Saturday, December 18, 2004

The American Muslims have stripes

Yeah I’ve seen the Cornell study (pdf file) about attitudes to Muslims, and I’d be a lot more worried if I trusted the methodology more. But I don’t, so I’d advise the leftyblogosphere (I just made that up) to chill.

That said, I’d like to point to the part where 27% think that Muslim-Americans should be required to register and ask, what do those people think Muslims are? If this were a legal requirement, it would presumably be enforced by a punishment, so you’d have to prove that a non-registrant believed that there was no god but Allah and that Mohammed was his prophet etc etc etc. What’s worrying is that the 27% evidently do not think of Islam as a religion, a system of beliefs, but rather believe that there is something intrinsic and immutable about a person being “Muslim,” something which is visible, detectable by the authorities, like the sketches of Jews the priest shows the boyhood version of Woody Allen’s character in “Love and Death”: “Do they all have horns?” “No, those are Russian Jews; the German Jews have stripes.” Imagine the debates we could have if we passed the Compulsory Registration of Muslims Act of 2005: do we use the Nazi standards to determine who is a Muslim or the Old South’s “one drop” rule, do we subject people we suspect are “passing” to a test involving the consumption of pork products?

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