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Two thirds of Americans have heard nothing about the congressional probe on Muslims (but most support it)

A Public Religion Research Institute poll found that “two-thirds (65%) report having heard nothing at all about” upcoming congressional hearings on “alleged extremism in the American Muslim community.”

Yet, when questioned, a “majority (56%) of Americans say that” the hearings House Homeland Security Committee Chairm Rep. Peter King (R-NY) are a good idea.

Religion News Service explored the islamophoia obvious in the findings:

Peter Gottschalk, co-author of “Islamophobia: Making Muslims the Enemy,” said the findings reflect the impact of recent waves of anti-Muslim rhetoric surrounding burning the Quran and opposing the construction of mosques.

“The Muslim community has been fairly successful at demonstrating themselves as neighbors, but the question becomes are they good neighbors?” said Gottschalk, chairman of the religion department at Wesleyan University.

There is a significant relationship between that islamophobia and preference for Fox News as an information source, the Public Religion Research Institute poll found:

More than three-quarters (76%) of those who most trust Fox News say [the hearings are a] good idea compared to only 45% of those who most trust CNN and 28% of those who most trust Public television.

The survey findings also show a significant correlation between trust in Fox News and negative attitudes about Muslims. Americans who most trust Fox News are more likely to believe that Muslims want to establish Shari’a law, have not done enough to oppose extremism, and believe investigating Muslim extremism is a good idea. There are even differences among Republicans and white evangelicals who trust Fox news most and those who trust other media.

  • Republicans who say Fox News is their most trusted news source are more likely than Republicans who trust a different news source to say they are well-informed about Islam (53% to 34%). They are also more likely than Republicans who most trust other news sources to say the hearings are a good thing (82% to 60%).
  • White evangelicals who most trust Fox News are much more likely than those who trust a different news source to say they feel informed about Islam than those who trust other sources of news (70% to 37%). This same group of evangelicals is also more likely than their counterparts who most trust other news sources to say the hearings are a good thing (84% to 60%).

Fox News’ cultivation of the reflexive human fear of “the other” can have profoundly destructive consequences, as Nicole Neroulias obliquely notes in her Beliefnet blog:

As Islamophobia expert Peter Gottschalk explained, in a quote that didn’t make it into my story: “Most Americans were also in favor of the Patriot Act, because they didn’t think they were the ones who would be investigated – but, compare that to the outrage over the invasiveness of TSA screenings, which everyone experiences.”

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February 18, 2011 - Posted by | Poll |

1 Comment

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