McGowan: Muslims and 9-11

September 16, 2021

No, Muslims Aren’t Most Maligned

by Richard McGowan, Ph.D.

Our country recently marked the 20th years since the terrifying events of Sept. 11, 2001. Newspapers printed articles both inspirational and tragic regarding the events of that day. Most newspapers also included articles on the bias faced by Muslims. For example, the Wall Street Journal had an article on Sept. 13 entitled, “Growing Muslim Population Sees Fear, Acceptance.”

Closer to home, the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette printed an article on Sept. 7 entitled, “Two decades after 9/11, Muslim Americans still fighting bias.” The article stated, “A poll by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research conducted ahead of the 9/11 anniversary found that 53 percent of Americans have an unfavorable view toward Islam, compared with 42 percent who have favorable ones. This stands in contrast to Americans’ opinion about Christianity and Judaism . . . ”

The Indianapolis Star had a Sept. 7 article entitled, “Muslim Americans organize to fight bias after 9/11.” Not to be outdone, USA Today printed a Sept. 9 article, “’Breaking Stereotypes’: How 9/11 shaped a generation of Muslim Americans,” that stated “Anti-Muslim bias continues today.” In fact, each year around Sept.11, newspapers have had articles remarking that anti-Muslim bias is problematic. For the record, I agree — any sort of anti-religion bias is deplorable and should not exist.

What is even worse than having a bias, though, is acting criminally motivated by the bias.

While newspapers routinely make an annual condemnation of the anti-Muslim bias that exists in America (and other parts of the world), Muslims and Muslim institutions are not the leading target by way of religion bias. The FBI Hate Crime Statistics show that in 2019, of the 1,715 victims of hate crimes, 60.2 percent or 1,032, of the victims were Jewish institutions or people. That compares with 13.2 percent, or 227, of victims that were Muslim, 3.8 percent, or 66, of victims that were Catholic, and 1.4 percent, or 24, of victims that were Protestant. The Jewish population suffered the most hate crimes in 2019 — and it has ever been thus.

In 2002, the year after the cataclysmic horror of 9/11, hate crimes against Jewish institutions and people numbered 1,084 incidents, Muslim institutions and people suffered 170 incidents, Catholics suffered 71 incidents, and Protestants suffered 58 incidents of hate crimes.

The American population is about 2 percent Jewish and about 1 percent Muslim, so if both religions were targeted proportionately, Jewish victims would be double the Muslim victims. Instead, Muslim victimization is about 22 percent, not 50 percent, of Jewish victimizations. Jewish victims are targeted more than twice as much as Muslim victims. 

Americans may say they have unfavorable opinions about Muslims, as compared to Christianity and Judaism, but when it comes to acting on unfavorable opinions, Jewish entities are the most afflicted.

I suppose headlines, such as “Two decades after 9/11, Jewish Americans still lead victimization data” or “Jewish Americans organize to fight bias after 1776,” won’t fit the current narrative as the articles above do. However, it appears as though the editors at newspapers think misdirection is okay if it sells newspapers.

Richard McGowan, Ph.D., an adjunct scholar of the Indiana Policy Review Foundation, has taught philosophy and ethics cores for more than 40 years, most recently at Butler University. 

2002 Hate Crime Data: 
2019 Hate Crime Data: 


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