Academic journal article High School Journal

Letter from the Editorial Board

Academic journal article High School Journal

Letter from the Editorial Board

Article excerpt

In a recent Newsweek article, Denis Mac Shane brought national attention to "Islamophobia," a term that has been used for the past two decades to describe an irrational fear of Islam that results in discriminatory practices towards those perceived to be Muslim. As William Dalrymple explained in a follow-up in the The New York Times, this renewal of those fears stems from the American tendency to see the Islamic world as a "single, terrifying monolith"--prejudicial perceptions that continue to result in the marginalization of Muslims from the social, political, and public life of the nation and our schools.

While this journal is uncomfortable with the term "Islamophobia" for its etymological generalizations, we, like others, feel that Newsweek's widespread publication of the term offers scholars an opportunity to raise questions about the current culture of fear directed towards Muslims in America. More specifically, we think that it is important to explore how fears targeted at Muslim students are surfacing in schools--particularly secondary schools--and how this problem might be addressed in and through curriculum and pedagogy.

Three weeks before this letter was written, four high school students in Staten Island, New York, were arrested for charges of hate crimes directed towards a Muslim classmate. Specific details of the case have not been released, but authorities have stated that the incident in question, which occurred several months earlier, involved physical and verbal assaults that included repeated attacks to the victim's groin and accusations of being a "terrorist." The boy did not inform school officials or family about the events during the school year, hoping the assaults would end when the school year was over. During the summer, when the victim learned that two of the alleged tormentors were going to be in his high school class, he informed his family.

We know this event is not an anomaly. …

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