Americans Don’t Really Believe There Is Such a Thing as a Moderate Muslim

The Koran-burning minister and the Ground Zero “mosque” have lanced the boil of American Islamophobia which had been building since 9/11 and now the pus is oozing out. While I haven’t been able to locate a poll to authenticate it, my internal zeitgeist gauge (however idiosyncratically calibrated) informs me that many Americans labor under the impression that most Muslims seek the destruction of the United States.

First it behooves us to acknowledge that since 9/11 a number of Muslim charities operating in America have been exposed as fronts for Islamists. Also, at the risk of being politically incorrect, I maintain that progressives delude themselves if they think that cheers weren’t raised in some American mosques after 9/11, if not from the pulpit at least in back rooms. As for Muslims “hating” America, neither was that entirely nonexistent. This 2006 comment from a forum sheds light on those feelings (“sics” where appropriate.)

A few weeks ago an American I met at a friends house asked a much repeated query, “Why do you the Muslims hate the Americans?” To which I answered in the same way as all the preceding instances in which this question was posed to me: “We don’t hate the Americans, we might disagree with a certain US policy and dislike recent American actions in the Muslim world but we surely don’t hate the American people.”

The American who interrogated me was clearly not convinced with my answer and secretly I wasn’t either. The truth is that at present the Muslims hate America and now, they hate not only its policymakers but most of the American people since they have proven recently without a shadow of doubt that they agree with their elite by voting back into office, by a comfortable majority, the Bush administration in spite of it’s obvious record of lies and abuse of power.

Again, just a hunch, but Americans seem to think that Muslims support terrorism, when in fact such feelings are rare unless terrorism is defined as resistance to Americans in Iraq. The reason Americans labor under this impression is not only 9/11, but, perhaps, because they think that Muslims didn’t speak out with enough frequency and force after 9/11. But, begins an article on About.com by one Huda . . .

In the aftermath of the violence and horror of 9/11, criticisms were made that Muslim leaders and organizations were not outspoken enough in denouncing acts of terrorism. Muslims are constantly perplexed by this accusation, as we heard (and continue to hear) nothing but unequivocal and unified condemnations by the leaders of our community, both in the United States and worldwide.

Huda then cites statements compiled by over 50 professors of Islamic and Middle-Eatern studies from the U.S. and Canada assembled under the title, Scholars of Islam and the Tragedy of September 11th. Also, a University of North Carolina professor compiled an extensive list of his own: Islamic Statements Against Terrorism in the Wake of the September 11 Mass Murders. Meanwhile The Chairman of Saudi Arabia’s Supreme Judicial Council said:

Islam rejects such acts, since it forbids killing of civilians even during times of war, especially if they are not part of the fighting. A religion that views people of the world in such a way cannot in any sense condone such criminal acts, which require that their perpetrators and those who support them are held accountable.

But most Americans either don’t remember or weren’t exposed to these condemnations. Jason Linkins at Huffington Post outlines what we’re more used to hearing (emphasis added):

Yesterday afternoon, the leader of a microscopic cult of idiots who announced plans to stage an “international” day of Quran burning in Gainesville, Florida held a press conference, for a rapt media which decided that his moronic plans were the single most important thing going on in America. At that press conference . . . this cult leader lied to everyone who was watching, telling them that he was going to call off his 9/11 book burning festival because he had successfully reached a deal with the people behind the Park51 community center in Lower Manhattan, in which they would move their facility away from the site of the World Trade Center.

In other words, while those media outlets to which most Americans are exposed may have reported the above statements, they didn’t feature them prominently. They’re not, as it were, sexy enough. In a recent post at Save the News, Libby Reinish explains the rules that the media play by.

Take a look at the “if it bleeds, it leads” approach expressed with chilling precision in the submission guidelines of the self-described “backbone of the world’s information system” — the Associated Press. . . . For example, here are AP Minnesota’s guidelines for journalists looking to pitch stories:

  • Train wrecks, airplane crashes, drownings, fatal auto accidents (if there are multiple victims or unusual circumstances) and unusual accidental deaths;
  • Meetings where action of regional or statewide interest is taken or where a prominent person speaks [a rare respite from the blood -- RW];
  • Riots, demonstrations, strikes;
  • Major fires (involves loss of life, public disruption or destruction of a structure/site known statewide), explosions, oil or other chemical spills. Unusual bank robberies (exceptionally violent, hostages taken, serial robber, etc.);
  • Weather news, including ice and hail storms, heavy snows, damaging rains and floods, record heat and cold, tornadoes. . . .

AP Ohio offers this twist:

Single-victim murders that involve unusual circumstances, a prominent person or happen outside the metropolitan areas, where murders are common. . . . No: Routine one-victim murders in big cities.

    In other words, until American Muslims hold a rally and burn an effigy of Osama bin Laden — or, better yet, burn the Koran themselves — Muslim denunciations of terrorism will never receive widespread exposure. And most Americans will persist in believing that most Muslims seek the destruction of the United Sates.