The Institutionalization of Islamophobia: How Congress May Let Fear and Hatred Dismantle the Visa Waiver Program

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GOP frontrunner Donald Trump has built his political platform on intolerance, Islamophobia, and nativism, but (at least for the moment) we can take heart that it’s mostly bluster. Sure, more than 40% of his supporters would support Japanese American incarceration, and one-third apparently want to bomb Agrabah — the fictional city that Disney’s Aladdin called home — into oblivion. But, as amusing as this national poll’s findings are, we’re still dealing in the realm of hatespeech. Trump may want to limit Muslim and Muslim American travel, but it remains (for the time being) all talk.

In truth, Trump is a distraction from the far more terrifying hatred that has taken hold of this nation. Since 2001, anti-Muslim hate crimes — which victimizes both Muslims and those whom racists mistake as Muslims — have risen 1600%. Since the San Bernardino shooting, those already high rates of hate crimes have further skyrocketed to even more alarming levels: there have been over 40 anti-Muslim bias incidents recorded in America in the last month alone.

We would like to believe that America’s rising nativism is the work of Rightwing extremists. We would like to imagine that middle-of-the-aisle Democrats and Republicans will do their part to push back against the irrational villanization of the Muslim and Muslim American community. But, we learned this week that our elected representatives are, in some ways, worse than the most outspoken of Trump’s supporters. Whereas Trump’s intolerance is all talk, our political leaders recently used the power of their political office to write Islamophobia into law.

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