In the Name of God, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful
Most of the news reports were positive about the latest Pew Research Center poll of American Muslims. The headline of the Washington Post article is typical: “Survey: U.S. Muslims Assimilated, Opposed to Extremism.” Yet, those in the anti-Islam crowd were skeptical of the main findings of the poll, and immediately, they seized on the small amount of concerning findings of the poll as “evidence” for their contentions of “Islam’s evil.”
The editorial published the same day of the poll’s release in Investor’s Business Daily is illustrative (the editorial is in italics):
We can all breathe easier now. The first major poll of the U.S. Muslim community finds that “only” one in four young Muslim Americans would be suicide bombers. The liberal Pew Research Center, which surveyed 1,050 Muslims earlier this year, did its best to put a PC spin on the results.
It says its “overall” findings confirm that Muslims in America are “mostly mainstream” compared with their more radical co-religionists in Europe. But as is usually the case with such polls, the devil is in the details.
An alarming 26% — or roughly 100,000 — of younger U.S. Muslims say suicide bombings against non-Muslim “civilian targets” are cool. That’s really not any more comforting than the 35% of young Muslim Brits who told Pew the same thing after some of them bombed the London subway, killing 52 civilians and wounding another 700 or so. You may recall how pundits here assured us our Muslim youth would never subscribe to such lunacy.
Note the sarcastic tone of the piece. Yet, their point about suicide bombings is valid. If about 100,000 Muslim youth think suicide bombings are even “sometimes” justified, something needs to be done. The question in the poll, however, was not the bombing of “non-Muslim civilians,” but of civilians in general. Why did the editorial make that change?
Equally alarming: the poll found that 55% of Muslim Americans — regardless of age — don’t support the U.S. war on terror. That mirrors the 59% of Pakistanis who feel the same way.
Muslim Americans are at odds with the vast majority of Americans in general, 67% of whom do support the war.
This is a distortion of the poll’s findings. The question asked of Muslims was: “Do you believe the US led war on terrorism is a sincere effort to reduce international terrorism, or don’t you believe that?” 55% of Muslims responded “no.” In the editorial, however, it says that U.S. Muslims were asked “Do you support the war on terrorism?” These are completely different questions.
Perhaps the Muslims who responded to this question in the negative thought that the “war on terror” may be a ruse to further American geopolitical hegemony, or a way for America to control world oil reserves, etc. It does not mean, however, that most U.S. Muslims oppose the fight against international terrorism. In addition, the figure of 67% support is not accurate. According to an April 2007 Pew Research Center survey, only 45% of the public thinks the war in Iraq was the right decision.
Only 5% of U.S. Muslims expressed favorable views of al-Qaida, though a quarter did not express an opinion. That means 3 in 10 Muslims surveyed have favorable or unknown views about our Enemy No. 1. How can any American be undecided about the evil of al-Qaida?
This is also a valid point. I wonder how this could be myself. Yet, the editorial later seems to insinuate that the reality of U.S. Muslims is worse than what the poll suggests because:
Even Pew in its footnotes suspects that Muslim respondents held back for fear they could be tipping off the FBI about their sympathies.
“Some respondents expressed suspicions about the purpose of the study and eventually broke off the interview,” forfeiting a $50 participation stipend, it said in its report.
Also, the survey may have been biased in favor of secular Muslims. More devout Muslims who are more likely to interpret the Quran literally were “harder to reach,” Pew acknowledged, as they were busy praying toward Mecca at all hours of the day.
Of course, no critique of Muslims has to be without an insult of the ritual practices of Islam. And then, the piece de resistance of the piece:
Even without a true reflection of the fundamentalist element of Muslim America, the poll revealed the country is embedded with a ticking time bomb of Muslim youth who condone suicide bombings.
Wow! The country is “embedded” with a “ticking time bomb” of Muslim youth. What a sensationalist (and completely false) generalization! You know, it is very interesting. “IBD” in medicine stands for “Inflammatory Bowel Disease” rather than “Investors Business Daily.” And that is exactly what this editorial is: inflammatory.