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For this Friday Follow-up, I bring you the following statistic, based on the most recently compiled FBI data:

Anti-Muslim hate crimes increased 50% in 2010 over 2009 levels.

That was the year anti-Islamic rhetoric jumped from the fringe, flooded through the blogosphere, and flew through Facebook.  I’ve written about this concern.  I’ve been ridiculed for being “politically correct”, something I abhor even more now that it’s used as a label to hide behind for people’s own prejudices.  Basically, I was told time and again that Islamophobia simply did not exist or was vastly exaggerated.  And at one time, that would have been true.

By percent, crimes against Muslims for being Muslims is still small compared to many other hate crimes.  And at the time, any incidents were anecdotal at best.  During that time to this day I’ve been derided for making a mountain out of Islamophobia while ignoring the statistically larger molehill of anti-Semetism.  (Oddly, this is the only comparison I ever seen made, as no one mentions even larger hate crime numbers against other groups.)  But no one, especially myself, was denying other issues, and it is a sad diversion on the part of those using one injustice to minimize another.  I fight prejudices where I see them, and am not prejudiced to protect any group more than another because it’s more or less significant according to statistics. 

But the numbers are now in, and not only events, but media coverage and social media propagation now have some known proven effect on actions against this particular group.  People like [[Pamela Geller]] aren’t harmless bigot bloggers.  Politicians like [[Geert Wilders]] aren’t just fringe neo-fascists keeping their propaganda across the pond.  And the more subtle messages of long-standing propagandists like [[David Horowicz]] are multiplied by the mix, infecting us all.

I don’t blame the news media.  Sure, they blundered by positing Geller and others as experts when they clearly were not.  But the fact is that almost all “news” we get today is word of mouth — or keyboard rather.  Thanks to social media, everyone can rattle off and share extremist views and basement-made videos as news or even education on a subject.  And we did.  People like you and me have to take some responsibility for parroting things we clearly are ignorant of.  Bad thinking and false information is our own downfall, but spreading it wit the click of a mouse to everyone you know (and don’t know) has much greater consequences.

And we have to accept responsibility for that, though most of us probably won’t.