I travel to the Middle East at least once each year, often visiting multiple countries. I belong to an evangelical-Muslim discussion group which meets annually, and the participants include pious, brilliant, generous Muslim scholars whom I count as my friends. When a topic like "Islamophobic America" comes up, I share intense personal e-mails with them. But I came away from my trip to the Middle East this past summer with some new concerns.
I used to sit on the front porch with my grandmother, otherwise the gentlest, most unconditionally loving person in my young life, while she regaled me with stories about what was going on under the dome of the Roman Catholic cathedral one block away. They're storing guns in the basement, Grandma assured me, and I imagined that the windows in the dome were gunports through which "they" planned to fire on the rest of the city.
A recent cover of Time magazine asked: “Is America Islamophobic?” A Time survey discovered equivocal evidence on the question.
According to a Quinnipiac University poll, 54 percent of New York State voters agree "that because of American freedom of religion, Muslims have the right to build the mosque near Ground Zero." That strikes me as a shockingly small majority—almost half don’t feel that “religious freedom” by definition applies to all religions, even when the question’s put that way?—but hey, glad to hear of majority support for basic American principles, right?