SHAFAQNA – Once again a minority group in the United States has been singled out for special scrutiny. The most recent people to be so stereotyped are Muslim-Americans. Some current political leaders have stated that no more Muslims immigrants should be allowed into the United States for some undetermined amount of time and those living in the United States need to be monitored and require additional surveillance.
Being labeled as dangerous as a result of association with a religious, ethnic or cultural group is not a new phenomenon in the U.S. When our country entered World War I on the side of the Allies, anything German became “suspect.” Sauerkraut became liberty cabbage. Teaching in the German language was prohibited. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt believed it necessary to intern Japanese-Americans living on the West Coast. They were forcibly removed from their homes and businesses and held in camps for the duration of World War II.
In this election year of 2016, some political candidates have chosen to “scapegoat” people identified as Muslim-American. Who are these Muslim-Americans that some political leaders have identified as dangerous?
Currently, Muslim-Americans number about 3.3 million people or 1 percent of the total population of the U.S. They are the third largest religious group in our country and by the year 2050 are projected to be the second largest religious group, surpassing those who identify as Jewish.
They are a well-educated group. About 40 percent of Muslins hold college degrees as compared to the general population in the U.S., which is 29 percent college educated. While Muslims make up only 1 percent of the country’s population, 10 percent of the nation’s medical doctors identify as Muslim.
A 2011 Pew survey found them “highly assimilated into American society and largely content with their lives.” About 70 percent of Muslim immigrants go on to become U.S. citizens, compared with 50 percent of other immigrant groups.
Almost 6,000 Muslims serve in the U.S. armed forces. According to the FBI, most of the tips about radicalized Muslims in the United States come from the Muslim community.
We believe the proposed ban on all immigration of people identified as Muslim is wrong. We believe any proposal that profiles Muslim-Americans and subjects them to special treatment is bad policy, against American values and counterproductive.
We need the support of all citizens to identify and incarcerate those who would do us harm. Only with the help of the Muslim-American community will we be able to identify and stop those who would harm us. Stereotyping an entire group based on the actions of a very small group of people is unfair and wrong. People who have been singled out and subjected to negative scrutiny or action are less inclined to be partners in making our country a better place.
The innocent Japanese-Americans interned during World War II surely have passed their story to succeeding generations. They remember and resent that they were denied equal protection of the law as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. They can also remember with pride that many Japanese-Americans were willing to fight and die for this country during World War II.
We need to build on the talents of all who live in this country. We need the cooperation of all hard-working and law-abiding people who want the American dream for their families. We need the economic contributions of all people regardless of their ethnic, cultural or religious identity. Many religious, ethnic and cultural groups have contributed to the wonderful country we currently enjoy and we must continue to offer those opportunities.
Muslim-Americans are doctors who treat us in the emergency room, lawyers who represent us in court, and people who risk their lives for us on the battlefield as well as on our streets and highways. They teach our children and develop lifesaving medicines. They build our highways and hospitals. They work in our factories and grow our food. They are us. They should not be singled out for special scrutiny, particularly if the purpose is political gain.