A Simple Question in re: Islam and US Politics

A major part of the problem with the seeming growing wave of anti-Muslim sentiment in some quarters of US politics is that it seems to equate Islam as "the enemy." If that's the case, then US foreign policy has some 'splainin' to do.

If Islam is to be considered the enemy,* then why is the United States expending blood and treasure to prop up governments in majority Muslim countries (those would be Afghanistan and Iraq)?  Why did we commit troops to protect Kuwait?  Why are we friendly with Pakistan and Saudi Arabia?

If mosques in the United States are such a dire threat, then how can we be doing such crazy things are providing massive amounts of foreign aid to places like Egypt?  How can we have diplomatic relations with Indonesia?   How can we allow Turkey to join the EU?  Why did we use military force to aid the Kosovars?

Have we lost our minds?**

And look (and with all sarcasm aside), I understand the notion that we should be vigilant about radicalism within domestic (and international, for that matter) Islam.  However, we seem to be moving into a period of unnecessary anti-Islamism in our politics at the moment (see the Politico: GOP takes harsher stance toward Islam).

It also strikes me that increased levels of anti-Islamic sentiment on the shores of the US will only fuel the fire of the jihadists, not quell them.

Beyond that, let’s again consider the widespread existence of Islam as a world religion.  Check out this map (source):


Do we really think that all of those places are filled with the enemy?   And if they are not, why would mosques in the United States be?

*And some are certainly talking like Islam itself is the enemy.  See, for example:

**And clearly yes, some of us have…

FILED UNDER: Religion, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. Tim says:

    One more freaking strawman. It is not mosques in general it is a mosque at the site of 9-11 that is at issue. I’m not saying they don’t have a right to do it. I’m not saying that there should never be another mosque built in the U.S. none of those strawmen will stand. I think Americans have a right to a secular sanctification of Ground Zero, that’s all and if the Ismalists weren’t trying to agitate non-muslim Americans, they wouldn’t be trying to build the mosque there.

    Would you also support the building of a church on the Temple Mount?

  2. Dave Schuler says:

    I think that there’s an appreciable segment of the American people who do think that Islam per se is the enemy and that, yes, we’ve lost our minds because we don’t realize that.

    Personally, I don’t think that Islam is the enemy. But, more importantly, even if it were I think it would be a strategic error to act as though it were because of the map you’re displaying above.

  3. @Tim: this post is not about the Cordoba House proposal, per se, although the reaction to it is part of the inspiration. The point is, and if you look at some of the links provided, that there is a whole lot more going on than just the Cordoba House thing.

  4. PS–at a minimum, I would highly recommend the John Stewart link.

  5. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    You quote Politico. Name the source. It is Ben Smith. One of the Journolistas. The lie here is the GOP opposes Islam. Facts not in evidence. Just by making the slight adjustment to saying that when GOP members have stated clearly they do not think it is wise to put a mosque so close to the site of the attack on 9/11. What is difficult to grasp is the cavalier attitude concerning those whos opinion is this is not the place to build a monument to Islam. Many on the left say the GOP is trying to end first amendment rights. Once again the tactics of scoundrels and liars. No one in the GOP, of any promenence, has stated they did not think muslims did not have the right to build an Islamic center. Location, location, location. I just wonder why that is so hard to grasp. We do not own Islam a damn thing. There contribution to this nation was in the form of Jefferson getting the backbone to make the Tripoli Pirates an offer they could not refuse.

    Please, you link to John Stewart. Why not to Kat Williams? Where is the information about Germany closing a Mosque? Seems they were using it to recruit terrorist. Wouldn’t that new building be a dandy spot for radical Muslims to detonate a nuclear devise?

    Are you an American Taylor? Your values say no. Wonder how your wife would like living under Sharia law? Why don’t you investigate what that entails and then ask her?

  6. bob says:

    When you start realizing that Islam isa political system maybe you will start understanding opposion to a movement with political domination as aa goal. Bob

  7. steve says:

    “Would you also support the building of a church on the Temple Mount?”

    I wasnt aware you could buy property there. As to the hallowed ground argument, I will quote a far better writer than Krauthammer et al who have been pushing it.

    “But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract.”

    Great speech. Read it sometime and it helps you to remember that our values are important.


  8. ponce says:

    The wingnuts have been hating regular Muslims since 9/11.

    It’s taken the MSM 9 years to figure it out.

  9. Steve Hynd says:

    And thus Zelsdorf Ragshaft III finally conclusively exposes himself as a spoof of a crazy wingnut.

    Many of us have wondered over the years if he was for real or not. But this time his parody went too far.

    Regards, Steve

  10. sam says:

    Douthat summarizes this conflict pretty well, I think:

    “There’s an America where it doesn’t matter what language you speak, what god you worship, or how deep your New World roots run. An America where allegiance to the Constitution trumps ethnic differences, language barriers and religious divides. An America where the newest arrival to our shores is no less American than the ever-so-great granddaughter of the Pilgrims.

    “But there’s another America as well, one that understands itself as a distinctive culture, rather than just a set of political propositions. This America speaks English, not Spanish or Chinese or Arabic. It looks back to a particular religious heritage: Protestantism originally, and then a Judeo-Christian consensus that accommodated Jews and Catholics as well. It draws its social norms from the mores of the Anglo-Saxon diaspora — and it expects new arrivals to assimilate themselves to these norms, and quickly.

    “These two understandings of America, one constitutional and one cultural, have been in tension throughout our history. And they’re in tension again this summer, in the controversy over the Islamic mosque and cultural center scheduled to go up two blocks from ground zero.”

    This second America, the Know-Nothing America, always loses in the end. It doesn’t lose primarily because of the nutzoid xenophobia of its leading lights, though they do make their contributions. No, the second America loses because, and this is something it’ll never get, it wins. It wins because of the tradition-dissolving force of American culture:Your grandparents may speak only Yiddish, Arabic, Spanish — you do not. Your grandparents may take the Torah, the Koran, the New Testament as the final word — you do not. Your grandparents may have one foot in the Old World, one foot in the New. Your feet are planted firmly in the New. The real error of the modern Know-Nothings is their lack of understanding and appreciation of the real American culture and it profoundly assimilationist nature. Basically, they show a lack of faith in this country engendered by ignorance of its history.

  11. An Interested Party says:

    “Basically, they show a lack of faith in this country engendered by ignorance of its history.”

    And these are often the same people who scream the loudest that others don’t love this country enough…a little projection, perhaps…

  12. legion says:

    Tim – lots of issues there. First, the ‘mosque’ is a worship room in an Islamic community center. Yes, there’s a lot of room to argue there. But second, the construction is not ‘on’ ground zero, it is two blocks away from there, amongst a whole lot of other less-tasteful and wholesome businesses, which nobody cares about. Third, if this were a Christian church, or Jewish temple, or any other religious-oriented construction, it would literally never have even been reported at all – you would never have even heard about it. All of these things point towards the conclusion that it _IS_ the fact that Moslems are involved that gets you and a lot of other people’s hackles raised. so either address the real reasons, or stop BS’ing about why you’re upset.

    And finally, speaking of strawmen, I’ve never been to Israel, but I’d be willing to bet there are churches (and temples) within a similar distance of Temple Mount – and it wouldn’t bother me in the slightest.

  13. G.A.Phillips says:

    So that most of you get a glimpse of what the hell your talking about for once……
    Please read>>>>>>>

  14. sam says:

    BTW, GA, Zelsdorf, bob, et al. If, as you seem to believe, Islam and its adherents pose an existential threat to the United States, what should we do about US citizens who are Muslims?
    Should we Manzanar them? Should we strip them of their US citizenship and deport them to their ancestral countries? Should we ankle bracelet all of them, and demand they report weekly to a local FBI office and give a detailed account of their activities? Should we bug all of their telephones? Scrutinize all of mail, electronic and snail?

    What is it exactly that you think we should do to counter this threat?

  15. Herb says:


    The GetReligion (as in the press just doesn’t “get” religion) website is devoting a great deal of effort to critiquing the (in)accuracy with which the press covers this controversy. You might want to check their most recent post on the mosque. http://www.getreligion.org/?p=41016

  16. G.A.Phillips says:

    ***BTW, GA, Zelsdorf, bob, et al. If, as you seem to believe, Islam and its adherents pose an existential threat to the United States, what should we do about US citizens who are Muslims?***
    I just want you to understand what your talking about first….

    ***What is it exactly that you think we should do to counter this threat?***

    The truth?

    Change their harts and minds with the truth?

  17. mannning says:

    A first problem is the definition of religion and the acceptablilty of religious beliefs in America.
    Religions in general appear to me to have several parts: spiritual, acceptable imdividual secular behavior, and secular control of society through Islam.

    Most religions find ready acceptability within their spiritual and secular behavioral parts. One can easily name 15 or 20 such acceptable religions now in America that have a significant membership, and many others that have little recognition and few members. We rightfully pride ourselves on acceptance of the existence these religions in our nation, and have codified this into the law of the land. This much is fully agreed by almost all Americans.

    When a religion contains a major emphasis on secular control of society, and has the thrust to force all citizens of that society to adhere to its tenets on pain of death, there arises in most other Americans, immediately upon recognition of this aspect of a religion, a fear, a loathing, and a distrust of such a religion, because it is rejecting fundamental laws of the land– the personal and religious freedom–that are guaranteed by our Constitution.and civil laws.

    When one examines Islam in this light, this religion emphasizes the secular control aspect by Islam, the forced acceptance of its tenets on pain of death, and even the penalty of death for apostates as an integral part of the practice of Islam. We have seen these tenets in operation time and time again in Islamic states, and even in the EU and America. The basic secular tenets of Islam are an anathema to most Americans that have some knowledge of Islam.

    While we accept Islam for its spiritual and individual secular behavioral sides, we Americans are truly horrified at the secular control side of and by Islam, and thus perceive a real dilemma for our nation, both internally and externally. We want to accept the Muslim for his humanity and his religious, spiritual, and secular, moral sides, but we cannot accept his thrust for control of society, such as dhimmitude or death, the role of women in Islamic societies, and numerous other tenets, such as is embedded in Sharia, and its violation of human freedoms that we value so much.

    The dilemma is in what we should do about this form of total religion in America. There seem to be several groups of thought on the subject: 1) Leave them alone; 2) Leave them alone, but punish their violations of our laws; 3) Leave them alone, but prohibit the promotion or practice of their form of secular laws and codes of behavior that are inimmical to our way of life, and punish their transgressions; and 4) Rid the nation of them altogether.

    My own preference is for the third idea, which may amount to simply prohibiting Sharia to be promoted or practiced in the United States instead of or in addition to our own laws.. This would allow Muslims to practice their religion, both spiritually and in most secular behaviors, so long as it doesn’t violate our laws and our freedoms. To do any less is to jeopardize, however untimately, our entire way of life, our Constitution, and our freedoms.

  18. Darryl says:

    Wow, Steven! I wonder what your words would have been in 1940, regarding a map of the Axis influence. Wondering if it were wise to oppose such a large movement? Asking perhaps if it were proper to hold the actions of Nazis, Fascists and Nationalist Japanese against the peace loving people who lived under their control and merely supported their advances financially and morally.

    Would you, knowing what you do now, have supported the building of a massive meeting hall for the German-American Bund in downtown NYC? After all, their platform only called for incorporating those parts of the National Socialist platform which would aid in the country’s rise from the recession. That, and an increase of cultural exchange between the people of Germany and America. What did the trials of the rest of the world have to do with that?

    Chris Muir had a great line in his “Day by Day” strip today.
    “Progressives confuse their own cowardice with conviction, and syntax with sensibility.” Do you think that’s an original with him? I’ll have to ask, I guess.