Arabs and Muslims are NOT Minority Group, They are Very Much Less in America

September 24, 2016

Muslim Social

Hasan A. Yahya, Professor of Sociology

This article is a  call for understanding human cultural nature of equal rights. Studies of history of race relation, sociologically speaking, began early of the twentieth century, when the numbers of Arabs was small, and mostly assimilated to society keeping their own traditions. Young people are more prone to assimilate. This phenomenon is observed in many studies about first, second and third generations. In countries of Malaysia, Indonesia,as well as African  and Europeannations, the same can be said. The last statement will further be discussed in this article in terms of structural assimilation.

Christians were the arrow head for early immigration. For one reason or may be two, one intrinsic and the extrinsic. The first was the effect of Christian Missionaries which encourage moving to the United States. Most early comers were from Syria, Lebanon and Palestine.

The second, however, was the reluctant of Muslims to leave, because of loosing faith, and lack of Mosques in America. In other words, they were afraid of loosing their faith if they step outside their countries.

 Demographically,  according to reports and studies on Arab and Middle Eastern people in North America, since 1945, the waves of immigration were Muslims from both the Middle East and South East Asia (Pakistan, Iran, and Indonesia) . Recent immigration from 1980  to this date,  the oil countries were booming and sent a large numbers every year as students. Many were graduated and return to their countries, a small number remained in the country.

 Unlike early immigration, late immigration is highly qualified and more professional.  And the majority of  early  immigration was of Christian faith, the late immigration was of Muslim faith.

 Estimation of Americans of Arab origins from one to three millions Arab live in the USA. Muslims, however, double or triple that number. In some reports they passed the Jews numbers  in the year 2000.  Others give the number of 11 million taking into consideration the fertility rate among them.

9/11 tragic accident have changed everything related to both early and late groups of immigrants. The mistrust flowed on the service of race relation between Americans and non-Americans, especially Muslims. Lack of knowledge to distinguish who’s who from both types of immigrants brought generalization over all brown skinned people,  even from India and other non-Muslim nations. Christians who were more apt to assimilate to the host country, and millions of young people, who were well educated and knowledgeable of American culture and consider themselves Americans, were under scrutiny from what sociologist s call, the institutional or structural  racism, where people would like to be assimilated and to be considered as Americans,  but the structural system deny that image and treat them as outsiders, no matter how long their ancestors were in the country.

This phenomenon, may be general to all immigrants, but the question: where are you from?  is common in the American culture.  When you answer, from Michigan, in the author’s case, the next question jumped immediately,: I mean, originally.

 Furthermore, no matter immigrants try to assimilate and live in America and enjoy the American dream, their origin pops up in the news media now and then,  So Arab origin, or Muslim origin became famous of bad behavior and inference to the American society.

This media mistake is encouraged for political rather than social propaganda. Part of this image was promoted by non-Arab and Non-Muslim agencies. I believe the negative image was built up, depending on stereotyping theories of assimilation. Even though, the wave of these negative images is related to the amount of knowledge and cultural interaction between American public (Military personnel abroad included) and those of  Middle Eastern immigrants.

While no news reporter on TV or Radio or Newspaper may be found, as able to conduct a non-biased report or interview or with no personal or ideological bias added! It rarely done.

These biases can be found in any society. But the wealth, ownership and ideology are common to all biases around the world. Politically we see the views and differences between democratic and republican parties followers or capitalists and communists or socialists. Between Arab and Jews, between pro tradition and pro modernism.

As an Arab American, I have described in several articles, the role of media in directing the public opinion to the negative images about Arabs and Muslims in the United States.  Especially the media reporting on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Most of the media for a long time, until recently, combine between negative incidents in the society or community with pictures on Arabs or Muslims on the same page of Newspapers, conversely when the issue about their enemies, newspapers show positive images with them. In an article on the subject, I wrote a three parts article, in the first part, for example, I said:

“………. ( I )  came to the conclusion that Arabs and Muslims have a long way to go in America! Where media shows Colored Democracy or many democracy faces or undemocratic Democracy. The survey titled: Israeli and Palestinian voices on the US op-ed pages, made by Patrick O’Connor, Palestine Media Watch, 13 March 2006. In the first part the author describing how Palestinians are generally not allowed In the US media to speak for themselves or to articulate their historical narrative. Israelis, however, are permitted to speak, to explain the Israeli experience and even to explain about Palestinians. As a result, the Israeli story is known in the US while Palestinians are dehumanized. This report exhaustively details the extent to which Palestinian voices have been silenced in the op-ed pages of major US newspapersfor the past five years. This report compares the number of opinion pieces published by Israeli writers with those published by Palestinian writers between September 29, 2000, and December 31, 2005, in the op-ed pages of The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, USA Today, and The Washington Post, the five US newspapers with the greatest circulation. The analysis reveals the following: – Over the five year and three month period, the five newspapers published 680 op-eds on Israel/Palestine. 214 were written by Israeli writers and 86 by Palestinian writers, an average of 2.5 Israeli writers for each Palestinian writer. – The Wall Street Journal has the most lopsided five-year record, averaging 5.1 op-eds by Israelis for every one op-ed by a Palestinian writer. – The New York Times has been the least balanced over the last three years with anaverage of 4.3 Israeli op-ed writers for every Palestinian. – The Los Angeles Times published 2.3 Israeli writers for every Palestinian writer. – The Washington Post (1.4/1) and USA Today (0.8/1) are near parity between Israeli and Palestinian writers. – The relative balance at The Washington Post and USAToday indicates that a bias towards Israeli writers is not inevitable, but is a result of the choices made by the editors at The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times.”(Yahya 2009)

 While earlier in history, the bias in the 1940 was acceptable in a traditional society, it is  worsened over the years, and by the 1980s, it  was pretty bad all over. Many anchors  may be found  on the TV in the 1970s and 1980s, and in the national newspapers, were  biased. The  reason they could get away with airing their bias is that the owners and supporters of the TV stations and newspapers were biased in the same way.  Those who favor these media stations or radio talks, become more and more limiting their intake to only  the TV news of their favorite station. And most people who read the newspaper limit their news intake to only their favorite newspaper. These people are not really “up on the news” to any degree, since all they see or hear is that one biased news source. As Toynbee described the whole western civilization when he wrote sixty years ago:

 “Our present Western outlook on history is an extraordinarily contradictory one. While our historical horizon has been expanding vastly in both the space dimension and the time dimension, our historical vision-what we actually do see, in contrast to what we now could see if we chose-has been contracting rapidly to the narrow field of what a horse sees between its blinkers or what a U-boat commander sees through his periscope.” Toynbee (1948:150)

 Toynbee may be was right in his statement, but this image is general among all cultures, not only the western outlook on history. Unfortunately, Edward Said follows track of Toynbee, but in the other direction. In Said’s view, we see the same U-boat was commanded  by the Arab-American writer. In my view of Crscentology, I emphasize the fact, that both writers were right, but they did not find the way to make the falcon view to see all sides involved.

In conclusion, Arabs and Muslims will, may be, never be considered as minority group by the system  as others, and they have to suffer this universal image in all countries all over the world, even in Arab and Muslim nations such as Malaysia and Indonesia or Europe. Therefore, Arabs and Muslims have to be aware of  this fact and work with it, and  consider themselves full citizens,  in spite of what the host system perceive them.  This needs more education and self confidence among the new generations of Arab and Muslim children to accept integration, participation and sharing values according to the laws and dreams of the country, which every country wishes to accomplish. It will take long time for the the majority of Arabs and Muslims to be accepted as Americans, (or french, or German or British, or else). I think minority groups have to understand this feeling as normal in almost all cultures. They have to defend the same principles of integrity, dreams, values and the spirit of the age, in the host country to contribute in building world civilization rather than limited minority kingdom. ( 1570 words)


Dr. Hasan A. Yahya is a writer, scholar, and professor of philosophy. Has a 2 Ph.d degrees from Michigan State University. He published 53 books plus (40 Arabic and 13 English), and 230 plus articles on sociology, religion, psychology, politics, poetry, and short stories. Philosophically, his writings concern logic, justice and human rights worldwide. Dr. Yahya is the author of Crescentologism: The Moon Theory,  and Islam Finds its Way, on Amazon. He’s an expert on Race Relations and Arab and Islamic cultures, he is not affiliated to any organization but interested in religion, world affairs and  global strategic planning for justice.

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