“Wanna know how hot it is?” the man on the radio asked in the expectant tone that precedes a punch line.

“It’s so hot the Muslim men are taking the towels off their heads to wipe their faces!”

The bigotry in that remark was matched by its ignorance. Not all Muslims are Arab, and not all Arabs wear the headdress known as the keffiyeh. And it’s an entirely different faith, Sikhism, whose adherents wear turbans.

Such subtleties are too often lost on the average American, and despite all the fine words and noble intentions uttered since the 2001 terrorist attacks, the continued lack of knowledge about and respect for Islam and other religions is appalling.

This was underscored in a poll released Tuesday by the Pew Research Center and the Forum on Religion & Public Life. The headline struck a vaguely cheerful note – fewer Americans now say that Islam is more likely than other religions to encourage violence – but the data showed how stuck this nation remains in its insularity and prejudice. (MORE)


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