"Terrorist Threat," Punitive Public Policy, and the Intersectionality of Racial and Religious Prejudice
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Following the events of September 11, 2001, the concept of “terrorist threat” intensified and the demand for public policy protecting American citizens from subsequent attacks accompanied more overt prejudicial attitudes and discrimination towards Muslim Americans and/or those of Middle Eastern descent. The intersectionality of race and religion is especially prevalent and dangerous, since individuals are clustered together based on demographic characteristics associated with terrorist groups, regardless of obvious differences in religious ideology or race/ethnicity. This study examines stereotypes and perceived threat for three groups: Muslim Americans, Arab immigrants, and Middle Eastern refugees. After administering a survey and analyzing the data of over 1,400 Amazon Mechanical Turk respondents, I find that all three groups are viewed as equivalent in stereotyping and level of perceived threat. Furthermore, such perceived threat results in the support for punitive public policies targeting all three groups, regardless of differences in race/ethnicity and religion.