In the 2000 election, approximately 70% of Muslims in America voted for Bush; among non-African-American Muslims, the ratio was over 80%.
Four years later, Bush’s share of the vote among Muslims was 4%.
What happened? Well, a lot.
Individually, each of these incidents was upsetting but tolerable. But they were part of a pattern; while officially the Bush Administration was careful to say that the American Muslim community was not under suspicion, their actions spoke otherwise. Most egregious was the way the government handled the case of the Holy Land Foundation.
The Holy Land Foundation was a charity founded in the late 1980s, ostensibly to provide humanitarian relief to the people of the Palestinian territories. In December, 2001, the federal government formally accused the Foundation of siphoning some of their funds to support Hamas, which had been designated a terrorist group by the United States in 1993. While some thought this was a witch hunt against a pro-Palestinian organization, most Muslims – myself included – were mortified that a respected charity had deceived the American Muslim community as to where their donations were going. The case finally proceeded to trial in 2007, and every count against the Foundation ended in either acquittal or a mistrial, in what the New York Times called “a stunning setback for the government.” Undaunted, the Feds pursued a retrial the following year and obtained convictions on many counts.
But it’s not the way the Bush administration handled the Holy Land Foundation that rankled the Muslim community. It’s the way they smeared virtually every Muslim organization in America in the process. As part of the indictment against the Holy Land Foundation, the government submitted a list of “unindicted co-conspirators”. This was a list of individuals and organizations who the government had not a shred of evidence implicating them in supporting terrorism, but decided to smear them with the accusation anyway.
It’s hard to overstate just how distraught and disappointed this made the Muslim community. The list of “unindicted co-conspirators” ran over 300 members long, and included the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the largest umbrella organization of Muslims in America; the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the premier civil-rights organization working for Muslims; and the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT), which as holder of the deed of hundreds of mosques, is the largest Muslim endowment in America. Basically, if you were a Muslim organization and weren’t on the list, you probably weren’t that important.
Read the whole etc.