience at Tulane University here Tuesday. That’s a significant shift, said Hussein Ibish, founder of the Foundation for Arab-American Leadership in Washington, D.C.
Since 9/11, he said, commentators such as Michelle Malkin, Ann Coulter, Charles Krauthammer, Daniel Pipes and David Horowitz have transferred old anti-Arab stereotypes to Islam, in a stream of “incredibly bigoted commentary” that would not have been tolerated before then.
In this context, Ibish said, the West sees Islam as bent on its destruction and American Muslims as suspected allies who cannot credibly deny otherwise. Thus, ethnic profiling becomes reasonable and forced internment or mandatory identification of Muslims becomes a potential remedy, he said.
While most of the anti-Islamic rhetoric comes from the right, it occasionally comes from the left as well, he said.
Finally, a student of American popular culture would find that anti-Islamic rhetoric sounds vaguely familiar, Ibish said. That’s because in tone and substance it almost exactly tracks the anti-Semitic messages that filled American culture between the world wars.