Much has been written about an "unprecedented wave of Islamophobia" currently sweeping the United States. This "groundswell of hatred" has confused many, with some wondering how a nation such as the United States — which enshrines religious freedom for citizens enshrined in the First Amendment to the Constitution — could ever create an environment that openly oppresses a single faith group. But if history tells us anything, it’s that religious bigotry isn’t just common in the United States, it’s as American as apple pie. In fact, laudable ideals of religious freedom notwithstanding, our country has actively demeaned, belittled, and persecuted minority faith groups since the colonial era.
With this in mind, there is one particularly unusual historical example that helps make sense of today’s barrage of "Islamophobia": when American writers, politicians, and even scientists argued that Mormons — yes, Mormons — weren’t white.