Surveys Show Many Americans Prejudiced Against Muslims

Americans like to think of their nation as a bastion of liberty and equality, and while America's political principles have certainly been based upon such ideas the truth is that Americans themselves have often been willing to abandon those ideals. Today, for example, many Americans are inclined to deny equality and liberty to the Muslims neighbors simply because they are Muslims.
Editor & Publisher reports on a recent survey which reveals the extent to which Americans are prejudiced against Muslims and would endorse official discrimination against Muslims:
Almost four in ten, 39%, advocate that Muslims here should carry special I.D. That same number admit that they do hold some “prejudice” against Muslims. Forty-four percent say their religious views are too “extreme.”

In addition, 34% believe that Muslims in America support al-Qaeda while just 49% believe that American Muslims are loyal to the United States. Almost a quarter don’t want Muslims as neighbors, but people who actually know Muslims are less likely to hold any of these prejudices. So, when a person actually knows Muslims, they are less likely to be prejudiced against Muslims — this isn’t surprising because prejudice is often the product of ignorance and fear.
At the same time, this indicates that all those who are so willing to see Muslims discriminated against probably don’t know any Muslims themselves. It’s easy to endorse discrimination when you don’t have to personally witness the harm it causes or when you don’t have toe feel empathy for those who must suffer because of it. Think about it: coming up on half of all Americans think that the religious views of American Muslims are too “extreme,” but most of these people probably don’t know any Muslims personally and so can’t claim to know what Muslims really do believe.
Where did they get their information if they don’t know any Muslims themselves? I think we can easily come up with examples of heavily biased “news” sources, both traditional media and web sites, which encourage people to developed biased perceptions of Muslims — and other minorities, too. Does anyone want to take a bet on how many in that 44% are regular readers of Ann Coulter and regular listeners of Bill O’Reilly?

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