Cheap Seats 2016
Reality Check - Part 2
By Rich Trzupek
So, what does the non-Muslim part of the western world see when they look at their Muslim brothers and sisters? Many, like our President see – or desperately want to see – a basically benign religion whose followers are the same mix of good and bad; hard-working and lazy; temperamental and easy-going; etc. as the rest of the world. Then you have a few, very few it is said, that claim to be followers of Islam, but are actually nut-cases using religion to justify their un-religious behavior.
At the other end of the spectrum, you have some who lump all Muslims together as deluded, hateful people to be despised and/or feared in each case. I believe that in America at least that group of bigots is pretty small and certainly far, far smaller than President Obama and his supporters believe.
Neither of the above views is correct because, just as you can’t paint all Muslim-majority nations with the same broad brush, you can’t neatly divide Muslim attitudes into one or two neat little piles. The answer is nuanced and, unfortunately, America and Americans don’t often do nuance well. But this issue is important, to everyone, including millions of peaceful Muslims living around the world, so it’s high time everyone – especially our political leaders – started doing their homework.
Let’s start with the Pew Research Center (hardly a conservative organization) which did a poll of Muslim Americans in 2007 and released a report entitled “Muslims in America: Middle Class and Mostly Mainstream.” Liberals used this report to demonstrate how the vast majority of American Muslims reject radical Islam, which is true, but is beside the point. The real question is: how large is the minority that does not?
According to Pew there were 2.35 million Muslims living in America at the time (not the 5 to 6 million that the Council on American Islamic Relations claimed, a number duly parroted by then Presidential candidate Barack Obama). Of these, 1.4 million were over the age of 18 at the time of the poll and it was from that pool of adults that Pew developed its data.
Of these, eight percent of respondents answered “often/sometimes” to the following question: can suicide bombing of civilian targets to defend Islam be justified? That’s 112,000 Muslims living in America who believe that blowing themselves and innocent people up is defensible.
The percentage of Muslims between the ages of 18 and 29 – the target demographic for ISIS recruiting – who answered “often/sometimes” to the above question was 15 percent, which is about 63,000 people.
Five percent of Muslims in America, that’s about 70,000 people, admitted to having a favorable view of Al Qaeda, and seven percent of Muslims between the ages of 18 and 29 living in America, about 30,000 had a favorable view of Al Qaeda.
Now let me just point out that if America’s largest neo-Nazi (NSM) party, the National Socialist Movement, had 70,000 members who openly professed their admiration for Hitler, and/or 112,000 members who believe that the use of violence is justified to achieve their goals, we would – understandably – be freaking out. (NSM has about 400 members, if you’re wondering).
That’s America, how about Muslims living in Muslim-majority nations? How do they feel about their religion? Let’s start with Sharia Law.
To the west there are parts of Sharia Law that seem barbaric, like stoning for adultery, or death for leaving Islam. Many Americans either: 1) refuse to believe that Sharia Law is all that bad, or 2) shrug it off with a “it’s none of our business”.
Now I agree that how Muslim-majority countries choose to govern themselves is none of our official business, but you would think – for example – that some of the women’s advocacy groups who throw a fit if a state makes is slightly more difficult for a woman to murder her unborn child don’t seem interested in the plight of Muslim women who are forced to undergo female genital mutilation, or who are stoned to death because they were caught with a lover.
It also matters because while those Muslims who think that using violence to put the world under Sharia Law is justified is a minority (albeit it’s doesn’t take much of a minority to get to a few million when you start out at over a billion), but the number of Muslims who think Sharia Law should be the law of land everywhere on planet earth is a majority.
Another Pew study dealt with the issue of Sharia Law and the results were quite interesting, but you’ll have to wait till next week and Part 3.