By Conor Friedersdorf
May 4 2012, 3:52 PM ET 19
Several conservative writers are heavily invested in arguing otherwise, but they don’t have the facts on their side.
Over at Commentary, Jonathan Tobin complains that “most of the mainstream media still takes it as a given that there is an ongoing and brutal post-9/11 backlash against Muslims in America that fuels discrimination against followers of Islam.” I don’t know that I’ve ever seen the backlash characterized as “brutal” in the mainstream media, or that anyone has bothered to actually quantify media coverage on the subject. It would be helpful to have links to the specific coverage Tobin is complaining about. But I am among those who thinks that Muslims face both informal prejudice and are discriminated against by the state, while Tobin says “there is virtually no evidence for this assertion and much empirical data to argue for the opposite conclusion.”
He goes on to cite census data showing that the number of Muslims in America is growing, up 1.6 million in the 10-year period that ended in 2010. “Is it possible or even likely that Islam would be thriving in the United States if it were not a society that is welcoming Muslims with open arms and providing a safe environment for people to openly practice this faith?” he asks. “The answer is an obvious no.” Before concluding he offers three additional arguments to consider:
- “Every new survey about American society continues to show there are no obstacles to Muslim advancement or systematic ill treatment.”
- “Those who make these false claims argue that law enforcement activities seeking to root out Islamist support for terrorism either abroad or at home constitutes a form of discrimination. But such actions, such as the New York Police Department’s surveillance of mosques or community centers where Islamists have congregated, are reasonable reactions to a real threat that deserves the attention of the authorities, not the product of arbitrary bias. Nor do they threaten the vast majority of Muslims who are hard working, law-abiding citizens.”
- “America is not perfect, but it is a far safer place to practice Islam, or any other faith, than almost all Muslim countries, where religious-based discrimination is commonplace and dissent is ruthlessly wiped out. The backlash myth may die hard, but it remains a myth.”