The Washington Post published a piece by associate professor of history and religious studies Caleb Elfenbein titled “More Americans have a positive view of Muslims today than two years ago. So why are anti-Muslim hate crimes on the rise?” in its Made by History blog.

An excerpt:

A recent poll by the Arab American Institute suggests that more Americans now have positive views of Muslims than they did just two years ago.

This new poll would appear to be reason for optimism. If views of Muslims are improving, a reduction in hate crimes should be just around the corner, right?

Not necessarily.

In fact, viewing hate crimes statistics in light of improving perceptions of Muslims may obscure a deeper, more troubling reality of anti-Muslim hostility. By seeing hate crimes as a reflection of, well, hatred, the broader public lets itself off the hook, blaming anti-Muslim activity, including but not limited to hate crimes, on a shrinking number of anti-Muslim bigots — a few bad apples emboldened perhaps by our president.

History offers a more sober view.