Most Americans are probably unaware that Jews were the victims of more than eight times as many anti-religion hate crimes last year as were Muslims. And the reason is simple: anti-Muslim crimes receive far more media attention.
A series of anti-Semitic acts of vandalism aimed at various Jewish facilities on and near campus has caused Indiana University police to contact local FBI officials and members of the U.S. Department of Justice for help with their investigation.
On Monday, eight different Hebrew texts were taken from the shelves at Indiana University’s Wells Library and distributed to eight different men’s bathrooms, where they were thrown in toilets and urinated on, university officials confirmed. The defiled books were from the research collections section on the sixth and seventh floors of the library.
On Tuesday morning within an hour, two more rock throwing incidents at Jewish facilities were reported to police. At 7:50 a.m. Tuesday, someone threw a rock into the staff directory sign of the Jewish Studies Program in Goodbody Hall.
And earlier at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday, the Chabad House Jewish Student Center got hit with a rock for the second time in a week — this time, a rock was hurled through an upstairs apartment window and struck a wall, according to Chabad House Rabbi Yehoshua Chincholker.
"He meant to hit people, not only windows; this is my assumption," he said.
A woman was in the apartment when the rock was thrown, but was not injured, according to a news release from campus police.
"It seems to be escalating," said Jeffrey Veidlinger, IU’s director of Jewish studies. He said the recent acts of vandalism, especially the defiling of the Hebrew texts, are being used to intimidate and instill fear in the Jewish community. "People are worried. People are concerned."
Veidlinger said the books that were destroyed were all commentaries on the Talmud, the code of Jewish law, and are considered sacred.
"Anyone who knows anything about the defilement of books — that’s disturbing," he said.
And the media certainly know a thing or two about the defilement of books. They devoted quite a bit of coverage to a crazy pastor in Florida who had a plan to burn copies of the Koran on September 11. The plan absolutely dominated the news cycle for days.
And more than that, the media used the plan (which was not carried out) to hype a rise in "Islamophobia" in the United States. CNN.com characterized much of the media's attitude throughout the controversy when it claimed that in just a few weeks in August and September, "Muslims and mosques have been attacked, and Islamophobia has boiled up."
A writer at Salon.com channeled the attitude of many media liberals when he claimed that "the leaders of the right-wing’s anti-Muslim brigade" such as Sarah Palin and Sean Hannity "owe this man a fruit basket. He may not have sparked the recent explosion of Islamophobia, but he’s done as much as just about anyone to drag it into the mainstream."
Time's Bobby Ghosh echoed this sentiment, claiming that "there is a lot of Islamophobia about in this country, and it's growing and becoming more vicious, and, with this latest mosque controversies- not one, but several controversies around the country- it's coming into the mainstream, and that is reason for alarm."
A few Muslims and mosques were of course attacked. But if the media is so concerned about religious phobias - irrational fear towards certain religions - as evinced by anti-religious "hate crimes," where is its concern for the tide of anti-Semitism sweeping the nation (as it must be, by the media standard established during the Koran-burning controversy)?
Of course a few incidents of anti-Jewish or anti-Muslim hatred are not indicative of a national mood or trend. The United States is not dominated by anti-Semitism because a few despicable people decide to desecrate holy Jewish texts, just as the country is not being overrun by Islamophobia because a crazy pastor burns some Korans or some thug throws a brick through a mosque window.
But it would be nice to see some consistency. If America is Islamophobic because numerous hate crimes are committed against Muslims each year, then certainly it must also be anti-Semitic, given the vastly greater number of hate crimes crimes committed against Jews.
We know, of course, that the vast majority of the American people are neither Islamophobic, nor anti-Semitic, and that irrational religious hatreds are not part of the "mainstream." Now if someone would only inform the nation's talking heads.