Paul Krugman Again Downplays Post-9/11 Hate Experienced by Muslims

After Widespread Criticism of His Dismissive 9/11 Tweets, Krugman Digs in

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Sunday, Paul Krugman responded to his widely criticized tweets claiming that “there wasn’t a mass outbreak of anti-Muslim sentiment and violence” after 9/11. In his response, Krugman posted a chart comparing FBI hate crime data of anti-Black, anti-LGBTQ and anti-Muslim hate crimes for 2000, 2001 and 2002 to bolster his original claim that there was no significant rise in anti-Muslim hate after 9/11. Krugman also said that the hate experienced by Muslims “didn’t loom that large compared with what Blacks face year in and year out.” The following is a statement from Muslim Advocates Public Advocacy Director Scott Simpson:

“Paul Krugman is yet again erasing the experiences of Muslims after 9/11. Instead of listening to the many American Muslims who shared their own traumatic, personal experiences and expertise, he doubled down behind a misleading chart that fails to even scratch the surface of the kinds of hate and discrimination that Muslims experienced and still experience today as a result of 9/11. He could have just apologized, but instead he went to great effort to justify his prior statements.

As an economist, Krugman knows how numbers can be selectively used to distort reality. The chart that he shared severely undercounts post-9/11 anti-Muslim hate crimes as it only includes ones reported voluntarily by law enforcement. In fact, many cities reported no hate crimes at all and we know that’s not possible. Muslims are often targeted and mistreated by law enforcement and the government, so many of them did not report any hate crimes out of fear of retribution. 

His chart also fails to include other forms of hate and discrimination experienced by Muslims after 9/11 like bullying, workplace discrimination, discrimination in schools and other forms of state-sanctioned discrimination. After 9/11, for example, the FBI and NYPD spied on Muslims in their places of worship and businesses, and the NYPD even sent undercover agents to mosques and on school field trips. None of that is factored into Krugman’s presented concept of the Muslim experience after 9/11.

Further, it’s particularly misleading  for him to deflect valid criticism by attempting to pit Black and Muslim communities against one another. Muslims are a much smaller proportion of the U.S. population than Black people so a direct comparison of the two groups, as Krugman makes, fails to capture how significantly Muslims were targeted by hate crimes. But this isn’t a competition. The experience of one community should not be used to dismiss the experience of another. Additionally, Black Muslims must endure both anti-Black and anti-Muslim violence. 

Paul Krugman is one of the most prominent liberal pundits in the country but he seems to have little interest in learning about the experiences of Muslims over the past 20 years. America’s shifting perception of Muslims after 9/11 is one of the most important developments in our country’s modern history. For the past 20 years, it has profoundly shaped electoral politics, law enforcement and our government’s domestic and foreign policies. This is something that Muslims are reminded of each and every day and it is deeply disturbing that Krugman either does not know or care about that.”

Muslim Advocates is a national civil rights organization working in the courts, in the halls of power and in communities to halt bigotry in its tracks. We ensure that American Muslims have a seat at the table with expert representation so that all Americans may live free from hate and discrimination.