If you happened to listen to National Public Radio’s Talk of the Nation show this past Wednesday, you were enlightened about an aspect of the killing of Osama bin Laden that perhaps you hadn’t thought about. According to Wajahat Ali of the Center for American Progress, bin Laden’s death was feeding one of the country’s most serious problems: Islamophobia. From the perspective of those whose job it is to feed the media’s obsession with the existence of a mythical backlash against Americans Muslims since 9/11, the end of Al Qaeda’s leader was just another source of prejudice that, in this telling, would be focused on Pakistani-Americans.
The problem with this argument is that violence against Muslims in this country, though deplorable, is rare. As national statistics have shown for a decade, hate crimes against Muslims have remained few and are actually dwarfed by the number of instances of violence against Jews. The notion of a post 9/11 backlash against Muslims, though promoted constantly in the national media, is still more myth than reality.
But homegrown Islamist terrorism is no myth. Congressman Peter King’s hearings last month on the subject were condemned as an outbreak of prejudice with no basis in fact. But the number of terror plots by extremist Muslims uncovered by the authorities continues to grow. This week another was added to that list when two New York City Muslims were charged yesterday with conspiring to blow up synagogues in the city. While they may not have been connected to a terror organization, their goal was clear: they just wanted to kill as many Jews as possible.
What drove these two to the crime? They were convinced Muslims were being mistreated around the world and believed Jews were responsible. Fortunately, they were stopped before they were able to commit an act of mass murder. But we need to ask where such people are getting their ideas and who is fomenting this sense of violent grievance. Unfortunately, the mainstream media and even most of our political class are spooked that even asking these questions will lead to charges of Islamophobia. Cases like these as dismissed as insignificant. They are forgetten until the next instance of homegrown Muslim terrorism.
While people like Wajahat Ali are not supporting terrorism, the false narrative about an anti-Muslim backlash that he and others, such as the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), have successful promoted causes Americans to turn their heads away from the real problem: the rise of Islamist ideology among a minority of American Muslims. Until we stop worrying about a mythical wave of anti-Muslim prejudice and start focusing on stopping the Islamists, instances of homegrown terror plots will increase. So will the chances that one of them will succeed.