Our VoiceCulture

Rep. Joe Walsh continues to fan the flames of Islamophobia—and it’s accomplishing his goals


Domenic Powell • Aug 14, 2012

While Rep. Joe Walsh may claim that Muslims are trying to kill Americans “every week,” the news has been headed in the opposite direction. Not far from where Walsh made his roughly once-a-week terror threat prognosis, pellet shots were fired at a mosque in Morton Grove, outside of Chicago a few days later. If pellet shot doesn’t seem serious enough for you, a Joplin, Missouri mosque was burned to the ground a few days before. This was the second time the mosque had been set ablaze, following a previous arson attempt last month. Last week, pig parts were thrown onto the proposed site of an Islamic center in San Bernadino County, California. Going back two days further, four teenagers in Hayward, CA threw fruit at a mosque there.

If you prefer legislation to arson and perpetual unprovoked harassment, suit-and-tie Islamophobia is also on the rise. Walsh is joined by Michele Bachmann in promoting anti-Muslim policy—even the steady and rarely expressive Wolf Blitzer repudiated Bachmann’s “McCarthy-like” allegations against Huma Abedin, a long-time aide to Hillary Clinton.  Anti-Sharia Law bills are popping up around the country—and getting signed into law. Brigitte Gabriel, head of ACT! For America and an ideological influence on Utoya shooter Anders Breivik, is promoting the Thin Blue Line project, ostensibly training local law enforcement to deal with the threat of radical Islam. If the past two weeks count for anything, it’s to say that the more pressing threat to the American people might be radical Islamophobia, not “radical Islam.”

While the shooting at the Sikh gurudwara in Milwaukee, Wisconsin has temporarily re-sharpened the public’s senses toward prejudice against immigrants from South Asia and the Middle East, very little is being done to counteract the bigotry. In an attempt to be helpful (?), Chicago’s RedEye put together a useless and offensive “turban primer,” leading to a fantastic rebuke from the Angry Asian Man blog. While the antics of hotheads like Walsh and Bachmann might make Islamophobia seem comical or fringe, it bears repeating that they are playing to a prejudice taking root in communities across the country.

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