GOOD

Americans Are More Afraid of Muslims Now that Bin Laden Is Dead

Some optimists thought Osama's death would help combat Islamophobia. But a new survey reveals it's only made it worse.

When Osama bin Laden was pronounced dead in early May, the entire country erupted into one big frat party celebrating the demise of the United States' number one enemy. Progressive publications reminded everyone that the death of a man was no reason to celebrate, while others pointed out this may bring a sense of peace to 9/11's victims. One line in President Obama's nine-minute speech sought to distance the al Qaeda leader from the rest of the Islamic world: "Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader; he was a mass murderer of Muslims." Optimists hoped that Bin Laden's death was not just the culmination of a decade-long witch hunt, but also the end of some people's irrational prejudice toward Muslims.


It turns out that was wishful thinking. A new survey conducted by several scholars found that Americans' fear and distrust of Muslims has significantly climbed. In the weeks before Bin Laden’s death, nearly half of respondents described Muslim Americans as “trustworthy” and “peaceful.” After bin Laden's death, only one-third of Americans agreed with those positive descriptors. Americans were also less likely to oppose limitations on Muslim Americans' civil liberties and more likely to agree that Muslims living in the United States “increased the likelihood of a terrorist attack.” And one in three people agreed that “Muslims are mostly responsible for creating the religious tension that exists in the United States today,” up from a bad enough ratio of one in five.

If you think these people are just conservatives becoming right-wing zealots, think again. The survey found that most of the changes in opinion occurred among political liberals and moderates, whose views shifted to become more like those of conservatives.

The authors of the survey surmised that the increased media coverage of Bin Laden's death reminded people of 9/11 and dredged up old fears. But it's not just about a traumatic memory of one particular event. Racial and religious profiling has been integral to the function of the Department of Homeland Security. One in five people think Obama is a Muslim. Can you blame people for being scared? Bin Laden's death wouldn't have been such an affirming event if these ingrained policies and public attitudes weren't already in place. Some young Americans didn't even know who Bin Laden was at the time of his deathbut they sure picked up on our celebration of the event.

This survey is a sober reminder that Bin Laden's death hardly signals a win against Islamophobia. Rather, our collective response affirms just how much work we still need to do to fight it.

photo (cc) by Flickr user pamhule

Articles
Photo by Josh Couch on Unsplash

Christopher Columbus, Alexander Hamilton, William Shakespeare, and Sir Walter Scott are getting company. Statues of the famous men are scattered across Central Park in New York City, along with 19 others. But they'll finally be joined by a few women.

Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Sojourner Truth are the subjects of a new statue that will be on display along The Mall, a walkway that runs through the park from 66th to 72nd street. It will be dedicated in August of next year, which is fittingly the 100-year anniversary of the 19th Amendment that granted women the right to vote.

Currently, just 3% of statues in New York City are dedicated to women. Out of 150 statues of historical figures across the city, only five statues are of historical women, including Joan of Arc, Golda Meir, Gertrude Stein, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Harriet Tubman.

Keep Reading Show less
promo-homepage

It's easy to become calloused to everyday headlines with messages like, "the world is ending" and "everything is going extinct." They're so prevalent, in fact, that the severity of these statements has completely diminished to the point that no one pays them any attention. This environmental negativity (coined "eco-phobia") has led us to believe that all hope is lost for wildlife. But luckily, that isn't the case.

Historically, we have waited until something is near the complete point of collapse, then fought and clawed to bring the species numbers back up. But oftentimes we wait so long that it's too late. Creatures vanish from the Earth altogether. They go extinct. And even though I don't think for a single second that we should downplay the severity of extinction, if we can flip this on its head and show that every once in a while a species we have given up on is actually still out there, hanging on by a thread against all odds, that is a story that deserves to be told. A tragic story of loss becomes one about an animal that deserves a shot at preservation and a message of hope the world deserves to hear.

As a wildlife biologist and tracker who has dedicated his life to the pursuit of animals I believe have been wrongfully deemed extinct, I spend most of my time in super remote corners of the Earth, hoping to find some shred of evidence that these incredible creatures are still out there. And to be frank, I'm pretty damn good at it!

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet

For more than 20 years. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) has served the citizens of Maine in the U.S. Senate. For most of that time, she has enjoyed a hard-fought reputation as a moderate Republican who methodically builds bridges and consensus in an era of political polarization. To millions of political observers, she exemplified the best of post-partisan leadership, finding a "third way" through the static of ideological tribalism.

However, all of that has changed since the election of Donald Trump in 2016. Voters in Maine, particularly those who lean left, have run out of patience with Collins and her seeming refusal to stand up to Trump. That frustration peaked with the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

Keep Reading Show less
Politics
NHM Vienna/Hans Reschreiter

Wealth inequality has been a hot topic of discussion as of late, but it's something that's occurred all throughout history. Class structure is a complicated issue, especially when you consider that haves and have nots have been in existence for over 4,000 years.

A study published in Science took a look at over 100 late Neolithic and early Bronze Age skeletons found in a burial site in southern Germany. The study "shed light on the complexity of social status, inheritance rules, and mobility during the Bronze Age." Partly by looking at their teeth and the artifacts they were buried with, researchers were able to discover that wealth inequality existed almost 4,000 years ago. "Our results reveal that individual households lasting several generations consisted of a high-status core family and unrelated low-status individuals, a social organization accompanied by patrilocality and female exogamy, and the stability of this system over 700 years," the study said.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture
via Truthout.org / Flickr and Dimitri Rodriguez / Flickr

Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign looks to be getting a huge big shot in the arm after it's faced some difficulties over the past few weeks.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a leading voice in the Democratic parties progressive, Democratic Socialist wing, is expected to endorse Sanders' campaign at the "Bernie's Back" rally in Queens, New York this Saturday.

Fellow member of "the Squad," Ilhan Omar, endorsed him on Wednesday.

Keep Reading Show less
Politics