If you think the Islamophobia that Chris Gehrz lamented yesterday at The Pietist Schoolman is a new phenomenon in American history, think again. Gehrz mentioned Thomas Kidd’s excellent American Christians and Islam: Evangelical Culture and Muslims from the Colonial Period to the Age of Terrorism to show that the fear of Muslims has a long history in America.
Over at the History News Network, a site that has been offering some very good history-related coverage on this topic, Karine Walther, a history professor at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Qatar, reminds us that Islamophobia played a major role in U.S. foreign relations in the 19th century. Walther is the author of Sacred Interests: The United States and the Islamic World, 1821-1921.
Here is a taste of her piece:
When Republic presidential candidate Ben Carson made news recently by questioning whether a Muslim American could (or should) ever become president of the United States, his assertions recalled similar concerns raised by a political supporter of John McCain’s presidency at a rally seven years earlier. “I can’t trust Obama,” Gayle Quinnell told McCain, “I’ve read about him…and he’s an Arab.” Whether she meant Arab or Muslim, two identities often conflated in American understandings of Muslims, her fears revealed deeper concerns by some segments of the American public about the loyalty of Muslim Americans to the United States. McCain’s response was equally revealing. He did not challenge the idea that Arab Americans or Muslim Americans could and should be trusted to occupy the highest office of the land, but instead, he defended Obama against the “accusation” of being Arab. Obama was not an Arab, he responded, “he’s a decent family man, citizen” as if being an Arab or Muslim American prohibited decency or ties to family – or even American citizenship.
, an imperial, political and moral anomaly. Such beliefs also pushed American to actively support the extension of European empire to lands ruled by Muslims, including the Ottoman Empire and Morocco.
Read the entire piece here.