As Rep. Peter King prepares to hold hearings to investigate homegrown Islamic radicalization next month, opponents of the investigation have fallen back on a familiar defense mechanism: they allege that the hearings will spur a “backlash” of hate crimes against Muslims.
The Washington Post reported that the upcoming hearings “have touched off a wave of panic throughout the U.S. Muslim community, which has spent much of the past year battling what it sees as a rising tide of Islamophobia.”
At the New York Daily News, Douglas Murray noted the recurrent fears of anti-Muslim “backlash”:
Across the media and blogosphere, pundits and certain politicians have been warning of the “fear” that Muslims are said to be feeling about the hearings. Not a witness has been confirmed, but self-appointed Muslim “leaders” have expressed their fears of the mythical “backlash” that is meant to be always about to occur.
Murray makes a good point. Just a few examples of incidents that so-called advocates for the Muslim community claimed would lead to a “backlash” in recent years include the Iraq war; when the FBI uncovered an Islamic terrorist attack in New Jersey; when a professor with terrorist links was put on trial; when Americans were beheaded by Islamic extremists; the sale of “Left Behind” video games; President Bush’s use of the term “Islamic fascism”; and the movie United 93.
Of course, the most recent incident that was supposed to spark a backlash was the public anger at the Islamic center near Ground Zero last summer. “You saw some anti-Muslim views after 9/11, but they were relegated to the fringes of society where they should be,” Ibrahim Hooper, communications director for CAIR, told the Christian Science Monitor on Sept. 10. “Now anti-Muslim sentiment has really been mainstreamed.”
But, as Jonathan pointed out last November, that doesn’t match up with the facts. Hate crimes against Muslims reached a high after the 9/11 attacks, but they have dropped steadily — and significantly — since then.
The backlash theory has become nothing more than an easy way for some people to shut down uncomfortable conversations they don’t want to have. And this isn’t a debate they’re going to be able to put off any longer.