InsightJuly August 2006

American Democracy And Comparative Ethnic Performance: Muslims, Blacks And Jews

Ali A. Mazrui

Muslims in the United States face three cultural crises relevant to their roles as citizens – the crisis of identity, the crisis of participation and the crisis of values and code of conduct.

The crisis of identity involves their determining who they are and how to reconcile their multiple allegiances. The crisis of participation involves decisions about how far to be active in community life and public affairs. The third crisis of values concerns a general code of ethical conduct and of policy preferences – ranging from Muslim attitudes to abortion to Muslim concerns about homosexuality. We plan to take each of these three crises in turn, but bearing in mind that in real life they are inter-related and intertwined.

In relation to these three concerns of identity, participation and code of conduct, American Muslims are best studied comparatively.[1] As identities, Jews and Muslims are mutually exclusive categories. One cannot be both a Muslim and a Jew. On the other hand, Blacks and Muslims are overlapping identities. Indeed, up to a third of the population of Muslims in the United States are either African American or African.[2]

As U.S. Muslims struggle to define themselves in America, they may have lessons to learn from both the Black experience and Jewish self-definitions.

On the issue of political participation, Jews and Blacks in the United States are contrasting paradigms. American Jews may well be the most active participants of all major groups in the American political process. Jews participate not merely in the final voting, but also in the choice of candidates for the primaries, in the debates of the issues, and in making political financial contributions to the candidates or parties of their choice. Between elections Jews are also exceptionally participatory in trying to influence policy-options in Congress, the White House and in State legislatures.[3]

On the other hand, African Americans are among the least participatory of all American voters. The majority of them do not have faith in the electoral process or in the political system as a whole. A large proportion of African Americans are also too poor to read newspapers, follow political trends, or have the time to be politically active citizens.[4] American Muslims are caught between these two paradigms of massive Jewish engagement and substantial Black disengagement from the political process.

The most emotional issues for Jews and Muslims have in the past been related to foreign policy. Jews vote in American elections partly on the basis of which candidate is more committed to the state of Israel.[5] American Muslims are emotionally involved in such foreign policy issues as Palestine, Kashmir, Iran, Afghanistan and Iraq.[6]

African Americans, on the other hand, are much more concerned with such domestic issues as affirmative action, vouchers for schools, the politics of urban renewal, from welfare to workfare, and racial discrimination in such fields as law enforcement and the judicial process.[7]

Jews and Muslims in the United States are therefore divided mainly on foreign policy issues. They are certainly on opposing sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. African Americans and Muslims are united mainly on race and civil liberties. Since September 11, 2001, the prejudices of “driving while black” have been compounded by the bigotry of “flying while Muslim”.[8]

Because of their well-earned success, U.S. Jews are a powerful minority in the American political process. Because of their history as a disadvantaged racial group, African Americans are a relatively marginalized minority in the American political order. U.S. Muslims would like to be like the Jews in level of success (vertical admiration) but are not keen to be integrated with them (horizontal empathy).

In the American system African Americans are not a collective role-model (because of vertical marginalization). But U.S. Muslims and African Americans have been exploring ways of solidarity (horizontal Afro-Islamic inter-linkage). Let us explore more fully the relationships between Islam and the Black experience, on the one hand, and Islam and the Jewish experience, on the other hand.

Comparative Identity and the Jewish Question

Muslims in the United States have begun to outnumber Jews in the twenty-first century.[9] The two groups were already numerically neck-and-neck (about 6 million each) in the year 2000. However, contemporary Muslim influence on U.S. foreign and domestic programs continues to be only a fraction of the influence exercised by Jewish Americans. This is partly because Jewish identity is consolidated enough to be focused and probably because Jewish Americans are more strategically placed in the economy, in the media, in institutions of higher learning, and in the political process.[10]

From the point of view of response to public affairs, Muslims in the United States respond to four principal identities in themselves. Muslims respond to the emotional pulls and sentiments of their own national origins (e.g. as Pakistanis, Indonesians, Iranians, Somali, or Egyptians.)[11]

Second, Muslims also act in response to their racial identities, given the race-conscious nature of American society. Among U.S. Muslims the racial factor has historically been particularly immediate among African Americans, who currently constitute more than thirty percent of the Muslim population of the United States. Third, U.S. Muslims try to influence policy as Muslims per se – such as the former activities of the American Muslim Council, which is based in Washington, DC.[12] The Council once served as a lobby on both the Congress and the Federal Government on issues which have ranged from Bosnia to the Anti-Terrorism Act or the Patriot Act and their implications for civil liberties. Since September 11, 2001, U.S. Muslims have also felt exposed to new kinds of Islamophobia.[13]

Fourth, American Muslims may also act, quite simply, as Americans. As concerned or patriotic U.S. citizens, they may take positions on the size of the federal budget, or on how to deal with the trade imbalance with China, or on the future role of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or how to deal with large-scale corporate corruption.

In all these four identities (national origins, race, religion, and U.S. citizenship), American Muslims have become more organized and less inhibited since the last quarter of the twentieth century than they ever were before – with the possible exception of the followers of the Nation of Islam who have never been politically inhibited since they first came into being in the 1930s. Even the impact of September 11, 2001, has not forced U.S. Muslims back into a low-profile national role.

As U.S. Muslims face a crisis of identity partly based on their countries of origin, let us bear in mind estimates of such origins. According to some estimates, U.S. Muslims are about a third Black, a third South Asian (Pakistan, India and Bangladesh), a quarter Arab and the rest other groups.

Other estimates put the African American Muslim component as high as 42%, but this is strongly contested.

As U.S. Muslims face a crisis of participation, they see Jews as exceptionally participatory, and American Blacks as reluctant participants. According to some estimates, Jewish voters have a continuing record of 80% turnout.

On the other hand, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, African American voting participation in Congressional elections in 1998 was 40%, half that of the Jews put a 3% increase from 1994.

In the 2000 Presidential elections, African American participation was exceptionally high, but it was still below the overall national level of all groups, and certainly well below the level of Jewish participation.

The Muslim dilemma continues to be a dilemma between the Jewish model and the Black experience. Muslims would like to be similar to the Jews in performance, but would not seek Jewish partnership for now. A Muslim “yes” to Jewish performance; but a Muslim “no” to Jewish partnership for now.

Muslim attitudes to African Americans is the reverse. They would like a partnership with Blacks but not the performance of Blacks to date. A Muslim “no” to Black performance to date, but a Muslim “yes” to Black partnership as soon as possible.

What about the attitude of African American Muslims to the comparison between Jews and other African Americans? It would be unnatural if any African American (Muslim or non-Muslim) did not wish for the Black race a level of worldly achievement attained by the Jews, provided it was not at the cost of other people. But what is the scale of Jewish achievement in the United States?

It has been estimated that as the twentieth century was coming to a close, Jews in the U.S.A. made up 50% of the top two hundred intellectuals, 20% of professors at the top universities, 40% of partners in leading law firms in New York and Washington, D.C., and nearly 60% of the directors, writers, and producers of the 50 top-grossing pictures from the 1960s to 1980s, and 58% of directors, writers and producers in some major primetime television series. This is a performance which U.S. Muslims could not but envy. It is also well above the performance of white gentiles.

On the other hand, according to the African American scholar, Manning Marable of Columbia University, African Americans only comprise 6.1 percent of all U.S. faculty in 2001, and even that figure could include adjuncts and part-timers. In the highest ranking research institutions, African Americans have comprised only 3.6%. As for the most prestigious American Academy of Arts and Science, African Americans comprise only 1.6%. If Barack Obama, the Kenyan-American, is elected to the United States Senate in 2004, he will be only the third Black to serve in the U.S. Senate since Reconstruction, and only the fifth ever.

In contrast, Jews in the U.S. Senate are not only always there, but are often a tenth of the total Senate membership (ten out of 100 Senators).

And yet Jews are a mere 2% of the population of the United States, while African Americans are some 12%. Indeed, the population of African Americans is more than twice the population of the Jews of the whole world, including Israel.

It is, therefore, not surprising that Muslims in the United States [including African American Muslims] should wish for a Jewish level of performance without necessarily seeking, for the time being, Jewish bonds of partnership. Most Muslims (including Black Muslims) would say “yes” to Jewish performance and “no” to Jewish partnership for the time being.

On the other hand, U.S. Muslims aspire to forge a partnership with African Americans as soon as possible, but are not yet inspired by Black success in using the American system to Black advantage. The dilemma persists for American Muslims (including African American Muslims). The overwhelming Muslim answer is “yes” to Black partnership, but “no” to Black performance in the U.S. system so far.

We know that as long as the Israeli-Palestinian problem persists, a sensible partnership between Muslims and Jews is bound to be elusive. What is less well known is that the Israeli-Palestinian bloody stalemate is also a threat to a partnership between Muslims and African Americans. Too close an alliance between African Americans and Muslim Americans is regarded as a threat by Jewish Americans. As Lisa Richardson observed in the Los Angeles Times:

The success of Jewish groups in helping to defeat two longtime African American members of Congress has further frayed the damaged relationship between leaders of Black and Jewish organizations. In the wake of [the 2002] ousting of Representative Cynthia A. McKinney in a Georgia Democratic Primary, some African American political activists and leaders are expressing outrage at Jewish organizations that targeted McKinney because she expressed pro-Palestinian sentiments about the Middle East crisis. McKinney lost to Denise Majette, a former state judge, who is also Black but benefited from out-of-state contributions from Jewish groups and crossover voting by republicans. Also [in 2002] another Black member of Congress, Representative Earl F. Hilliard of Alabama, who had pro-Arab support, was defeated by Arthur Davis, who was funded by backers of Israel.[14]

For as long as the Israeli-Palestinian problem is unresolved, African American leaders are expected to be pro-Israel or lose their offices. A partnership between African Americans and Muslim Americans arouses defensive reactions from Jewish Americans.

Muslims in the United States also face a crisis of values. Among immigrant Americans the social values they espouse resemble closely the social values of Republicans – often the less liberal Republicans.

Muslim support for the death penalty is 68%, opposition to the sale of pornography 65%, opposition to physician assisted suicide 61%, support for making abortion less easily available 57%, support for vouchers to send children to private schools 68%, support for prayer in schools 53%, support for displaying the Ten Commandments in schools 59%.

African American Muslim values are closer to the values of other African Americans – with greater emphasis on issues like job opportunities, affirmative action, reform of the judicial system – all of them more liberal than the social values of immigrant Muslims.

American Islam: Immigrant and Home-Grown

In places like Britain, France and Germany both Islam as a civilization and local Muslims as residents are widely regarded as foreign even when the Euro-Muslims are citizens of the European countries. In the United States, on the other hand, half the Muslim population will soon consist of descendants of families who have been Americans for hundreds of years. A third of Muslims in the United States are already African Americans. This creates a different situation from that of Europe.

In Europe both Islam and Muslims may be regarded as foreign; but in the United States such an equation is increasingly difficult. Islam may be new, but its followers will include millions who have been part of American history for two or three hundred years. African-American Muslim population is expanding significantly.

But even the immigrant half of the Muslim population of the United States is operating in a country of immigrants any how – unlike the immigrant Muslims of France, Britain and Germany.

In the United States it has been possible for an immigrant with a heavy foreign accent to become the most outstanding non-presidential American statesman of the second half of the 20th century – Henry Kissinger, the brilliant Jewish Secretary of State.

So even the immigrant Muslims in the USA are, in that special American sense, less foreign than the Muslim immigrants in Europe. But there is no doubt of the reality that the United States faces a TALE OF TWO ISLAMS.

We define “indigenous” in the United States in this article as people who have been American for at least two centuries. We might therefore conclude that indigenous American Muslims are mainly African Americans, with a small percentage of white Americans.

We regard immigrant Americans in this essay as those who have been part of American society for less than a century. Immigrant American Muslims are mainly from Asia, the Middle East and Africa in recent times. Some are from Muslim Europe.

While indigenous American Muslims are highly sensitive to issues of domestic policy in the United States, immigrant American Muslims are more sensitive to the foreign policy of the United States.

The problem of low income families among indigenous Muslims may be above the national average – this is to say, there are too many poor families. On the other hand, the proportion of families in the professional class among immigrant Muslims (teachers, lawyers, corporate managers, doctors, engineers and others) may be above the national average.

Indigenous Muslims (especially African Americans) tend to rebel against the mythology of the American dream as a pursuit of personal advancement in conditions of economic rivalry. Immigrant Muslims, on the other hand, seem to be like Jewish Americans — disproportionately persuaded that there is more opportunity than oppression in capitalism.

Indigenous American Muslims are new to Islam but old to America (though Islam did once arrive in the Americas with enslaved Africans in chains). Today African American Muslims are fully Americanized but not always fully Islamized. Warath Deen Mohammed is among those who are both fully American and fully Muslim.

With immigrant Muslims the situation is the reverse. They are old to Islam but new to America. They are often substantially Islamized but not yet fully Americanized.

Indigenous American Muslims are overwhelmingly unilingual – speaking only English (standard or dialect or both) though they often learn some modest Arabic for purposes of Islamic ritual. Immigrant Muslims are often bilingual and even trilingual. At home they may even speak more than one European language. Lebanese Americans may speak French, Arabic as well as English.

Indigenous American Muslims are weak economically, but as African Americans they have considerable potential political leverage. After all, the population of African Americans generally is much larger than the population of the Jews of the whole world added together. And yet at the moment the influence of African Americans on US foreign policy is only a fraction of the influence of Jewish Americans. Will the difference in leverage narrow in the 21st century? Will African-American influence reflect the political importance of Islam among American Blacks?

If indigenous Americans are currently economically weak but potentially strong politically, the immigrant Muslims may be in the reverse predicament. They may be politically weak but with considerable potential for economic and professional leverage.

The population of indigenous Muslims may expand as a result of the new Republican attacks on welfare, Medicaid, and on the safety nets which had once been provided for the Black poor. More poor Blacks may turn to Islam. On the other hand, the population of immigrant Muslims may decline as a result of more strict laws against immigration from all parts of the world. Muslim immigration may also suffer from how the new anti-terrorist legislation is actually implemented on the ground. Individual immigration officers might be encouraged to be particularly harsh to visa candidates from the Muslim world in the aftermath of September 11, 2001.[15]

But when all is said and done, the two sets of Muslims in the United States (indigenous and immigrant) are in the process of being forged into the largest Muslim nation in the Western hemisphere of Christopher Columbus, the Americas. In 1492 the Islamic presence in Spain was ended. In 1492 Christopher Columbus opened up the Americas for the West. Five hundred years later an Islamic presence was trying to establish itself in the lands which Columbus helped to open up for Spain and the West. Was history indulging her ironic sense of humour all over again? The heirs of the Hijrah became simultaneously heirs to the Mayflower.

In foreign policy the four identities of U.S. Muslims play their part. The issue of national origins, the membership of a racial group, the power of religious affiliation, and the moral concerns of U.S. Muslims as ordinary Americans – such a confluence of identities is part of the politics of pluralism, part of policy-formation in a liberal democratic order.

But in the final analysis the cultural dimension of the American Muslim experience is not simply this crisis of identity. It is also the simultaneous and interrelated crises of participation and code of conduct. It still remains a drama in three Acts. First Act: Am I an American first or a Muslim first? Which comes first – and under what circumstances? Second Act: Do I accept to be a participant in the American constitutional process? Third Act: Is my code of conduct as a Muslim compatible with my code of conduct as an American? The heritage of the Hijrah and the legacy of the Mayflower are in search of a moral synthesis.

We have sought to demonstrate in this essay that one approach towards understanding Muslims in the American public space is to view Muslims comparatively. The Muslim predicament in America is caught between the lessons of the Black experience and the power of the Jewish example.

Jews are the America of achievement. Blacks are the America of potential. Muslims are caught between the pursuit of their potential and the lure of ultimate achievement. The struggle for readjustment continues.

ENDNOTES

I am indebted to Dr. Thomas Uthup and Dr. Amadu Jacky Kaba for bibliographical guidance.

[1] For some related discussions on Islam and Muslims in the United States and the West, see, for example, Iftikhar H. Malik, Islam and Modernity : Muslims in Europe and the United States (London and Sterling, VA : Pluto Press, 2004), pp. 156-180; Richard Wormser, American Islam : Growing Up Muslim in America (New York : Walker & Co., 2002); Asma Gull Hasan American Muslims : The New Generation (New York : Continuum, 2002 Edition, 2nd. ed.); Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad, Ed., Muslims in the West : From Sojourners to Citizens (Oxford and New York : Oxford University Press, 2002); Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad and Jane I. Smith, Muslim Minorities in the West: Visible and Invisible (Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press, 2002); Sam Afridi, Muslims in America : Identity, Diversity and the Challenge of Understanding (New York City, NY : Carnegie Corporation of New York, 2001); Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad and John L. Esposito, Eds., Muslims on the Americanization Path? (Oxford and New York : Oxford University Press, 2000); and Jane I. Smith, Islam in America (New York : Columbia University Press, 1999).

[2] According to one survey of US Muslims, 30 percent are black, 33 percent South Asian, and 25 percent Arab (the survey did not include followers of the Nation of Islam); see The Baltimore Sun (April 27, 2001) p. 4. Other estimates put the African American Muslim population at a higher percentage (as high as 42 percent); for example, see Karen Leonard, “South Asian Leadership of American Muslims,” in Haddad, Ed. Muslims in the West: From Sojourners to Citizens, p. 233.

[3] On Jewish participation in the US political system, see, for example, Rafael Medoff ; foreword by Edward I. Koch, Jewish Americans and Political Participation : A Reference Handbook (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2002) and Sandy Maisel and Ira N. Forman, Eds., Jews in American Politics (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2001). Jewish voting turnout is as high as 80 percent, according to one report, “Given that Jews turn out at an 80 percent turnout rate . . .,” said Nathan Diament, a lobbyist for the Orthodox Jewish movement. Quoted in Dana Milbank and Mike Allen, “Move Could Help Bush Among Jewish Voters,” The Washington Post (April 15, 2004), p. 16.

[4]According to the United States Census Bureau, African Americans voter participation in congressional elections in 1998 was 40 percent, a 3% increase from 1994. See U.S. Census Bureau. “African Americans Defy Trend of Plunging Voter Turnout, Census Bureau Reports”. July 19, 2000. Retrieved May 1, 2004 from (http://www.census.gov/Press/www/2000/cb00-114.html). In the 2000 presidential elections, “The voting rate for African American citizens increased by 4 percentage points, to 57 percent; The voting rate for all citizens was 60 percent. See U.S. Census Bureau. “Registered Voter Turnout Improved in 2000 Presidential Election, Census Bureau Reports”. February 27, 2002. Retrieved on May 1, 2004 from (http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/2002/cb02-31.html).

For a discussion about African American participation in the political system, see Clarence Lusane, “Hands across the Atlantic: Comparison of Black American and Black British Electoral Politics,” in James Jennings, Ed., Race and Politics: New Challenges and Responses for Black Activism (London and New York: Verso, 1997), pp. 114-119.

According to Human Rights Watch:

Among Florida’s African American residents, the impact of the state’s disenfranchisement laws is particularly dramatic: 31.2% of black men in Florida — more than 200,000 potential black voters — were excluded from the polls. Assuming the voting pattern of black ex-felons would have been similar to the vote by black residents in Florida generally, the inability of these ex-offenders to vote had a significant impact on the number voting for Vice President Gore.

See Human Rights Watch “US Election 2000. Losing the Vote: The Impact of Felony Disenfranchisement Laws”.. November 8, 2000. Retrieved from (http://www.hrw.org/campaigns/elections/results.htm) on May 1, 2004

The poverty rate of African Americans in 2000 was 22.1%, significantly higher than the national average of 11.3% during that same year. See U.S. Census Bureau, “Nation’s Household Income Stable in 2000, Poverty Rate Virtually Equals Record Low, Census Bureau Reports” September 21, 2001. Retrieved on May 1, 2004 from (http://landview.census.gov/Press-Release/www/release/archives/income_wealth/000393.html).

As Manning Marable has pointed out in his column (available at http://www.manningmarable.net/), “Blacks in Higher Education: An Endangered Species,” (published July 2002, accessed April 6, 2004)), it is necessary to disaggregate the numbers of African Americans in the highest levels of academia, not just at student enrollment level. He points out that African Americans only comprise 6.1 percent of all US faculty in 2001, but that figure could include part-timers and adjuncts. However, in the twenty-seven most highly-ranked research institutions, they only comprised 3.6 percent; and in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the most prestigious intellectual academic group in the country, African Americans comprise a measly 1.6 percent.

[5]Reporting on Jewish Americans’ political activity on the basis of Congressional representatives’ view of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, Lisa Richardson of the Los Angeles Times writes that:

The success of Jewish groups in helping to defeat two longtime African American members of Congress has further frayed the damaged relationship between leaders of black and Jewish organizations. In the wake of Tuesday’s ousting of Rep. Cynthia A. McKinney in a Georgia Democratic primary, some African American political activists and leaders are expressing outrage at Jewish organizations that targeted McKinney because she had expressed pro-Palestinian sentiments about the Middle East crisis. McKinney lost to Denise Majette, a former state judge who is also black but benefited from out-of-state contributions from Jewish groups and crossover voting by Republicans. Also this year, another black member of Congress, Rep. Earl F. Hilliard of Alabama, who had pro-Arab support, was defeated by Artur Davis, who was funded by backers of Israel.

Lisa Richardson, “Political Ties Between Blacks and Jews Strained”. Los Angeles Times. (August 23, 2002), retrieved on May 1, 2004 from (http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-tension23aug23002048.story).

James P. Moran, Democratic Representative from a seat in Virginia, was accused of being anti-Semitic after having said in March 2003, “If it were not for the strong support of the Jewish community for this war with Iraq, we would not be doing this. . .The leaders of the Jewish community are influential enough that they could change the direction of where this is going, and I think they should.” See Maria Glod, “Comments On Jews Shadow Moran,” The Washington Post (April 19, 2004), p. B01.

The importance of Israel for most Jews is encapsulated in the words of Eric Cantor, the House Chief Deputy Whip (and the only House Jewish Republican). “For the mainstream Jewish community, Israel is of paramount importance.” Quoted in Dana Milbank and Mike Allen, “Move Could Help Bush Among Jewish Voters,” The Washington Post (April 15, 2004), p. A16.

For a general discussion on Jewish political participation, see Medoff, Jewish Americans and Political Participation, pp. 189-208.

[6]See Malik, Islam and Modernity, pp. 176-177. Jeff Phillips, reporting for the BBC in Washington, on a survey of US Muslims, pointed out that 88.7% of Muslim Americans want an independent Palestinian state; See Jeff Phillips, Muslims ‘Key’ to US Elections”. August 29, 2000. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/901033.stm (accessed April 20, 2004). In particular, Arab Americans have been approached for their political support, since their numbers may be pivotal in some battleground states in the 2004 Presidential race; see David Broder’s op-ed piece, “Mobilizing Arab Americans,” The Washington Post (October 22, 2003), p. 29.

[7] For more analysis of African Americans’ political participation in the United States and discussion of their issues, consult Katherine Tate, Black Faces in the Mirror: African Americans and Their Representatives in the U.S. Congress (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2003); Jeremy D. Mayer, Running on Race: Racial Politics in Presidential Campaigns 1960-2000. (New York: Random House, 2002); and James S. Jackson, editor New Directions: African Americans in a Diversifying Nation (Washington, DC; Ann Arbor, MI: National Policy Association and Program for Research on Black Americans, University of Michigan, 2000).

[8] The difficulties faced by Muslim travelers at airports – including this author – was reported in The Washington Post (September 14, 2003), p. 8.

[9]Numbers of Muslims in the United States vary. According to one study conducted by Professor Ihsan Bagby of Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina (as part of a larger study of American congregations called “Faith Communities Today,” coordinated by Hartford Seminary’s Hartford Institute for Religious Research, there are approximately 6 million Muslims in the U.S. with over 2 million of these being regularly participating adult attenders at the more than 1,209 mosques/masjids in the United States. (The full report is available at http://www.cair-net.org/mosquereport/, accessed April 19, 2004) .The television program Frontline also points out that, “The estimated 5-7 million Muslims in the U.S. include both immigrants and those born in America. (three-quarters of whom are African Americans).” “Portraits of Ordinary Muslims: United States” Frontline. Aired on PBS Television on May 9, 2002. Retrieved on May 1, 2004 from (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/muslims/portraits/us.html).

[10] A number of observers (including Jews themselves) have pointed to the disproportionate numbers and influence of Jews in various sectors of the US government, commerce, education, and entertainment. For example:

· It is one of the worst-kept secrets in American Jewish politics that the campaign contribution is a major key to Jewish power.

J. J. Goldberg, Jewish Power: Inside the American Jewish Establishment (Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1996), p. 266.

· Jews provided at least half the money donated to the DNC [Democratic National Committee] in the 1998 and 2000 election cycles. At the RNC, Lew Eisenberg, who is Jewish, was finance chairman until he became finance chairman of the host committee for the Republican National Convention recently. At Bush-Cheney fundraisers in Washington, California, New York and Florida, rabbis gave the invocations.

Ira N. Forman, executive director of the National Jewish Democratic Council, said that Jews are the most politicized ethnic group in the country. “Karl Rove has a Jewish strategy,” Forman said. “It’s largely about money — but it goes way beyond that.”

Laura Blumenfeld, “Terrorism Jars Jewish, Arab Party Loyalties,” The Washington Post (December 7, 2003) p. A1

· Although less than two percent of the US population is Jewish, of the 100-member Senate body, ten are Jewish. These are Carl Levin, Arlen Specter, Frank Lautenberg, Herb Kohl, Joe Lieberman, Dianne Feinstein, Barbara Boxer, Russell Feingold, Ron Wyden and Charles Schumer.

See, for a list of past and current Jewish Senators, Maisel and Forman, Jews in American Politics, pp. 449; a complete roster for all major political positions is available in the same publication, pp. 449-470.

· . . .the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Long regarded as the most effective foreign-policy lobby in Washington, AIPAC has an annual budget of $19.5 million, a staff of 130, and 60,000 members. Those members constitute a powerful grass-roots network that can be activated almost instantly to press Congress to take this action or that.

Michael Massing, “Deal Breakers,” The American Prospect (March 11, 2002) Vol. 13, No. 5, p. 18.

Jews played a central role in American finance during the 1980s, and they were among the chief beneficiaries of that decade’s corporate mergers and reorganizations. Today, though barely two percent of the nation’s population is Jewish, close to half its billionaires are Jews. The chief executive officers of the three major television networks and the four largest film studios are Jews, as are the owners of the nation’s largest newspaper chain and the most influential single newspaper, the New York Times.

Benjamin Ginsberg, The Fatal Embrace: Jews and the State (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993) p. 1.

· Jews are only 3 percent of the nation’s population and comprise 11 percent of what this study defines as the nation’s elite. However, Jews constitute more than 25 percent of the elite journalists and publishers, more than 17 percent of the leaders of important voluntary and public interest organizations, and more than 15 percent of the top ranking civil servants.

Ginsberg, The Fatal Embrace, p. 103.

· During the last three decades Jews [in the United States] have made up 50 percent of the top two hundred intellectuals … 20 percent of professors at the leading universities, 27 percent of high civil servants, 40 percent of partners in the leading law firms in New York and Washington … 59 percent of the directors, writers, and producers of the 50 top-grossing motion pictures from 1965 to 1982, and 58 percent of directors, writers, and producers in two or more primetime television series.

Seymour Martin Lipset and Earl Raab, Jews and the New American Scene (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1995), pp. 26-27.

· At the elite Ivy League schools, Jews make up 23 percent of the student body. They are a measly 2 percent of the U.S. population.

Richard Cohen, “A Study in Differences ” Washington Post (May 28, 2002) p. A17.

[11] See Afridi, Muslims in America, p. 4. Other works that may be consulted on American Muslims include Wormser, American Islam and Hasan, American Muslims.

[12] Other groups and organizations established by Muslims in the United States to correct stereotypes and influence policy include the Committee for American Islamic Relations, based in Washington, D.C. and the Muslim Public Affairs Council; see Robert Marquand and Lamis Andoni, “Muslims Learn to Pull Political Ropes in US”, Christian Science Monitor (February 5, 1996) p. 10.

[13]Incidents of bias against Muslims have also increased due to, among other reasons, the war in Iraq; see Mary Beth Sheridan, “Bias Against Muslims Up 70%,” Washington Post (May 3, 2004), p. A 12. For a critical discussion on Islamophobia, see Fred Halliday, September11: Two Hours That Shook the World: Causes and Consequences (London: Saqi Books, 2002), pp. 121-131.

[14] Lisa Richardson, “Political Ties Between Blacks and Jews Strained,” Los Angeles Times, August 23, 2002.

[15] The number of temporary visas issued to Middle Easterners (except Israel) & South Asians by the U.S. State Department between Sept. 11, 2001 and March 31, 2002 and temporary visas issued the same time last year, declined by 41.2%, from 315,120 to 196,190. See Joseph A. D’Agostino, “U.S. Has Given 50,000 Visas Since 9-11 To New Visitors From the Middle East.” Human Events (Week of April Dec.8, 2001).

(Presented at a symposium on “Muslims in America – Islam and Democracy” sponsored by Wayne Community College, Detroit, Michigan, September 24, 2004. This paper is indebted to Mazrui’s earlier work on religion and ethnicity in the United States.)

ENDNOTESS
I am indebted to Dr. Thomas Uthup and Dr. Amadu Jacky Kaba for bibliographical guidance.

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