Last December, Fox News once again sounded its war horns over the Park51 Islamic community center in Manhattan. "It's all pray and no play," warned host Gretchen Carlson. Donald Trump said, "You know, in the Arab world, when they have victory, they like to build a Mosque at that site."
It seems as though the New York Police Department agrees with them. Recent revelations show that the NYPD is labeling mosques as terrorist enterprises. This is a shameful practice, and epitomizes how racism and discrimination still exist in some crucial American institutions.
This news come amidst increasing outcry against its ever-controversial stop-and-frisk scheme, which was ruled unconstitutional on grounds of racial profiling. Although the former presents an issue of religious discrimination and the latter is centered on ethnicity, these "terrorism enterprise investigations" into mosques are not different from the racially charged stop-and-frisk practice.
It's no secret that the American psyche struggles heavily with reconciling collective minority identities. The most recent findings from a national survey conducted by the Pew Research Center reveal that 39% of the respondents said gays and lesbians faced "a lot" of discrimination; 25% said the same of Hispanic Americans, and 22% for African Americans.
In the same study, nearly half of those surveyed said that Muslim Americans face a lot of discrimination. And yet, 42% say that the Islamic religion is more likely than others to encourage violence.
What is going on here? Are people becoming increasingly complacent in their prejudices? This complacency could lead to broad abuses of power by authority figures. Though there are no wide-ranging figures on the ethnic breakdown behind stop-and-frisk, that Black and Latino New Yorkers make up 79% of the stops despite comprising only 24% of the population in one Brooklyn neighborhood. This suggests the levels of perceived racial discrimination should be much higher. The NYPD has been authorized to keep imams under surveillance without much evidence, which also hints at much deeper levels of Islamophobia.
Fifty years ago, Martin Luther King Jr. told of a dream and refused to believe in the emptying of the bank of justice. The approach that New York's police force has taken against the city's own denizens, whether it is discrimination based on creed or race, is a mockery of that belief.