“Unworthy Victims and Threatening Adversaries: Islam, Muslims, and United States Foreign Policy.”

Co-author: Evan W. Sandlin

Status: Revising in preparation for peer review submission

Abstract: Since the Iranian Revolution of 1979, and especially since the events of September 11th, 2001, the specter of Islam has been more salient in the American mind than ever before. The pervasive discourse surrounding Islam is likely to influence the beliefs and behavior of Americans. In fact, Muslims are consistently shown to be one of the least trusted groups in the United States. Yet, because of the perceived “foreignness” of Islam, and because perceived threats to the United States are often characterized as emanating from within and without, the consequences of this discourse may affect how Americans wish to act in the international arena. Given the extent to which Islam is perceived to be in antagonism with the United States, do Americans favor different foreign policy choices when interacting with Muslim-majority nations or Muslim communities? We test for this possibility using two experiments that test if respondents are more “hawkish” in the face of a possible threat from a Muslim country and if respondents are less “hawkish” in favor of helping a persecuted Muslim minority.

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