PREJUDICE TOWARD MUSLIM AMERICANS AND AMERICAN PUBLIC OPINION
Kalkan, Kerem Ozan
Layman, Geoffrey C.
Uslaner, Eric M.
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This dissertation attempts to answer an important question: What explains prejudice toward Muslim Americans in contemporary American society? Through a new theoretical framework --- the ``Band of Others,'' --- I empirically show that attitudes toward Muslim Americans follow an ethnocentric pattern. Those who dislike other minorities such as blacks, Latinos, Asians, Jews, homosexuals, illegal immigrants, and people on welfare are prejudiced against Muslims as well. I find evidence that attitudes toward the Band of Others are highly stable and not radically altered by dramatic events. The ethnocentric structure that explains anti-Muslim prejudice was not affected by the September 11 terrorist attacks. I also find that the band of others plays a more important role in determining vote choice for hypothetical Muslim candidates than political orientations, authoritarian personality, and religious traditionalism. The subsequent empirical evidence also suggests that prejudice toward the band of others shaped the tendency to think Barack Obama is a Muslim -- a salient rumor during the 2008 presidential election. I also find evidence that suggests the misperception about Barack Obama's faith was electorally consequential. This research also shows that the band of others is a powerful dynamic among Muslim Americans as well. As Muslim Americans grow less prejudice toward non-Muslims, homosexuals, and interfaith marriage, they are more likely to become integrated into American society. In the conclusion, I discussed the normative implications of the band of others for democracy in America.