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Terrified: How Anti-Muslim Fringe Organizations Became Mainstream, Christopher Bail

Reviewed by Todd Green



The study of anti-Muslim sentiment in the United States is a burgeoning enterprise, with scholars increasingly devoting attention to the strategies that anti-Muslim individuals and organizations employ to generate anxiety and hostility toward Muslims. The most notable studies to date include the Center for American Progress’s Fear, Inc.: The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America and Nathan Lean’s The Islamophobia Industry: How the Right Manufactures Fear of Muslims.

Christopher Bail’s new book, Terrified: How Anti-Muslim Fringe Organizations Became Mainstream, is similar to these other studies in terms of the people and organizations it analyzes. Where it differs is its focus on the complex cultural and psychological forces that enabled anti-Muslim organizations to transition from the fringe to the mainstream in the decade after the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks.

Bail wrestles with the overarching question of how civil society organizations shape shared understandings of important political or social issues. In the case of Islam in post–September 11 America, did anti-Muslim organizations acquire influence over shared understandings of Islam by tapping into existing misgivings or anxieties? Or did these organizations first find their way into the mainstream and from that position of p

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