There’s a lot of talk going around about the “rising Islamophobia” in America. I guess this is the latest rephrasing of the old “fear of an anti-Islamic backlash” line that’s been tossed around for years and years. I don’t blame them; that was getting tiresome.
In the last couple of days, we’ve had a drunk guy attempt to cut the throat of a Muslim taxi driver and another drunk guy stumble into a mosque, shout imprecations, and whizz all over some prayer rugs. Let’s look at the FBI statistics for religiously-based hate crimes reported from 2000 to 2008 (the last year we have reports for):
Anti-Christian (cumulative): 115
Anti-Christian (cumulative): 73
Anti-Christian (cumulative): 108
Anti-Christian (cumulative): 125
Anti-Christian (cumulative): 95
Anti-Christian (cumulative): 115
Anti-Christian (cumulative): 135
Anti-Christian (cumulative): 118
Anti-Christian (cumulative): 131
It would be nice if we had more recent numbers, but the above is remarkable: even with the skewing effect of the 9/11, the number of anti-Islamic attacks never equalled even half of the anti-Jewish hate crimes.
So, where is this huge anti-Muslim backlash we’ve been warned about for years and years and years?
On the other hand, let’s look at some other incidents that might or might not have been classified as “hate crimes” in that same time period. This is far from a comprehensive list.
September 2001 — 9/11 attacks. Over 3,000 people killed by 19 radical Muslims in four separate plane hijackings.
December 2001 — Richard Reid attempts to detonate a bomb in his shoes an an American Airlines flight bound for Miami while over the Atlantic. The plane carried 197 people.
July 2002 — Hesham Mohamed Hadaye opens fire at the El Al ticket booth at Los Angeles International Airport, killing two and wounding four.
October 2002 — Ten people killed, three wounded by the “Beltway Snipers.”
March 2003 — Hasan Karim Akbar (United States Army) throws hand grenades into his superiors’ tent, killing two officers.
March 2006 — Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar drives his SUV through the UNC Chapel Hill campus to “avenge the deaths of Muslims worldwide” and “punish” the United States.
June 2006 — Mujtaba Rabbani Jabbar opens fire in a theater just outside Baltimore and starts shooting, killing one.
July 2006 — Naveed Afzal Haq walks into a Seattle Jewish charity and starts shooting. One dead, five wounded.
November 2009 — Major Nidal Malik Hassan opens fire at Fort Hood, killing 13 and wounding 30.
December 2009 — Abdulsalam Al-Zahrani stabs to death a professor at the Binghamton University.
December 2009 — Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab attempts to detonate a bomb in his underwear while aboard an airliner carrying 290 people while over Detroit.
May 2010 — Faisal Shahzad sets a defective car bomb in Times Square. FBI tests later indicate that had the bomb not fizzled, it could have killed hundreds, if not thousands.
As I said, hardly a complete list. But certainly illustrative.
Now, what’s that all mean?
This could be tough for some of our regular detractors, but there is a very carefully nuanced point here.
I am not saying that all Muslims are terrorists.
I’m not saying that most Muslims are terrorists.
I am saying that if you have a terrorist, then the odds are statistically significant that he or she is a Muslim.
I am also saying that far more “hate crimes” (and I’m lumping religiously-motivated terrorist attacks in there) are committed by Muslims against non-Muslims, than by non-Muslims against Muslims.
A phobia is defined as “an irrational, intense, and persistent fear.
If you’re worried about terrorism, and you associate terrorism with Islam more than with, say, the Amish or the Pastafarians or the John Birch Society or the Freemasons, that’s hardly irrational.