Jeff Jacoby

"Is America Islamophobic?"

When that provocative question appeared on the cover of Time in August, the accompanying story strained to suggest, on the basis of some anecdotal evidence, that the answer might be yes. The FBI's latest compendium of US hate-crimes data suggests far more plausibly that the answer is no.

"Where ordinary Americans meet Islam, there is evidence that suspicion and hostility are growing," Time told its readers last summer. "To be a Muslim in America now is to endure slings and arrows against your faith -- not just in the schoolyard and the office but also outside your place of worship and in the public square, where some of the country's most powerful mainstream religious and political leaders unthinkingly (or worse, deliberately) conflate Islam with terrorism and savagery."

Time published that article amid the tumult over plans to build a Muslim mosque and cultural center near Ground Zero in New York, and not long after a fringe pastor in Gainesville had announced that he intended to burn copies of the Koran on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. The piece noted that a handful of other mosque projects nationwide have run into "bitter opposition," and it cited a Duke University professor's claim that such resistance is "part of a pattern of intolerance" against American Muslims. Yet the story conceded frankly that "there's no sign that violence against Muslims is on the rise" and that "Islamophobia in the US doesn't approach levels seen in other countries."

In fact, as Time pointed out, while there may be the occasional confrontation over a Muslim construction project, "there are now 1,900 mosques in the US, up from about 1,200 in 2001." Even after 9/11, in other words, and even as radical Islamists have continued to target Americans, places of worship for Muslims in the United States have proliferated. And whenever naked anti-Islamic bigotry has appeared, "it has been denounced by many Christian, Jewish, and secular groups." (Case in point: the wall-to-wall repudiation of the Gainesville pastor.)

America is many things, but "Islamophobic" plainly isn't one of them. As Time itself acknowledged: "Polls have shown that most Muslims feel safer and freer in the US than anywhere else in the Western world."


Jeff Jacoby

Jeff Jacoby is an Op-Ed writer for the Boston Globe, a radio political commentator, and a contributing columnist for Townhall.com.