Haaretz: How Muslims Replaced Gays and Feminists as the U.S. Right’s Cultural Enemy Number One
Interesting, thoughtful article. As always, avoid the comments.
This is strange. Why are conservatives more hostile to Muslims and Islam today than they were in the terrifying aftermath of 9/11? And why have American Muslims, who in 2000 mostly voted Republican, apparently replaced gays and feminists as the right’s chief culture-war foe?
Muslims have become the right’s greatest cultural enemy in large part because they are what remains after the ideological collapse of the “war on terror.”
For half a century, cultural conservatives have vowed to protect America against threats from domestic insurgencies: black militancy, feminism, the gay-rights movement. But those insurgencies involved large and restive groups. Muslims, by contrast, make up only 1 percent of the U.S. population. And they are not restive. Yes, a tiny share sympathizes with Salafi groups like the Islamic State, or ISIS. But unlike the civil-rights, abortion-rights, and gay-rights activists of eras past, American Muslims are not seeking to transform American culture and law. They are not marching in the streets. For the most part, they constitute a small, well-educated, culturally conservative minority that wants little more from the government than to be left alone.
Muslims have become the right’s greatest cultural enemy in large part because they are what remains after the ideological collapse of the “war on terror.” After September 11, George W. Bush outlined an epic, generational struggle—a successor to World War II and the Cold War—to make the Middle East democratic and pro-American. “In our grief and anger,” he told a joint session of Congress nine days after the attacks, “we have found our mission and our moment.”
For a time, that mission directed the right’s energies outward. Most conservatives (along with many liberals) supported Bush’s efforts to occupy and transform Afghanistan and Iraq. Undergirding these efforts lay a deep confidence in the power of American arms, the size of America’s bank account, and the universal relevance of American democracy. […]