It is not unusual for politicians and the media to speak of discrimination and intolerance toward Muslims, but there is little evidence of such prejudice, writes Daniel Pipes in Commentary magazine (November).
Using figures and information provided by Muslim organizations, Pipes writes that in education and the professions Muslims are near the top among ethnic and religious groups. A very high 52 percent have graduate degrees and their income appears to be higher than the national average (their median household income is reported to be $69,000. Pipes adds that Muslims are finding increasing recognition by the government, such as in displaying Muslim symbols along with Christian and Jewish symbols. The U.S. military accommodates Muslim holy days and practices, such as serving meals that do not violate Islamic laws.
The media has often been targeted by some Islamic leaders where Muslims are portrayed negatively. Yet Pipes finds that the “religion itself is portrayed only in positive terms . . . Ramadan inspires a blitz of coverage, with, for example, the Los Angeles Times running no fewer than seven major stories during the holiday season last year and virtually every other Los Angeles outlet following suit.”
Pipes adds that “Sympathetic news reports show Muslims as good neighbors, as classic exemplars of the American dream…” In looking at court cases involving Muslims on such issues as practicing their faith at work and school, wearing particular clothes (such as a veil) and observing holidays, the Muslims “invariably wins” accommodations in most instances.
As legal precedents have been established in these areas of concern, more corporations are changing their policies, such as allowing women to wear the hijab, or head scarf. Pipes finds that surveys show most Muslims agreeing that they have suffered little discrimination; for instance a survey by the American Muslim Council found 66 percent agreeing with the statement that “U.S. society currently shows a respect toward the Muslim faith.”
Pipes attributes the lack of major prejudice to the American willingness to accept other civilizations, as well as the “growth of the regulatory arm of government and especially its readiness to dictate workplace rules.”
(Commentary, 165 E. 56th St., New York, NY 10022)