Saturday, January 29, 2011


Why is anti-Muslim fervor so much more pervasive today than it was on, say, September 12, 2001?
On 9/12/2001, the schemata/stereotypes had not yet been developed. It was all still raw and open. I remember being struck that in "man on the street" interviews (on the news), there were people saying that they hoped that this would not lead to retaliation and war - that there had been enough death (e.g. I remember seeing NY City firefighters saying this, and others as well). But people build narratives - simplifying schematas (including e.g. Muslim="bad", Muslim="terrorist", etc.) - to make sense of things - and the schematas we build can often lead us further from truth (and further from being present). Hatred, self-righteous anger, and a desire for retaliation are often one step removed from the event - from the sadness and openness of a loss. And people want to maintain the illusion that life is entirely controllable. That perfect control and safety can be achieved. And Bush/Cheney were happy to add to this, beating the drums of war (long-term neocon dreams regarding the Middle East, political utility of a "war on terrorism", etc.). Even though Bush was officially condemning anti-Muslim prejudice per se, the actions and forces set in motion by the administration inevitably stoked the flames further. Societal development and consolidation of narratives/prejudices (e.g. anti-Muslim fervor) takes time though (e.g. the more times you hear something, the more likely you are to believe it, etc.). On top of this, more recently, certain conservative groups have found essentially direct appeal to anti-Muslim sentiments politically useful (e.g. the whole NY City Muslim center "controversy").
I agree with the foregoing post. And it must be said that any number of opportunistic parties like Pam Geller at Atlas Shrugged have been raising money and fears using scare tactics.

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