Hyphen magazine - Asian American arts, culture, and politics


New Report Documents Islamophobia and Racism in America Since 9/11

SAALT (South Asian Americans Leading Together) released a report last week called "From Macacas to Turban Toppers: The Rise in Xenophobic and Racist Rhetoric in American Political Discourse." The report documents the rise of Islamophobia in political discourse in America: specifically, hateful and racist remarks by American politicians about Muslim Americans, South Asians, Arabs and Sikhs, and their effects since 9/11. If you've ever wanted a resource for hate-mongering and Islamophobia in America since 9/11, this is it.

The report is divided into three parts. The first collects intolerant remarks by politicians against South Asians, Arabs and Muslim Americans. The second focuses on remarks targeted against South Asian and Muslims Americans running for political office in America. And the third suggests how community leaders can respond to Islamophobia. The report even contains a timeline of domestic policies impacting South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, and Arab American communities since 9/11 at the end.

In addition to the infamous "macaca" and the recent "turban topper" incidents, the report includes many other truly vile examples of hate-mongering, such as:

In March 2010, Congresswoman Sue Myrick of Charlotte, North Carolina issued a mailing on campaign letterhead urging supporters to attend a conference held by the organization Act! For America. Act! For America’s leaders have made anti-Muslim comments, such as, 'Their foot baths, I love pissing in them... The Quran makes worthless toilet paper. It just kind of scratches my ass a little bit ... To me, I like desecrating their holy stuff.' Other statements of the organization included sentiments that an American Muslim 'cannot be a loyal citizen;' Islam is the 'real enemy;' '[e]very practicing Muslim is a radical Muslim'; and 'Islam is the problem.' (p. 6).

In my last post I claimed that America (or, at least a significant portion of America) is indeed Islamophobic. The mere fact, I argued, that many Americans do not believe that Muslim Americans even have the right to build the Park 51 Community Center shows that they deny that Muslim Americans are Americans at all. But I also hesitated in passing judgment, largely because I did not have before me a clear ledger of the facts -- a friend had, in fact, remarked to me a few days earlier on the subject of Islamophobia that, sans knowledge of the history and context of hate against Muslims in America, it is extremely difficult to pass a determinate and well-founded judgment.

SAALT's report is such a historical ledger.

About The Author

Saif Ansari

Saif Ansari graduated recently from UCLA with a BA in philosophy and is now an MA student at NYU, also in philosophy. He is interested mostly in political philosophy, ethics and law. Saif wrote for two years as a columnist for UCLA's student-run newspaper The Daily Bruin. He wrote for and edited several other publications at UCLA and maintains a personal blog at www.sansari.wordpress.com. Follow him on Twitter @vetoshield.

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