As the war on terror heads into its sixth year, a new racial stereotype is emerging in America. Brown-skinned men with beards and women with head scarves are seen as “Muslims” — regardless of their actual faith or nationality.
Law enforcement measures, politicians, religious leaders and the media have contributed to stereotyping Muslims as a race — echoing the painful history of another faith.
“Muslims are the new Jews,” said Paul Silverstein, an anthropology professor at Reed College in Oregon who studies the intersection of race, immigration and Islam. “They’re the object of a series of stereotypes, caricatures and fears which are not based in a reality and are independent of a person’s experience with Muslims.”
The Muslim caricature has ensnared Hindus, Mexicans and others across the country with violence, suspicion and slurs. And it has given new form to this country’s age-old dance around racial identity.