American culture has a strong influence on foreign cultures. Nevertheless, culture spreads through many channels and does not always bring truth. Indeed, it almost never does. In my childhood, my first encounter with American culture was reading comic books translated from English. The hero was an “American ranger” against “bloody red-skins.” Turkish translators named indigenous people, Native Americans, “red skins.” The comic books described them as killing innocent settlers, setting fires, destroying the environment, and peeling the skin off the skulls of their victims. “Heroic” American rangers were fighting against American Indians and the colonial British army, called “red jackets.” The stories always ended with glorious victory for the American rangers. Many Turkish children grew up reading these politically incorrect comic books, learning American history from the settlers’ perspective. Schools banned these books, but this made them even more desirable. In the 1980s, TV dominated our popular culture, and American TV series became our firsthand source to learn about the most powerful country in the world. We learned the history of slavery watching Roots and contemporary Texas culture watching Dallas.
Many years later, when I arrived in the United States as a Fulbright scholar, I had the opportunity to learn more about the American legal system and the legendary Supreme Court of the United States. My first encounter was the vicious debate during the nomination process for a Supreme Court Justice: Clarence Thomas’s hearing in the United States Senate and Anita Hill’s testimony against him. It was a fascinating learning experience, showing how the democratic system worked in the United States in such a transparent way. Questioning the Supreme Court candidates, let alone broadcasting it live on TV, was unimaginable in my country. No one was above the law in this country, even those nominated to the Supreme Court! Of course, I did not appreciate at the time the underlying racial tone, the importance of Justice Thomas’s appointment to the Supreme Court, and his decidedly controversial reputation in the African American community. I did not understand any of the competing and contrasting interests shaping the whole debate. I just admired the fact that people seemed to take sexual harassment seriously and that the United States protected women’s rights in such a vigorous way. It was a fascinating and impressive first encounter. In retrospect, I figured out that half of the importance of such a case, the politics of race, had not registered in my mind. I learned the side of the case that had been invisible for outsiders many years later when I read Toni Morrison’s book on this famous trial. 
My first personal experience with race consciousness was in 1993 when my 13-year-old daughter started the 9th grade at a local public high school in Ann Arbor. I received a warning from her German language teacher that she was spending time with African American students, which she described as a “potentially dangerous group.” She said I should be careful about my daughter’s friends. However, I learned from my daughter that they were the only kids in school friendly with her even though some of the African American kids questioned her presence in the group as she was a “white girl.” Soon someone explained that “she is not white, she is a Muslim!” This was the first knowledge I received that being white or black is much more than one’s skin color! Muslims were considered non-white in this country, yet not exactly black, either. We entered our new lives with this new identity.
The same year, another important event filled TV screens: the hot pursuit of O.J. Simpson. Police chased his white SUV and the whole country watched this drama unfold. The trial of O.J. Simpson was even more odd and confusing to me as a foreign lawyer. I had no deep knowledge of the workings of the U.S. criminal justice system in the real world, not in law books or Hollywood movies. Race politics had high-jacked the criminal justice system. People took sides. O.J. Simpson’s guilt or innocence could not be separated from his racial identity. I was also very surprised that while society and the justice system were so preoccupied with race, law school curriculum seemed to deal with race from the perspective of “color blindness,” instead of critically evaluated one of the most important issues in American society. Racial discrimination was a “white elephant” in law school classrooms. After many years, I learned that the Michigan Law School was one of the important venues in a famous Supreme Court decision on affirmative action. 
The new era of awakening arrived in 1995, when Timothy McVeigh exploded a public building killing hundreds of innocent people in Oklahoma City. I was at the airport, returning from an American Society of International Law meeting in New York on my way to Malta. They kept me at the airport the whole day without any explanation, and then sent me home on another flight. I figured that by carrying a Turkish passport I became an instant suspect in terror cases. On the morning of 9/11, as I watched the horror on TV, I hoped that the names of terrorists were not similar to mine! Unfortunately they were. Since then, my travel experiences have been difficult and humiliating. Visa applications to Europe were nightmarish, if not humiliating. They involved long investigations, background checks, visa officers accusing me of fabricating my documents. Flying back and forth was a stigmatizing experience as I was “randomly” searched because of my Turkish passport. Sometimes, they stamped my boarding card with a red sign, which meant that they searched me again and again each time I changed planes, until I reached my final destination. After 9/11, every time I returned to the United States immigration officers interviewed me in a back room, sometimes for hours, after long trips from Europe. They asked what is wrong with me that I am still a Turkish citizen, despite my green card, my profession, and my American husband. I should be an American citizen. I became an American citizen!
My personal experience in the United States helped me gradually understand the deep and complex relationship between racial politics, various forms of discrimination, the very important role of the legal system, and the complex relationship between race and law from the perspective of critical race theory. Law can be read, interpreted, and implemented from various angles depending on who reads or interprets it and, more importantly, who is the subject of a particular law. Looking from a critical race theory perspective, I learned that court decisions are not dead materials. Their lifetime is much longer than their historical moment of decision. They can be interpreted, reused, and abused depending on what current motives prevail. Law also could be used as a political tool to protect the interests of the dominant class by empowering them, while subordinating certain groups to keep them under control. Domination and subordination constitute an economic and political project. In this process, law is a useful tool of dominant ideology in any given society. According to scholar Carol Greenhouse, “courts, as well as law itself are places where ideologies are formed and articulated.”  “Culture and ideology interact with politics and law.”  Considering the versatile use of the legal system, I will approach the theme of this Article claiming that the term “Islam” historically has been used as a common denominator to establish a category, constructing “others” by reference to a dominant white, Anglo-Saxon, protestant American culture and ideology. The legal system articulates, permits, and allows this construction implicitly or explicitly, using as a strong justification its sense of the foreign culture of Muslims as sometimes “uncivilized.” This background prepared the post 9/11 political environment by using the state’s responsibility to protect American citizens from “terrorism.” I will argue that, contrary to general understanding, Muslims were subject to discriminatory behavior before the 2001 terrorist attack. This discrimination goes back to the historical period of immigration and citizenship discourse. Over the years, various national and international policies and events paved the way for post-9/11 discrimination and anti-Muslim behavior on social, political, and legal fronts. As a result, Islamophobia quickly came to the surface.
This Article will situate pre-9/11 era American Muslims in relation to various stages of immigration policies and the difficulties of Muslims and Middle Easterners faced in the process of obtaining U.S. citizenship as compared to immigrants of other European origins. Discrimination against Islam as a minority religion in white, Christian America, the international political events, and American foreign policy toward Muslim countries are major reasons for pre-9/11 resentment against Muslims and Middle Easterners in the United States. The role of the African American Muslims, and the rather difficult relationship between them and immigrant Muslims further complicates today’s conditions. The second part of the Article will focus on legal constraints and post-9/11 civil rights abuses that were imposed upon the Muslim population and which resulted in the creation of a new type of racial category that would help to entrench such discriminatory attitudes. The third part will examine the most recent events to evaluate how likely it is that American liberal secularism will embrace Islam and its symbols in public spaces. Ten years after 9/11, the recent controversy over building an Islamic Center in NYC and the ongoing global debate about Islamophobia will be discussed in this part. The Article also will emphasize the construction of public opinion that gives permission for such injustices to take place, leading to large-scale discrimination in the course of the “War on Terror,” which has no time constraints or geographical limits. War, terrorism, and fear are used as a national security blanket to cover pure racial politics, making discrimination against Muslim U.S. citizens acceptable even in mainstream society.
The thesis of “Racializing Islam” from the critical race theory perspective will help to raise questions such as: how did historical, legal, ideological, cultural, and geopolitical conditions help to frame the inquiry?; does Islamophobia help to racialize Muslims so that even the mainstream American public is comfortable with it?; does Islamophobia help to dominate and subordinate Muslims in this country and facilitate an ambitious foreign policy that enables a new type of colonialism and imperialism here and abroad?; what is the relationship between the United States and rest of the West in terms of Islamophobia?; is it possible to create a racial category that does not fit the traditional concept of race based on ethnicity or religion?; and is racism just another way of dealing with minorities based on subordination and re-colonization? The conclusion suggests that racial categorization is not just a policy based on pure racism, but that it also incorporates various hidden ideological, economic, and geopolitical ambitions that help to dominate “others.” In this context, Muslims are not the first examples of such racialization. Historically, this kind of discrimination happened to Jewish and Irish immigrants, as well as Japanese-Americans during World War II.
 Toni Morrison, Race-ing justice, en-gendering power: Essays on Anita Hill, Clarence Thomas, and the construction of social reality (1992).
 Grutter v. Bollinger, 539 U.S. 306 (2003)
 Kathleen M. Moore, Al-Mughtaribun: American law and the transformation of Muslim life in the United States 145 n. 30 (1995) (citing Carol Greenhouse, Courting differences: Issues of interpretation and comparison in the study of legal ideologies, 22 Law & Soc’y Rev. 687, 688 (1998)).
 at 6.