Academic journal article Journal of Ecumenical Studies

Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad, Becoming American? the Forging of Arab and Muslim Identity in Pluralist America

Academic journal article Journal of Ecumenical Studies

Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad, Becoming American? the Forging of Arab and Muslim Identity in Pluralist America

Article excerpt

Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad, Becoming American? The Forging of Arab and Muslim Identity in Pluralist America. Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2011. Pp. 124. $19.95.

The question of Arab-Muslim American identity has been a hot-button issue for nearly half a century'. After reading the book under review, it is clear that the identity of Arabs and Muslims in the United States is ambivalent at best. While the immigrant Muslims of the 1870's largely struggled with their middle-class American identity, those who migrated in the post-1960's defined their American identity in what Haddad describes as a politically hostile environment (p. 96). She states that there is a tendency in America that portrays Arabs and Muslims as "the other," a terrorist and the enemy of Western values. In such forms of "political racism" there is an inevitable exclusion of these groups from public information and policy. As these communities are brought under scrutiny for their ethnic and religious affiliation, there is little room left for public action. Without being too explicit, Haddad pointedly asks a daring question: Can Arabs and Muslims successfully become American?

She opens the book with the events of September 11, 2001, to frame the larger scope of her research of Arab and Muslim identity in America. In a concise yet thorough approach. Haddad impartially surveys the history of both Arab and Muslim identities in the U.S. during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Since the 1870's, immigrants from Arab- speaking countries have migrated to the U.S. and struggled in becoming American. In the post-World War II period, the U.S. intentionally reconstructed itself as a pluralistic society. Inconsistently, immigrants from the Arab- and Muslim-dominated countries at this time found themselves publicly and purposefully barred from the mainstream politics of America, due to international politics and the change in national policy largely surrounding immigration in the U. …

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