There’s a non-trivial chance that efforts to stigmatize an anti-Muslim backlash are partly responsible for the fact that there haven’t been more hate crimes in the United States and that the post-9/11 spike has decreased, albeit not back to pre-9/11 levels.
That’s certainly the intention of liberals, as well as many conservatives who followed President Bush’s lead. The chance of success strikes me as a good reason to continue the campaign of stigma, even if the sensibilities of some conservatives are offended, as if suffering is a zero-sum game, or zealously guarding against Islamophobia somehow undermines the fight against terrorism. Insofar as mainstream Muslims are instrumental in informing on radicalized co-religionists who turn to violence, efforts to reach out in support of them are investments in counterterrorism in addition to being consistent with basic justice.
“Islamophobia is a code word for mainstream European elites’ fear of their own populations,” O’Neil writes, “of their native hordes, whom they imagine to be unenlightened, prejudiced, easily led by the tabloid media, and given to outbursts of spite and violence.” As it happens, human beings, in Europe and everywhere else, are often prejudiced, easily led by the media, and given to spite and violence. It is pretty to think that a violent faction on the European right will never again succeed in perpetrating horrific abuses against immigrants or ethnic minorities. To stigmatize those working to prevent such a future is a waste of stigma.