It’s been six days since we learned that the perpetrators of the Boston Marathon bombings are Chechen Muslims (but not “dark skinned” Chechen Muslims), and the Festival of Muslim Bashing and Fear-Mongering is just getting underway.
The vanguard (or, as I like to call them, the Jihad Fearwagon) are the usual cast of characters: professional freaker-outer Pam Geller, professional bigoted embarrassing uncle Michael Savage, professional Ayn Rand fetishist and a guy who was against drones before he was for them Sen. Rand Paul, professional against terrorism unless it’s perpetrated by white Catholic Irishmen Rep. Peter King, and professional Fox News embarrassingly stupid “liberal” Bob Beckel.
The consensus opinion of this meeting of the minds is as follows:
1. Muslims should be racially profiled. Never mind that the Boston Marathon bombers are literally Caucasian (from Chechnya and Dagestan, both of which are in the Caucasus region). Never mind that American Muslims are racially diverse. Consensus: Profile them, however you can, because they’re bound to blow something up.
2. Deport or “cut off” Muslims from coming to or being in the United States.
3. Surveil mosques with listening devices to gather evidence of plots against America.
In the echo chamber of the far-right-wing media, this is what defense of the “Homeland” entails.
For those of us who remember what it was like to live in just a plain old republic, rather than a “Homeland,” and who might have seen the awful but eerily prescient 1998 Denzel Washington and Annette Bening film The Siege (in which an America paralyzed by fear of terrorism enacts racial profiling, indefinite detention, torture, and surveillance of Muslims), the Jihad Fearwagon has now become reality. This is especially the case given the widespread antipathy to Islam in this country, and given how much Islamophobia translates into actual hate crimes, both against American Muslims and against other folks who- to the hateful and the ignorant- “look like” them.
With this in mind, here are three ways to rebut the Jihad Fearwagon, wherever you see it careening through the streets of America, because — depressingly — people need evidence of this stuff:
1. Highly religious American Muslims are more likely to believe that participation in the American political system is in sync with their faith than non-observant or slightly observant Muslims.
2. American Muslims are more likely to feel positively about the country than the rest of the general population. They are also more likely to express positive opinions about assimilation.
3. American Muslims are loyal to the United States. This is a necessary thing to point out — in, of course, the most McCarthyist language possible — because a large minority of Americans have said that they would support mass detentions of American Muslims in the incidence of a terrorist attack, and a majority support FBI wiretapping of mosques, among other unsavory, Peter King-reminiscent actions that make The Siege feel more like a serious commentary on the current state of affairs than the stuff of, “I’ll watch it because there’s nothing else interesting on Netflix” TV viewing.