We're now more than three years into Barack Obama's tenure as an openly Christian president, and the "Msulim" rumors won't go away. People questioning Obama's faith have been a constant source of liberal aggravation throughout the past few years, and with the 2012 election only months away, mudslinging from conservatives accusing Obama of being a secret Muslim is becoming even more prevalent. There's just one problem: Muslims have a lot more reason to fear other Americans than Americans have to fear Muslims.
In a Monday appearance on MSNBC program Andrea Mitchell Reports, Rick Santorum spokeswoman Alice Stewart chastised Obama's "radical Islamic policies." Stewart would later say that she "misspoke," but her fearmongering statement had already been set loose onto the public. One day later, Franklin Graham, son of televangelist Billy, would go on MSNBC's Morning Joe to theorize that Obama may not be a Christian. "All I know is that under Obama, President Obama, the Muslims of the world, he seems to be more concerned about them than the Christians that are being murdered," Graham said.
Obama himself has said time and again that he's a Christian, doing everything from celebrating Christian holidays to publicly attending a Christian church. But the rumors are as persistent as they are grounded in fantasy. Worse still is that if Stewart and Graham are to be believed, American Muslims are waging a major aggression against American Christians, while in fact, quite the opposite is true.
Though it went criminally underreported at the time, in November the FBI released some terrifying statistics about anti-Muslim hate crimes in America. The bureau found that in 2010, a year when Islam bashing reached a fever pitch thanks to things like the "Ground Zero mosque," hate crimes against Muslims showed a dramatic spike, up 50 percent from the year before. What's more, of the hate crimes dealing with religion, more than 13 percent were anti-Muslim. And though Graham et al. seem to think differently, less than 2 percent of hate crimes were anti-Christian.
Besides the fact that Muslims are not attacking Christians in America, worries about a macro-level Muslim takeover are ridiculous too. Just as Obama has no plans to initiate a Muslim dictatorship in the Oval Office, there is no real threat of Sharia law subsuming America's foundation. Amy Sullivan at the Huffington Post did a good job of explaining Sharia hysteria:
[P]oliticians who cry "Sharia!" are engaging in one of the oldest and least-proud political traditions—xenophobic demagoguery. One of the easiest ways to spot its use is when politicians carelessly throw around a word simply because it scares some voters. Take Gerald Allen, the Alabama state senator who was moved by the danger posed by Sharia to sponsor a bill banning it—but who, when asked for a definition, could not say what Sharia was. "I don't have my file in front of me," he told reporters. "I wish I could answer you better."
When Roosevelt said we have nothing to fear but fear itself, this is the America he was talking about: A nation so consumed by irrational hatred and fear that it has allowed itself to become an unwelcoming place for people who worship differently from the majority. In reality, Obama isn't a Muslim, and America is not at risk of falling under Muslim control. The people who should be scared, on the other hand, are American Muslims, who are forced to suffer the effects of so much absurd hatred day after day.