As we’ve heard all year long, America is a dangerously Islamophobic country. Who can guess when we will have paid our national penance for the horrific wave of anti-Muslim prejudice that now threatens to tear apart the fabric of American society. Just take a look at these shocking year-end hate-crime statistics from New York state: “Crimes motivated by anti-Muslim sentiment rose from eight to 11,” while “Anti-Semitic incidents, which made up 37 percent of the reported hate crimes, were up 15 percent in one year, from 219 in 2008 to 251 in 2009.”
Little problem in the popular narrative, no? The point here is not to demand a rightful share of the grievance pie for Jews. It’s to bring desperately needed perspective to an irresponsible, runaway discussion on this fiction we call American Islamophobia. Even with 251 anti-Jewish hate crimes committed in New York this year, no one would declare a state of institutional or pervasive cultural anti-Semitism in the U.S. That a much smaller number of anti-Muslim hate crimes is the basis for national soul-searching and overwrought apologies constitutes a revealing prejudice on the part of those apologizing. In refusing to treat American Muslims as they do all other Americans, who can bear repulsive but isolated incidents of prejudice, they reveal an Islamophobia that is frankly shocking in scope. So bizarrely frightened of Muslims are these American apologizers, they’d sooner invent an imaginary America to scapegoat than simply treat all citizens equally and get on with their lives.