The to see. In the Vietnam War this was

The
politicization of hatred and discrimination of Muslim Americans has facilitated
religious violence and increased the visibility of racism against minority
ethnic groups. Muslim Americans are uniquely subjected to religious violence
due to popular rhetoric that makes this discrimination on the base of religion increasingly
acceptable. Of course, it is true that Islamophobia was not created in 2001,
rather the first use of the word was first published in 1997 (Sheridan 2006), but
It is important to acknowledge that fallout from events such as 9-11 and the
War On Terror has caused the public perception of the Muslim community to
change in a way that unfairly generalizes and blames all forms of Islamic
practice as fundamentally rooted in Jihadist terrorism and violence. This religious
discrimination, as well as the associated racism and violence, occurs in the
United States and many other western countries in a way that is deeply damaging
to Muslims. This paper will examine some possible contributing factors of modern
day islamophobia that have allowed religiously based discrimination to flourish
as well as the personal and psychological effects of violence and
discrimination on the Individuals who experience life within the context of Islamophobia.
From a viewpoint based in Bernard Lonergan’s theories of alienation and
authenticity we will also examine the questions of how religious discrimination
against Muslims has become structuralized and perpetuated in the United States
in media and politics. Additionally, how does this analysis of Islamophobic
violence effect Muslims in their day to day lives?

Media,
Politics and Discrimination

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In some respects,
the War on Terror shared characteristics with the Vietnam War of the 60’s and
70’s. During the Vietnam War film and photography were for the first time
available to reporters traveling with American troops, documenting the terrors of
war for the world to see. In the Vietnam War this was problematic and
contributed to disapproval by the American population of the conflict. The
major change from Vietnam and even the Gulf war of the early 1990’s was the
widespread availability and development of the internet. For the first-time in a
modern American conflict terror groups like al-Qaeda could speak to the
American people directly through television sets and computer screens as well
as claim responsibility for events of terrorism almost immediately. Everyone
can recall the images of Osama Bin Laden that circulated following the events
on that fateful morning of September 11, 2001. This made the connection between
the Muslim head coverings such as the turban to the enemy overseas easy to
make. To make things worse, soldiers in combat were subject to new forms of
weaponry namely improvised explosive devices or I.E.D.’s for short. These
devices were popular among extremist militant groups and are a cross between a
bomb and a mine some veterans lucky enough to return home alive usually did so
with major burns, scarring and in many cases missing limbs making combat
injuries more visible. These visuals were so available to Americans that in
combination with political rhetoric and media coverage that they could have
easily set the stage for Islamophobia to escalate to a crisis level in the U.S.
This is not to say that discrimination was in any way “caused” by media
coverage or the image that the war burned into people’s minds. Rather, it could
have laid the groundwork required to contribute to the way that anti-Muslimism
rhetoric was accepted by the American people more recently. It is important
here to note also that although Anti-Muslim sentiments are not universally American
or perpetuated through discrimination and violence exclusively by Americans I will
speak of this issue as a fundamentally American issue. By approaching this
issue from the point of view of the United States alone it may be easier to
isolate possible causes of religious discrimination and violence and the effects
on Muslims through politics and media coverage.

It is hardly
surprising that incidences of Muslim hate crimes and discrimination rose
sharply following the events of September 11, 2001. The unfolding of events
that day and the years following of American military involvement in Iraq and
Afghanistan contributed to the formation of a certain expectation of the
stereotypical Muslim in the United States. It is evident that events of
terrorism have formed an image of Islam that has allowed for certain political
figures to attack religious minority groups, especially Muslims. In this sense,
the imposed “travel ban” by the Trump administration has not only singled out
Muslims by targeting predominantly Muslim majority countries, but also made
violence and discrimination on the base of race and religious affiliation
increasingly acceptable. The politicization of this issue is especially
problematic in the United States due to the nature of American identity
politics. American identity politics have moral implications as well as a
certain evangelical project especially as far as the Republican Party is
concerned. The affiliation of political parties in the United States with
evangelical agendas complicate the problem of islamophobia in a way that
clearly defines an acceptance of one god, our god and dismisses “other” forms
of religious practice. In this day and age the agenda of right wing
conservative politicians have become the issue of Muslim Americans as they have
been signaled out and targeted directly. This convenient political agenda has contributed
to the formation of an accepted ideology of “othering” that encourages
violence, discrimination and hatred against minority religious groups. The
strong prevalence of identity politics in the United States also means that
individuals are more likely to support groups rather than ideas. This makes the
United States exceptionally susceptible to the formation of radical ideologies
due to the tribalism of political polarization.

Religious
Discrimination and Day to Day Life

                  The
world that we live in today requires that we acknowledge the threat of
terrorism by groups such as ISIS, but these effects are felt disproportionately
by practicing Muslims who value peace and acceptance. Studies on religious
violence and discrimination among Muslims in non-Muslim majority countries show
a steep increase in incidences of discrimination following September 11, 2001.
One such study on Islamophobia compared self-reported incidences of
discrimination before and after September 11th, 2001, in the United
Kingdom. The results showed a significant increase in both overt and indirect experiences
of discrimination. Additionally, data from a general health questionnaire also administered
during the study showed that 35.6% of participants showed evidence of metal health
problems with “significant associations between problem indicative scores and
reports of experiencing a specific abusive incident of September 11th
related abuse” (Sheridan 2006). Despite a relatively small sample size this
study suggests that the effects of September 11th reached far beyond
the borders of the United States and real people were feeling the effects on
their day to day lives. A similar study in the United States confirmed that the
same result was indeed discovered following 9/11 (Kaplan 2006).

                  It
is obvious then, that discrimination and violence does have effects on the day
to day lives of Muslims. Another study examined paranoia and anxiety in Muslim
American populations as effects of discrimination based solely on issues
accompanying religious affiliation. “Findings suggest that a statistically
significant relationship was found between perceived religious discrimination
and subclinical paranoia” (Rippy and Newman, 2007). The results of this study therefore
suggest that perceived discrimination that Muslim Americans experience is
related to increased suspicion, vigilance and that perhaps differences within
the Muslim community itself affect the perception of discrimination. Other
studies exposed a similar narrative of discrimination and issues of identity
for Muslims living in America and other western countries. Sirin and Fine
(2007) examined the navigation of identity in Muslim youth who, after the
terrorist attacks found themselves in a precarious conflict between their American
selves and their own religious selves. Feelings of insecurity, unease and negotiating
conflict in their daily lives, Muslim youth in the United States were forced to
change the way that they lived their lives post 9/11.

                  The
lived experiences of discrimination have affected the ways that Muslim Americans
develop in the context of society, American culture and in terms of religion. The
many challenges of growing up Muslim in the United States especially the lack
of support for the Muslim community have caused the alienation of Muslims to continue
to be alienated on many levels. This can be problematic as any individual or
group regardless of religious affiliation may be more inclined to violence and
negative behaviors especially when they are allowed by social conditions to
create conflict based relationships to their own nationality. Americanism
itself seems to have recently made a conscious effort through political action
to exclude Muslims from broader society creating barriers between religious acceptance
and state membership.

Implications
of American islamophobia

For Bernard Lonergan
the connection between visuals of some Muslim groups as enemies of the state in
addition to political rhetoric and impact of American politics on the threat on
terrorism in a way that clearly designates the Muslim as “other” could be seen
as further steps of the formation of an ideology that would serve as a
justification for alienation (Arcamone 2015). Steps to formalize and permeate
this alienation are evident through the proposed Trump “Travel Ban”. Once legal
measures based in alienation and the supporting ideology are in place in key
institutions it becomes solidified. In this context, the understanding of the
link between alienation and ideology allows us to see the ways that Islamophobia
can be understood within the framework of theoretical analysis. As the ideology
of Islamophobia and religious based discrimination grows it can be seen that the
everyday lives of Muslims as well as other religious minorities caught in the
crossfire such as Sikhs live the effects of the discrimination. For Lonergan
alienation leads to inattentiveness, irrational, irresponsible and downright
un-informed decision making. This alienation once percolated through major institutions
begin to inform decisions on humanitarian issues, as well as political and
economic decisions (Arcamone 2015). The ideology that encompasses Islamophobia is
itself a justification of ignorance to reason. By stripping Muslim Americans of
their religious pride and self-worth and making religious practice an issue of
conflict. This is a result of the view that terrorism is a fundamentally
racialized problem. For Lonergan court resistance of the travel ban that was
able to stall and alter the scope of the ban to fight against it’s
unconstitutional nature is a sign that resistance is not futile. In fact,
combatting the spread of an ideology that justifies discrimination on the base
of race or religion is a sign of hope.

In conclusion
Islamophobia in the United States in particular is a problem that is highly damaging
to individuals. This occurs through evidence of psychological damage as well as
issues related to identity formation. It is also evident that media portrayals
and politicization of issues associated with terrorism and the broader Muslim
community in general could have contributed to the formation of an ideology
that accepts and encourages discrimination on the basis of religion alone.
Through Lonergan it is easy to see that the development of anti-Muslimism
sentiments could be the beginning of a very damaging reaction. Issues of
religious discrimination could easily make certain groups who reside within the
borders of the United States feel unsafe in their own country.