Monday, December 6, 2010

“The vast majority of Muslims reject violence." Let's Define “Vast”

The violence Islam has perpetrated across the globe over the past 40 years or so is committed by a small percentage of radicals who, we are constantly reminded, distort Muslim values and the words of the Koran. Time and again we are told that the “vast majority” of Muslims are peace loving people who deplore violence in the name of their religion. To question this is to open ones self up to accusations of “Islamophobe” and/or “far right alarmist” by the enlightened politically correct.

I am neither phobic, far right, nor an alarmist. I am however skeptical by nature. I require objective evidence before I accept as fact statements proffered as true. I am dubious of claims that are repeated so often that, like mindless religious sheep, people baa in agreements and buy into them. I’ll leave that kind of non-think to theists. Give me some scientifically gathered data for a claim.

I have long wondered exactly what is meant by “vast majority.” I would venture to say that hearing that terminology most of us would apply single digits, perhaps 2% to 8%, to those Muslims who support violence…the “vast majority” of peace loving Muslims thus being 92% to 98%. We’d be grossly mistaken.

The Pew Research Center, perhaps the world’s most highly respected institute for scientific polling, has issued its latest findings on Muslim attitudes on politics and opinion in seven Muslim nations. Here is a brief synopsis of their findings:
· The median percentage of those surveyed who support the most radical terrorist organization, al Qaeda, is 22%, almost one out of four.
· The median percentage for those who support Osama Bin Laden is 21%.
· The median percentage of those who support Hezbollah is 35%.
· The median percentage of those who support suicide bombing is 20%.

Here is the full report;

Given this data it appears that “vast majority” of peace loving, anti-terror, anti-extremist Muslims means approximately 65% - 79%. Or, to look at it another way, between two (2) and four (4) out of every ten (10) Muslims in these countries endorse the use of violence to promote fanatical Muslim objectives.

Oh to be sure, approximately 75% opposing violence is a majority compared to the roughly 25% endorsing it. And I’m certainly happy that it’s not the reverse percentage. But while that would be a land slide if we were speaking in terms of election results, when it comes to dismissing Muslim support for fanaticism, violence, death, and hostility against non-Muslims -- to use the term “vast majority” is not only a little optimistic, it’s an outright distortion.

If two or three out of every ten Americans endorsed the murder of innocents to promote their agenda; or endorsed Timothy McVeigh; or supported fanatical survivalist groups; or applauded abortion clinic bombing; or felt that blowing oneself up in pursuit of a political goal was sometimes justified, I dare say we’d be rather alarmed. But because we are speaking of a specific religion and culture, we are willing to discount the 25% as just a “small minority’ of that group.

The next time you hear the politically correct head in the sand apologists down play the violent nature of Islam, you may want to challenge their understanding of “vast majority” or “small minority.” Or, you may prefer to ignore scientific fact and rely on blind belief. We know how that works.


NewEnglandBob said...

That percentage is at least 10 times what a normal population would support. It represents how foul the teachings of Islam has been.

Rastifan said...

When debating terror and support for it, I get the "but those are not real Muslims".

However, they do not hesitate to include those "non Muslims" in the equation when they brag about the number of followers Islam have.

According to your article here Hump, the 1.570 billion according to the Pew Forums would be downsized quite a bit. Not that I see how terror and bullying is in conflict with Mohammed's teachings. Because they are not.

And Islam means submission. In a religious context it means complete submission to the will of God.

Dromedary Hump said...

[[[The following post was rec'd by email from "Susan" and is reposted here with her permission]]]

I'm so glad to hear you go against the knee jerk reaction of "It's just a small percentage..." I am so sick of that. Look at the numbers, that small percentage still manage to commit 3-5 deadly attacks globally, per day. But here's another point to consider. While most Muslims will never strap bombs to themselves, a larger number don't think it is a bad thing. Consider the even larger number or majority who support the aim of those terrorists which is Islamic supremacism. The goal of Jihad, peaceful or violent is to establish world domination and bring the entire planet under Sharia. I would say that it is a majority who support that.
For up to the minute body counts:

By the way, Sweden just changed their constitution without approval or knowledge of its citizens. It is now unconstitutional to criticize a religion (Gee I wonder who that might be serving) it is also now OK for people not born in Sweden to hold high offices so we can expect more changes to accommodate the religion of piss.

Dromedary Hump said...

{{{ the following post was rec'd via email from "Charles" and is reposted here with his pernmission]]]

And, equating these percentages to real numbers; 25% of the approximately 1B muslims we would estimate produces 250 Million who do endorse or support extreme violence. Not a trivial number. Just a little south of the entire population of the US.

Bana said...

You say, "If two or three out of every ten Americans endorsed the murder of innocents to promote their agenda... I dare say we’d be rather alarmed." I'm pretty sure that the American Military is responsible for more civilian deaths in the last 10 years than Al Qaeda, Hezbollah and all the other terrorist groups put together. The tactic may be different, but dead is dead.

Dromedary Hump said...

if you are somehow trying to show a moral equivalence between terrorist organizations targeting civilians, and the collateral damage in a war one caused by the military it fails...terribly.

No American endorses the killing of innocent civilians by us troops to my knowledge. My blog speaks about a significant percentage of non-combatant Muslims who endorse exactly that.

When we accidently killed civilians in Nam we were quite unhappy. Some of us were traumatized by it. We tried to avoid it. that to al queda, hezbollah, and suicide bombers who glorify killing civilians.

If you still want to make that comparison now that youve had the opportunity to think about me a favor.. don't post here anymore. This isn't a forum for blind anti-american hatred. There are a lot of other places you can go to air that.

Susan said...

This is a situation where the left are somewhat of a problem. So disgusted by the religious right (and rightly so) they will go so far to disagree with the right that they side with the wrong.

The same people who get their panties in a twist over the mild threat of a Christian theocracy seem to have no problem with Islam which is ten thousand times worse.
WHERE are the human rights groups? Where are the feminists?
They are pretentiously endorsing the side that looks like it has the most brown people. This is the depth they use to make their decisions that they swear are really really deep.
Ah the new racism - it's the same as old racism but has that new age smell.

Dromedary Hump said...

Susan...a solid observation well stated. Thks.

Anonymous said...

Just curious.... What do you propose we should do, now that we're armed with these objective facts? What do you think our government should do?

Dromedary Hump said...

Interesting question.

I doubt this information about Muslim attitudes toward violent jihad and those that practice it is an actionable piece of data. I see it as simply recognition of fact supplanting politically correct misinformation.

Since these feelings among a significant percentage of Muslims are religiously supported and culturally driven, knowledge is it's own reward.

Anonymous said...

To me, it's not a question of political correctness, but rather one of tactics. If you trumpet the fact that Islam contains a higher proportion of violent crazies than most other religions, you may just be providing additional ammunition to our home-grown crazies, strengthening their bid to make the U.S. a "Christian nation."

I'm more comfortable sticking to the idea that virtually every religion generates a certain number of homicidal loonies. That should come as no surprise, since every religion seeks to convince its followers that they're "special," annointed by a sky pixie, and superior to the infidels. Couple that belief with some of the less savory aspects of our inner apes, and you've got trouble.

The degree to which various religions contain the seeds of violence perhaps shouldn't be the issue.

BTW, there seems to be a loose inverse age relationship at work here. The younger the faith, the more numerous and more dangerous its fundies. I emphasize the word "loose," since exceptions abound.

Dromedary Hump said...

we'll have to disagree on this.

I sincerely doubt GW Bush who constantly implied that Muslim's are peaceful by nature and that the violence done in their name or supporterd by their faithful is a small minority of them , was based on his not wanting to see "Xtian nationalists" increase their power in the US.

Infact, if that were the case, instead of down playing it he'd have fanned the fire of anti-muslim rhetoric to accomplish exactly that, considering he is a fundie himself.

If understating Muslim propensity and support of violence is not political correctness at play, then it is simply head in the sand denial, or gross stupidity.

On your second point: I do not the the age and violence correlation at all among Xtians. Stats in the US indicate that evangelical christians are becoming LESS fanatical, focusing more on faith and away from abortion protesting, infusing politics with their religion, and overt acts of gross stupidity.

I will grant you that the vast majority of suicide bombers and jihaddists among muslim fanatics are under 40. But there in lies another problem... the age of muslims is getting consistantly lower because of their extremely high birth rate compared to western cultures/religions; and because cvonverts to islam tend to be among the young & disinfranchised. Thus,if anything it means Muslim violence or the acceptence of it is going to get worse than it is now.

Anonymous said...

GWB trying to be politically correct? That's not the GWB I recall (with an involuntary shudder). You probably shouldn't try to parse Bush's statements for motivation or deeper meaning - it will just make your head hurt.

But to repeat, to what end should we make loud noises about Islamic violence? I don't understand the purpose in doing so.

On the "age" question, I was referring to the age of the religion, not the age of its followers. Christianity is less bloody than it used to be (see The Crusades, The Inquisition, etc.). The religion has, it seems, mellowed a bit.

Islam is a younger religion, and seems to embrace more violence. Scientology is very young, and the dangerous fundies are actually running the show. Judaism is a very old religion, and doesn't harbor too many "slaughter the goyim" members, though the extreme right wing in Israel can be pretty strident.

And it's been a long time since anyone was attacked by a roving band of Druid extremists. ;)

Dromedary Hump said...

i said either politically correct, or head in the sand idiocy. Lets assume the latter with GWB. I certainly don't think he down played it, as you imply, because of an instinct to blunt fundie christian fervor. At best it is intentional deception to not alienate Muslim nations with whom we have important trade relations.

Islam is where xtianity was 600 years ago. I don't believe the world has 600 years to wait and see if the muslims will "mellow."
There is a big difference between what a few hundred thousand crusaders can do to humanity with swords and battle axes , and the destructive power of nuclear and biological weapons in the hands of modern day fanatics.

as for the purpose of acknowledging the facts of the proportion of muslims who support violence.. I'll repeat: knowledge for it's own sake is power. Thus, I prefer knowledge to ignorance; fact to assumption; truth to deception. To the extent it helps us formulate our foreign aid policy, or intelligence gathering focus, or threat levels , that knowledge cannot be a bad thing.

in any event, I'd rather we know "thine enemy" and the scope of a potential threat, than simply assume the threat is less than it is. I'm sure Sun Tzu would concur.

Dromedary Hump said...

Note-- above I said :
"To the extent it helps us formulate our foreign aid policy, or intelligence gathering focus, or threat levels ..."

I should have added, "immigration policy."

Anonymous said...

I think what struck me about your original post was that, with only minor editing, it could have appeared on the website of any one of a number of right-wing hate groups without raising an eyebrow.

Take out the second paragraph, which consists of disclaimers, and a subordinate clause or two in the next-to-last paragraph (re: abortion, e.g.), and you've got a post that would be right at home on the Dove World Outreach Center's site.

It's only lacking the final, unspoken paragraph, which would call for driving all Muslims out of the country, since we've now demonstrated that they're inordinately dangerous.

Strange bedfellows, indeed. It gave me pause.

Dromedary Hump said...

Reporting scientifically gathered fact is not indicative of hate, any more than Pew collecting the data is indicative of hate.

Nothing in my post suggested deportation, indiscriminate discrimination, or anything that home grown non-muslim hate groups would happily endorse. If by my posting this info someone interprets it as such, the issue rests with them, not I.

If one prefers NOT to have reliable data that refutes misinformatoion for any reason, that is their choice. If
people prefer to continue to happily accept only 1 or 2 or 3 out of every 100 muslims have radical inclinations instead of 20-25 out of 100, that is their choice. Much like accepting creationism over the truth and evidence of evolutionary theory is a choice... or perhaps a meme.

If nothing else the next time my readership hears the media say "only a very small minority of Muslims support violence" at least you can say: "Not according to the Pew Survey."

(an aside: I wonder why the Pew survey results aren't reported in the main stream media. I guess it's not news worthy, was worthy enough for this exchange ;)

Dromedary Hump said...

Let me post one more thing, because the implications of what you said are frankly troubling.

We've all heard it said that catholic priets are no more prone to child molestation than any other clergy. That all clergy (and group with access to children) are equally represented by unsavory perverts. We also always hear the "it's a tiny minority of the priesthood" whatever the hell that means.

If a scientificaly conducted study was done that contradicts the stated assumption and reported that of all the child sexual abuse cases involving clergy in the USA 1/2 of them were by Catholic clergy--while catholics only represent 25% of the US population-- should that report be suppressed? After all, what should the gov't or any of us do with that information?

Does the fact of that data make anyone conducting the research or reporting it guilty of suggesting mass round ups of priests, or indiscriminate searches of priestly computers or abodes, or suspension of constitutional guarentees for prists?

Would we all be better off just assuming that catholic priests are no more a threat to children than any other clergy and leave it alone and not report the facts?

What hate group would I be a "strange bedfellow" of by reporting this information?