Blogging in the Huffington Post, James Zogby, President of the Arab American Institute, Author of "Arab Voices", attempts to explain the mixed feelings towards Muslims in America today.  He found that political affiliation is a determinant of the sentiments towards or against Muslims. 

He  says "The partisan divide on issues related to Arabs and Muslims has become disturbingly wide. For example, when, in a recent poll, we asked American voters whether they had favorable or unfavorable attitudes toward Arabs and Muslims, the results were shocking.  Attitudes towards Arabs: Democrats -- 57% favorable, 30% unfavorable; Republicans -- 28% favorable, 66% unfavorable.  Attitudes towards Muslims: Democrats -- 54% favorable, 34% unfavorable; Republicans -- 12% favorable, 85% unfavorable."

Zogby asks "What has happened to the "Grand Old Party" of George H.W. Bush and James Baker?"

He answers that "For one, the GOP has become captive of several groups that now dominate the party's base and have transformed its thinking. The "religious right" and its "end of days" preachers like Pat Robertson, William Hagee and Gary Bauer, presently constitute almost 40% of Republican voters. This group's emphasis on the divinely ordained battle between the forces of "good" (i.e. the Christian West and Israel) and the forces of "evil" (Islam and the Arabs) has logically given rise to anti-Muslim prejudice.

Then there are the Christian right's ideological cousins, the neo-conservatives, who share an identical Manichaean and apocalyptic world view, though with a secular twist. And into the mix must be thrown Islamophobic right-wing radio and TV commentators like O'Reilly, Beck, Limbaugh, Savage and company, who daily spew their poison across the airwaves.

The combination produces a lethal brew that is dangerous not only for the intolerance it has created, but the sense of certitude and self-righteousness it projects. This too comes through in our polling. When we ask Americans, in separate questions, whether they "know enough about Islam and Muslims (or Arab countries and people) or need to know more", among Democrats, 68% say they would "like to know more" about Islam, with 80% wanting "to know more" about the Arab World. In answer to the same questions, 71% and 58% of Republicans say they "know enough" and "don't want to learn more"."

Mr. Zogby concludes by saying that "Whether simply exploiting insecurity and fear of Arabs and Muslims in a crude effort to win votes -- tactics that worked so well for Republicans in the post-9/11 environment, or mixing these national security concerns with good old fashioned xenophobia, with a touch of Islamophobia, to infuse their supporters with intensity -- it's a dangerous game with worrisome consequences. And with the GOP poised to wield even greater influence after this election, I believe that those who place value in the need to promote greater understanding have every reason to be concerned."

You can read the full blog here: James Zogby: GOP and the Deepening Divide.

Then there is the irony of it all at the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear, held in Washington DC, on Saturday October 30th.  Seems as the sign said, 

As Oliver Duggan describes "The atmosphere was equally jovial, and even dressing up as redcoats with a friend wasn’t enough to evoke a negative response from the hundreds who stopped us just to say ‘better luck next time’ or take a quick photo. In many ways the whole event felt more like a music festival than a political rally.

That said, for 12 minutes and 56 seconds the crowd put down their witty signs, stopped laughing and fell silent for Stewart’s closing remarks. His comments were brilliantly blunt and shined a much-needed spot light on the catastrophic impact the media is having on the political process.

I urge you to watch it."