Posted by Brad @ 4:13 pm on August 10th 2012

The Most Socially Acceptable Bigotry in America

It’s not against gays. It’s not against blacks. It’s not against Christians.

I can promise you that if black churches were getting burned down in the South, or Catholic churches on the Eastern Seaboard, or evangelical protestant ones in the Pacific Northwest, this would be a summer-long story, and the basis of an ongoing conversation at all levels of America.

To pick one example out of a hat, we have had a massive national outcry and conversation, with support, consciousness-raising, sympathy, and pushback from all corners, from Lady Gaga to random YouTubers to mainstream politicians – when gay teenagers were being bullied. Entirely appropriate.

As to this group, it registers, sure. But just. Meanwhile, a few years ago we had an open conversation as to whether the government should or should not be able to bar this religious minority from BUILDING these things in certain areas – with many people at least softly leaning in the direction of “should bar”, making the argument that the practice of this particular religion was offensive in and of itself that may justify (strong position) government intervention or (weak position) “voluntarily” relegating themselves to certain areas so as to not rile people up. Last year we had a conversation about whether private food companies ought to be boycotted for making products friendly to this religion’s dietary restrictions – with the implication being that catering to such a market proved a company was either consciously subversive (strong position) or not sufficiently pro-American. And this year, we’re having a conversation about whether they should be allowed to serve in government without a heightened level of scrutiny, and whether police have the right to surveil them, writ large, just because – essentially arguing, in what is effectively mainstream position, that their being this specific minority is, in and of itself, cause for reasonable suspicion.


  1. On days like today, I wind up reading a lot of political blogs. And on days like that, I usually run through our links on the right, and always have a whiplash moment when I check in on Glenn Greenwald, and realize how shallow and vapid 99% of the political commentary i read is.

    Greenwald checks in on the Joplin mosque, and specifically the under-the-radar campaign to raise money for its rebuilding.

    While it’s almost certainly going to put me on some crazy-ass surveillance list for the rest of my goddamn life (if the Cordoba House didn’t already), I’m kicking in $25 and you should too.

    I’d like to live in a country where the Republican VP could do this for them:

    Comment by Brad — 8/11/2012 @ 6:01 pm

  2. You’re wrong. Though there are a lot of crazies out that have it out for Muslims, actual instances of bigotry against them aren’t particularly condoned. While yeah, there are some despicable examples like this, I wouldn’t actually say that Islamophobia is socially acceptable bigotry in America. Even if it is more pervasive than other forms, egregious forms of it are pretty widely denounced.

    Consider this handy dandy little list of potential sources of socially acceptable bigotry in 2012 America:
    Disabled People

    Here’s the test: take the list above and pick a group that works in the following sentence:

    Our organization (Boy Scouts for instance) will bar members who are XXXXXXX from participating.

    Which choice doesn’t get an uproar from society? No Homosexuals? Uproar, if a bit muted.
    No Muslims? *Uproar*
    No Mexicans? *Riots*
    No Blacks? *Riots*
    No Canadians? *Celebratory Riots*
    No Atheists? *Crickets*

    Of all of the groups above, bigotry against atheists them is probably the most pervasive and still widely acceptable in 2012. Bigotry is indeed a problem with many of the groups listed above, but widespread acceptance of any of them is hard to argue. Atheists are an exception.

    That being said, I would agree that Islamophobia is probably a pretty strong runner up. Unfortunately bigotry against them is real in modern America. I wouldn’t say that there is widespread acceptance of that bigotry, however.

    Comment by Cameron — 8/12/2012 @ 1:25 am

  3. I think there is a difference in kind between what you’re talking about what I would define as bigotry. Athiests aren’t likely to be accosted on the street, their meeting places aren’t targeted for arson or vandalism, they aren’t subject to a host of extra-legal surveillance or a parallel system of civil liberties, etc. etc. etc.

    Athiesm is UNPOPULAR, but by and large ATHIESTS aren’t. I get actually fairly annoyed at people drawing this particular parallel. Hell, libertarianism is unpopular too – there is a good 85% of the country that view it as on par with a mental disorder – but I would certainly not consider that the same thing as anti-libertarian bigotry. It kind of smacks, to me, of white middle class privilege to even throw that out there as existing in the same ballpark. Try being a practicing muslim in Missouri and you tell me that’s the same thing as your experience as an athiest.

    Comment by Brad — 8/12/2012 @ 3:35 pm

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