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Stein Blog Post for November 11

Before today’s reading, I thought I understood Islamophobia in America, including its complexities and origins; however, after today’s readings, I realize that there is a lot more history to it than I initially thought. Indeed, before tonight, I understood Islamophobia as something that arrived in America in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks. I believed that George Bush’s Administration played on existing fears of Muslim people to convince the American public to go to war and submit to more draconian security measures. I also believed that a different result in the election of 2000 could have drastically changed the American response to the attacks. After today’s readings, I have come to understand this is not true.

 

In the Elba article, the long history of Islamophobia is explained, dispelling my understanding that the fear of Muslims in America was birthed after 9/11. As Elba explains, immigration policy systemically discriminated against Muslims long before the year 2001. Indeed, Muslims were prohibited from becoming citizens for almost 200 years because they did not exhibit whiteness. Laws like these prohibit Muslims from becoming a part of the American community and further isolated them from Americans. Additionally, Muslims in media were often stereotyped. This made it difficult for Muslims to become viewed as modern citizens and excluded a large amount of Muslims who were not Arab.

 

In the Zinn chapter, he explains how these seeds of Islamophobia were exacerbated after the events of 9/11. While I originally thought Al Gore would have implemented extremely different policies in the aftermath of 9/11, Zinn contends that by painting Gore as a very similar candidate to Bush (with the exception of environmental policies). Later, Zinn explains that the rampant Islamophobia encouraged by the Bush Administration should not have been justified as retaliation for an incomprehensible act. Indeed, the chapter continues to reveal that American leaders in the 90s understood that a terrorist attack from the Middle East was a likely response to US foreign policy in the reason. The proof that US officials new that an attack was likely and still encouraged Islamophobia in the aftermath is proof that the US’s reaction to 9/11 wasn’t the start of Islamophobia in the country but rather a continuation of its history.

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4 Comments

  1. Zachary Andrews Zachary Andrews

    I completely agree with you, Michael. I too had no idea that Islamaphobia originated much earlier than I previously thought. I believed that Islamaphobia really started after the 9/11 terrorist attacks when really it started during the time of the Crusades. In reality, Islamaphobia had been in the United States for years; however, the 9/11 attacks inflated the now systemic stereotypes that Americans and other people have of Muslims.

  2. Charley Blount Charley Blount

    I also had a misguided understanding of the origins of Islamaphobia. While I knew I did not start with Donald Trump, I figured that most of this rhetoric started after 9/11. The Elba article disproved my previous understanding of Islamaphobia, With hindsight, it makes sense that religious, and racial differences would lead to tensions between white, Christian America and Muslims.

  3. Delaney Demaret Delaney Demaret

    I find it especially hard to learn about how long-lasting and pervasive Islamophobia is in American official policy, worsened and made even more extreme by a culture surrounding the acceptance of the Islamophobia. It became so prevalent in American conversation that the analysis of military presence in the Middle East was allowed to be based almost entirely on strategy, instead of humanity.

  4. Julia Leonardi Julia Leonardi

    Yes, I always wonder how Al Gore would’ve handled the situation. Americans never voted Bush out, though, which leads me to believe that they approved of the way things were handled. I am not too sure if Al Gore would’ve been too different in the ways of reacting because it was a major historical event, and it was something new America was experiencing, with no presetence before it.

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