"Racialization" of Muslims in a Post-9/11 America

September 3, 2006

Source: San Francisco Chronicle


On September 3, 2006 the San Francisco Chronicle reported, "As the war on terror heads into its sixth year, a new racial stereotype is emerging in America. Brown-skinned men with beards and women with head scarves are seen as 'Muslims' -- regardless of their actual faith or nationality. Law enforcement measures, politicians, religious leaders and the media have contributed to stereotyping Muslims as a race -- echoing the painful history of another faith. 'Muslims are the new Jews,' said Paul Silverstein, an anthropology professor at Reed College in Oregon who studies the intersection of race, immigration and Islam. 'They're the object of a series of stereotypes, caricatures and fears which are not based in a reality and are independent of a person's experience with Muslims.' The Muslim caricature has ensnared Hindus, Mexicans and others across the country with violence, suspicion and slurs. And it has given new form to this country's age-old dance around racial identity. With fair skin, green eyes and brown hair, Dailyah Patt is white. But when she puts on a head scarf, Patt has discovered, people see her as something altogether different... News and entertainment media also play a role in cultivating this new racial image, consciously or not. The image of Muslims is closely associated with conflict -- the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Israel, or the Emmy Award-winning Fox show '24,' which has dramatized terrorism."