The Muslim-American Muddle: Where Do Muslims Fit in American Society?

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Post-Event Summary
In his National Affairs article "The Muslim-American Muddle," Peter Skerry argued that since 9/11, "America has reached a political and intellectual stalemate regarding the Muslims in its midst," and that both elites and the general public misunderstand, for better or worse, the challenges Islam poses to America. At an event on Wednesday sponsored by the AEI Program on American Citizenship, leading experts on Islam in America came together to discuss the article and the role of Muslims in America. Skerry (Boston College and Brookings Institution) contended that if Muslim Americans are to dispel concerns about where their loyalties lie, their leadership (such as organizations like the Council on American-Islamic Relations) must acknowledge past Islamist ties and their accompanying "baggage." Andrew C. McCarthy (National Review Institute) argued that Skerry underestimated the influence of radical Islamist ideology, while Justin Vaïsse (Brookings Institution) questioned Skerry's focus on Muslim American organizations rather than isolated, homegrown Muslim jihadists (like Nidal Hasan of the Fort Hood shooting). Hillel Fradkin (Hudson Institute) discussed how past immigrants had assimilated into American society and the important role that public schools once played in this process. Muslim American author Souheil Ghannouchi said the burden was on the Muslim American community to move beyond accusations of Islamophobia and actively engage as American citizens.

--Barrett Bowdre

Event Description
“A decade after 9/11, America has reached a political and intellectual stalemate regarding the Muslims in its midst,” writes Peter Skerry in his timely essay in National Affairs, “The Muslim-American muddle.” According to Skerry, complacent elites and alarmist populists alike misunderstand the real challenges Islam poses to America, while Muslims themselves are conflicted about their role in American society. At an event sponsored by AEI’s Program on American Citizenship, a panel of leading experts on Islam in America will discuss Skerry’s essay and the critical issues to consider as Muslims in the US assume their responsibilities as American citizens.

 

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