[4/15/19] – #IStandWithIlhan

Ilhan Omar won a seat in the Minnesota House of Representatives last year, making her one of two Muslim women elected to office in 2018. Last week, Rep. Omar was blasted by members of the GOP and her own party for comments made at a recent CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations) conference. In sum, she argued that it is unfair that an entire group of people (Muslims) are being racialized and oppressed due to the misguided actions of a few members. President Trump released a Tweet showcasing a video of Rep. Omar’s speech—specifically where she said “some people did something”—inter-spliced with images from the 9/11 attacks. Some are calling it an incitement to violence against Rep. Omar; in fact, she has received death threats in the aftermath of the video’s release. This is not the first time Rep. Omar has been targeted by President Trump. In February, she suggested that much of the funding for the Israeli government from the United States comes from a lobbyist group, AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee); her comments were labeled anti-Semitic.

Instructors, click on the link below to download this week’s lecture for use in your classroom. The deck contains a writing prompt, a debate question, as well as other assessment questions.

Download the PowerPoint Lecture Spark for #IStandWithIlhan

Learning Objectives

LO1: Discuss the social construction of racialization and oppression of specific groups of people.

LO2: Apply multiple sociological theories to understand and explain Islamophobia and xenophobia.

LO3: Explain how the social forces of race, religion, and gender operate to influence the outcomes of this issue.






  1. Why are hate crimes against Muslims living in the United States on the rise? What social factors are contributing to the perpetuation of hate and fear surrounding this group? Is it possible that Muslim people living in the United States might know an existence without prejudice and/or discrimination? Why or why not?
  2. What is the role of ethnocentrism in fueling anti-Muslim rhetoric against Rep. Omar? How might these views of people from different cultures and religions catalyze individuals to actualize death threats against other human beings? How might adopting a culturally relative approach to viewing Muslim-American relations in the United States effect the spread of hate against Muslim populations?
  3. Who are the powerful forces seeking to limit access of Muslims to scarce resources in the United States? What might be motivating these forces to limit this access? What needs to be done to create more equity for all people living in the United States, and reduce fear of one another? Use a Conflict approach when preparing your response.
  4. How has the symbol of being a Muslim living in the U.S. changed since 9/11? How is this symbol projected through agents of socialization in an attempt to maintain a prevailing hegemonic narrative that Muslim people are terrorists? Why might this reality be important to powerful figures in American industry and politics? What is the role of Rep. Omar’s gender and race in the outcomes of this narrative? Use a Symbolic-Interactionist approach when preparing your response.
  5. What forms of collective action are necessary to bring an end to Islamaphobia and xenophobia? What groups should be most responsible for leading the charge? Why might some members of Rep. Omar’s own political party be reluctant to show full support for their colleague?

Current Events Quiz

_______ is the process by which a previously uncategorized group acquires the label of a race, more than often a pan-ethnic term used to include a number of individuals who share a set of common characteristics.

  1. Racialization
  2. Exploitation
  3. Stigmatization
  4. Ostracization

A sociologist using a _______ approach to investigate this issue would likely focus on the way society shifts and molds social institutions in an effort to maintain social order.

  1. Functionalist
  2. Symbolic-Interactionist
  3. Conflict
  4. Rational-Choice

A _______ theorist would be most interested in investigating the costs and benefits weighed by Patrick Carlineo when he decided to pick up the phone to make a death threat against Rep. Omar.

  1. Functionalist
  2. Symbolic-Interactionist
  3. Conflict
  4. Rational-Choice


Photo by Lorie Shaull.

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