On a typical workday, Ibrahim Hooper of the Council on American-Islamic Relations talks to a dozen or so print and broadcast reporters.
“The vast majority does a pretty good job and they need to be congratulated,” he said.
It’s another story when Hooper watches cable TV commentators, listens to talk radio or surfs hundreds of anti-Islamic Web sites. “The level of anti-Muslim rhetoric is growing in quantum leaps since 9/11,” he said.
Hooper and other experts addressed “Islamaphobia” in the media during a panel discussion Sunday at the Islamic Society of North America’s annual convention at the Donald E. Stevens Convention Center in Rosemont.
Web sites are especially virulent, Hooper said. Consider these comments recently posted on the blog of Robert Spencer, director of Jihad Watch and author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades).
• “If I happen to wax hateful and angry from time to time when it comes to the subject of Islam, that is the fault of Islam and its thriving terrorist establishment. . . . It is good to hate your enemies: We are going to have to kill them.”
• “Islam is not only a cult, it’s a political movement. As such it contravenes the constitution and espouses treason.”
• “I hate is-lame with an incandescent intensity.”
(Spencer says he does not hate Muslims. Postings from others “are unmoderated and do not necessarily reflect the views of Jihad Watch or Robert Spencer.”)
Anti-Islamic prejudice “is increasingly bleeding into mainstream media,” Hooper said. After Sept. 11, columnist Ann Coulter wrote, “We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity.”
Before Sept. 11, Coulter “would have faced swift repudiation from her colleagues,” Hooper said. “Now it’s accepted as legitimate commentary.”