Juan Cole: Historian Says Political Language About Islam Aims to Manipulate Voters

Historians in the News

Americans have a more negative attitude toward Islam now than they did immediately after Sept. 11, a history professor who studies the Middle East and religion told an audience here last week.


Juan R.I. Cole, a professor of history at the University of Michigan, said that immediately after Sept. 11, 30 percent of Americans had a negative view of Islam. But reports published in the Washington Post and USA Today in December 2006 found that 45 percent of Americans held negative views of Islam.

He said such a change "is not natural."

He blamed "the American right wing" and the media for creating this negative view to help win elections.

Cole and Corey P. Saylor, legislative director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, discussed "Exploitation of Islamophobia in Elections," or how they said politicians are creating and exploiting new threatening terms to manipulate public opinion and get their votes. CAIR sponsored the event.

Saylor urged American Muslims to claim their constitutional rights. He said more should seek careers in journalism and government so they could be part of making decisions that affect the country.

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