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The Myth of the Anti-Muslim Backlash

Hysteria hasn't swept the country since the Ft. Hood terrorist attack.

11:00 PM, Dec 21, 2009 • By GARY BAUER
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Backlash: a strong or violent reaction, as to some social or political change.

It has been more than a month since U.S. Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan allegedly murdered 14 people and wounded 30 others at Fort Hood military base in Texas. And while we were led to believe that the rampage by Hasan, who is Muslim, would provoke a strong and violent reaction against Arab and Muslim Americans, a backlash has been conspicuous only by its absence.

In fact, in the immediate aftermath of each of the dozen attacks by Muslim Americans since 9-11, the conversation has been dominated by predictions of inevitable violence toward Muslims by bigoted Americans unable to control their rage. And each time a backlash has been virtually nonexistent. Our journalistic and political elites have become terrorism's unwitting domestic enablers, perceiving religion-based violence where there is none, while ignoring it where it is widespread and intensifying.

After Hasan's terrorist attack, an Associated Press headline read, "Another attack leaves U.S. Muslims fearing backlash." A Christian Science Monitor story was titled, "Fort Hood Shootings: US Muslims feel new heat."

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano declared: "We object to, and do not believe, that anti-Muslim sentiment should emanate from this." And U.S. Army Chief of Staff George Casey said, "I'm concerned that this increased speculation [about Hasan's motives] could cause a backlash against some of our Muslim soldiers. And I've asked our Army leaders to be on the lookout for that. ... as horrific as this tragedy was, if our diversity becomes a casualty, I think that's worse."

But the data show that America's more than two million Muslims have little to fear from their fellow citizens. According to crime statistics compiled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the number of hate crimes against Muslim Americans increased in the immediate aftermath of 9-11. But it declined precipitously after that, and has remained low ever since.

Of 6,832 religion-based hate crimes reported between 2002 and 2006, 4,627, or 68 percent, were committed not against Muslims but against Jews, while 744, or 11 percent, were committed against Muslims. In 2007 there were 1,477 reported offenses motivated by religious bias. Again, 68 percent were committed against Jews, and only 9 percent against Muslims. Reported hate crimes against Catholics and Protestants accounted for 8.4 percent.

And recently-released FBI statistics for 2008 show that 65.7 percent of religion-motivated hate crimes were anti-Jewish, 8.4 percent anti-Christian and 7.7 percent anti-Islamic. That means there were 1,013 cases of hate crimes motivated by anti-Semitism in 2008, the highest number of hate crimes against Jews reported since 2001. There were just 105 reported cases of anti-Islamic hate crimes.

Don't believe the FBI's statistics? Data compiled by Muslim lobby groups paint a similar picture. The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee Research Institute's 2003-2007 Report on Hate Crimes and Discrimination Against Arab Americans found "The rate of violent hate crimes against Arab Americans continued to decline from the immediate post 9-11 surge, to a level somewhat but not dramatically increased over that seen in the five years leading up to the 2001 attacks."
A 2008 survey by Human Rights First called Violence Against Muslims found only two assaults based on anti-Muslim sentiment in 2007 and 2008, no incidents under "violent backlash to terrorist and other attacks" and just one incident under "attacks on places of worship and cemeteries."

Almost all of the "backlash" against Muslims following acts of Islamic domestic terrorism has consisted of acerbic blog posts, tightened restrictions at mosques and enhanced airport security.

In the more than a month since the Fort Hood massacre, the only religion-based crime I could find was committed by a young Muslim in California at a mall kiosk. He tore a crucifix from shopper's neck and shouted anti-Christian slurs and "Allah is power."

While reports of attacks against Muslim Americans remain low, it is worrisome that attacks by homegrown Jihadists have increased. Since 9-11, at least 60 Muslim Americans linked to jihadist groups have been convicted of terrorism and national security charges against American residents. As Sec. Napolitano said in a recent speech: