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Backlash 9/11

Backlash 9/11: Middle Eastern and Muslim Americans Respond

Anny Bakalian
Mehdi Bozorgmehr
Copyright Date: 2009
Edition: 1
Pages: 368
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  • Book Info
    Backlash 9/11
    Book Description:

    For most Americans, September 11, 2001, symbolized the moment when their security was altered. For Middle Eastern and Muslim Americans, 9/11 also ushered in a backlash in the form of hate crimes, discrimination, and a string of devastating government initiatives. This book provides the first comprehensive analysis of the impact of the post-9/11 events on Middle Eastern and Muslim Americans as well as their organized response. Through fieldwork and interviews with community leaders, Anny Bakalian and Mehdi Bozorgmehr show how ethnic organizations mobilized to demonstrate their commitment to the United States while defending their rights and distancing themselves from the terrorists.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-94335-3
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Figures and Tables
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  6. 1 Backlash against Middle Eastern and Muslim Americans
    (pp. 1-31)

    Tuesday, September 11, 2001, stands as one of the darkest days in modern U.S. history. It will long be remembered by the millions of Americans who witnessed the collapse of the Twin Towers over and over on their television screens. For Middle Eastern and Muslim Americans, “9/11” likewise signifies a shocking and sad day, but it also marks the beginning of a new era in which they became the victims of backlash. For many, the tragic events ushered in a period of hate crimes, profiling, and discrimination. Though stereotypes and discriminatory actions were not new to these minorities, the post-9/11...

  7. 2 The Post-9/11 Backlash in Comparative and Historical Perspectives
    (pp. 32-65)

    For American historians the post-9/11 situation must seem like déjà vu. When France opposed the United States’ invasion of Iraq, the congressional cafeteria replaced French fries with “freedom fries.” David Kennedy reminds us that during World War I a hamburger was called a “liberty sandwich” and sauerkraut was dubbed “liberty cabbage” (1980, 68). Today, the “Bolshevik menace” has been replaced by the “Islamic menace.” Some twenty books published within one year after 9/11 depict Muslims as a threat. According to theLos Angeles Timesjournalist Teresa Watanabe, “Two of those books are the best-selling titles among 7,219 books on Islam...

  8. 3 Immigration Patterns, Characteristics, and Identities
    (pp. 66-96)

    Given the dearth of information on Middle Eastern and South Asian immigrants and the extent of misinformation about them, it is necessary to address their migration patterns as well as their demographic and socioeconomic characteristics. These patterns and characteristics, in addition to cultural similarities stemming from their ethnic/religious traditions and historical roots, form the structural basis for their pan-ethnic categories. We begin by exploring the variety of labels and names given to these groups by insiders and outsiders. Next, we list the sources of information about these populations, such as the census. Finally, we analyze patterns of Middle Eastern and...

  9. 4 Organizational Structures and Transformation
    (pp. 97-124)

    Our evidence in this study centers on Middle Eastern and Muslim American community-based organizations (CBOs). We relied heavily on interviews with high-level representatives of these organizations. We should stipulate that this chapter is not what sociologists call an “organizational analysis.” As noted in chapter 1, we believe that organizations and their leaders offer the most advantageous angle for our purpose. The social service agencies, as well as local and national chapters of the Middle Eastern and Muslim national advocacy organizations, were the first-line response to families of detainees and those affected by special registration and other governmental policies. Our study...

  10. 5 Hate Crimes and Bias Incidents
    (pp. 125-155)

    The post-9/11 backlash against Middle Eastern and Muslim Americans followed a chronological sequence. Leaders initially acknowledged that repercussion from the terrorist attacks was mild when compared to historical precedents such as the Japanese internment. Within about six months, however, there was a consolidation of opinion among the leadership that the government policies were going after their constituents. While at the beginning of the crisis the organizations used the law of the land to fight the hate crimes, they could no longer do so with the detentions and the PATRIOT Act. In a sense, they were fighting the law itself. This...

  11. 6 Government Initiatives and the Impact of the Backlash
    (pp. 156-177)

    Coming immediately on the heels of the hate crimes and bias incidents, the government initiatives were interpreted among the Middle Eastern and Muslim American populations as an undeserved infliction of discrimination and suffering. In the language of sociologists (e.g., Mann 2005), this was state repression (chapter 2). These groups were being targeted for no other reason than sharing the terrorists’ ethnic origins (Arab) and religious affiliation (Muslim); they were scapegoats. Unanimously, the leaders we interviewed considered the actions of the administration more harmful to the overall well-being of their communities than the incidents of harassment and hate crimes by ordinary...

  12. 7 Mobilization
    (pp. 178-218)

    The 9/11 terrorist attacks and the subsequent backlash experienced by Middle Eastern and Muslim American populations resulted in a few months of paralysis, isolation, and retrenchment. “People were in shock and they were hiding. They didn’t know how to react or what to do,” said a respondent in Brooklyn. “People are tending to isolate themselves and insulate themselves in their compacted ghetto areas,” noted another in Dearborn. When we asked a respondent how she had handled the crisis, she replied: “We’re just like anybody else who lives in New York City. We were shocked. We were afraid. We were sad....

  13. 8 Religious Accommodation, Civic Engagement, and Political Integration
    (pp. 219-252)

    Despite the painful outcomes of the terrorist attacks, new opportunities opened up for Middle Easterners and Muslims, allowing them to emerge as a distinct, visible category in American society. In this respect, their ordeal was transformative and empowering. In this chapter we first examine the Americanization of Islam, looking in particular at institutional changes and their limitations and exploring interfaith relations. Next, we discuss the leaders’ visions of integration into American society, including getting out of the ghetto, gaining English fluency, and being politically active. As the saying goes, the leaders not only talked the talk but walked the walk;...

  14. APPENDIX. A Time Line of Government Initiatives and Actions
    (pp. 253-266)
  15. Notes
    (pp. 267-308)
  16. References
    (pp. 309-332)
  17. Index
    (pp. 333-348)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 349-349)