Date of Conferral
Public Policy and Administration
There is a lack of research on the relationship between dehumanization of minority religious groups and affiliation with terrorism, which suggests a need to consider the consequences of dehumanization perceptions beyond promoting aggression. This qualitative case study addresses whether dehumanization embedded in public policies influences Muslim Americans 18 to 25 years of age, native and nonnative, to engage in homegrown terrorism. Using Schneider and Ingram’s social constructions of target populations as the foundation, research questions focused on how perceptions of mechanistic dehumanization in policy design influence homegrown terrorism among Muslim- American adults. Data were acquired through archival data that included historical documents, artifacts, and recorded testimonies of U.S. senior policymakers and organizations. These data were inductively coded, and through thematic analysis, Muslim Americans’ opinions and experiences with mechanistic dehumanization in policy settings were examined. Key themes indicated that during the early stages of the War on Terror, Americans dehumanized U.S. Muslims, which corresponded to support for exclusionary policies. However, there were no indications of modification to target group political orientation. The implications for positive social change include recommendations to policy makers to reevaluate social and public policies for Muslim Americans, counterterrorism practitioners, and scholars to avoid unfocused and unjust policies that impose collateral damage against all Muslims and not the intended targets of international extremists.