There is a generally understood caricature of Islamic morals and Muslim culture
that is relatively loosely based in actual Muslim culture. I think, in America, because there are so many cultures that we see and interact with everyday, people rely on the caricatures to understand the people they meet.
It is almost overwhelming to try to have a deep understanding of every culture. Also, with a culture that has been so villainized and presented with anger to the public, there is less of a desire to humanize and understand the ‘enemy.’
It takes time and patience to understand something as complex as the Muslim culture, and those are two qualities many people feel they don’t have to learn.
The fear of Islam fits really well into the visual based culture that has grown with technology. People who practice Islam look, sound, and behave differently than the classic born and raised American.
That, on top of the fact that the people who orchestrated the only major attack on American soil looked and behaved the same way as Muslims, created the perfect villain. Nobody could forgive the attackers because most people couldn’t understand what would drive someone to hate America so intensely.
Then, the media and politicians made the enemy not just these men who already died, but a whole group of people. This way there would always be a new enemy and a new reason to avenge the fallen.
They say that if you hear something enough, then you start to believe it. Also, if you’re never shown the commonalities between yourself and a person who you think you won’t like on first impression, you’ll never see what’s good and human about them.
Hate motivates fear and lingers longer than love and peace.
In the 17 years post 9/11, I personally felt like things were getting better and the raw emotions were starting to be left in the past. Then, ISIS happened and all of that progress just stopped.
Then, Donald Trump happened, and he stirred up all the mega racists and suddenly agreeing with anything Muslim, and being Muslim was really dangerous again.
Honestly, I really don’t know if things ever got better before all this. Going forward, I’m really scared for the future because of how powerful mob mentality is when there’s a common enemy.