Who’s to blame for anti-Islamic sentiments?

Matt Patterson Executive Director, Center for Worker Freedom, ATR
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The chattering class is all atwitter over a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll which found that “49 percent of all Americans say they have generally unfavorable opinions of Islam, compared with 37 percent who say they have favorable ones,” the highest such unfavorable rating since pollsters began asking the question in October 2001, just one month after the assault on the Twin Towers.

David Gregory’s reaction was typical of his class, as he repeatedly asked his guests on NBC’s Meet the Press what could be behind this rising anti-Islamic sentiment.  That the behavior of Muslims may be responsible seems to have not occurred to him.  (On the other hand, if ever some nut goes crazy and commits an act of violence, and it is then learned that he once listened to The Rush Limbaugh Show, the media trip over themselves to declare that conservative ideas and personalities “fuel hatred.”)

Consider: Since the slaughter of nearly 3,000 Americans — by Muslims acting in the name of Islam — on September 11th, Americans have been treated to a string of attacks and failed attacks by Muslims on American soil: Faisal Shahzad and his Times Square truck bomb; Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who tried to bring down a Northwest flight with a bomb on Christmas Day; Nidal Malik Hasan, who reportedly shouted “Allahu Akbar!” as he opened fire and murdered thirteen at Ft. Hood; John Allen Muhammad, who killed ten and terrorized Washington, D.C as the “Beltway Sniper.”  And on, and on . . .

This is to say nothing of the never-ending images of Muslims the world over blowing themselves up in an orgy of suicide and murder, of Muslim leaders — clerical and political — perpetually burning the Stars and Stripes and leading chants of “Death to America!” while calling for the genocide of an American ally.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but in the face of this relentless violence and hatred, Americans have been heroically, preternaturally tolerant.  More than is healthy, in my view.  Indeed, the astonishing thing is not that suspicion of Islam is growing in America, but that it has taken so long to do so.

For my own part, since 9/11 I have struggled to give average Muslims the benefit of the doubt.  I have thought and hoped that the vast majority of Muslims neither condone nor support violence done in the name of their God.  And yet, I wonder — where are the mass demonstrations of Muslims condemning such violence?  Where are the American Muslims visibly and forcefully standing up to the sickness in their own communities?  Where is the jihad against the jihadis?

Instead, from moderate Muslims we often get condemnations of America combined with barely-veiled threats.  Reza Aslan, for example, recently wrote for NPR “I am a liberal, progressive, secularized American Muslim.  But when I see that bigotry against my faith — my very identity — has become so commonplace in America that it is shaping into a wedge issue for the midterm elections, I can barely control my anger.  I can’t imagine how the next generation of American Muslim youth will react to such provocations.”

Excuse me, but what provocations?  Americans have bent over backwards to accommodate their Muslim neighbors.  There was a near complete absence of hate crimes against Muslims after 9/11.  Instead, Americans after 9/11 elected the first Muslim to Congress and elevated to the presidency a man with Islamic roots (Obama’s father was a Kenyan Muslim) and a distinctly Muslim sounding name.

You know what is a real provocation?  Attempting to build a monument to Allah on soil soaked with the blood of thousands murdered in his name.  If Americans allow a mosque to be built on Ground Zero, it will not be an act of tolerance.  It will be a symptom of societal decay and a sign of civilizational capitulation.

Muslims, at least, will see it as exactly that.

Matt Patterson is senior editor at the Capital Research Center and the author of “Union of Hearts: The Abraham Lincoln & Ann Rutledge Story.” Mpatterson.column@gmail.com.