The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Friday, January 09, 2015

1.6 Billion

Nicholas Kristof seems to break from the prevailing politically-correct narrative when he writes:
Is there something about Islam that leads inexorably to violence, terrorism and subjugation of women?
He justifies posing this question (a reasonable one, I think) with the following comment:
The question arises because fanatical Muslims so often seem to murder in the name of God, from the 2004 Madrid train bombing that killed 191 people to the murder of hostages at a cafe in Sydney, Australia, last month. I wrote last year of a growing strain of intolerance in the Islamic world after a brave Pakistani lawyer friend of mine, Rashid Rehman, was murdered for defending a university professor falsely accused of insulting the Prophet Muhammad.

Some of the most systematic terrorism in the Islamic world has been the daily persecution of Christians and other religious minorities, from the Bahai to the Yazidi to the Ahmadis.

Then there’s the oppression of women. Of the bottom 10 countries in the World Economic Forum’s gender gap report, I count nine as majority Muslim.

So, sure, there’s a strain of Islamic intolerance and extremism that is the backdrop to the attack on Charlie Hebdo. The magazine was firebombed in 2011 after a cover depicted Muhammad saying, “100 lashes if you’re not dying of laughter.”
So ... we have Kristof himself delineating cases of murder, mass murder, religious persecution against Christians, misogyny, and firebombing. He leaves out barbarous beheadings, virulent anti-Semitism, kidnapping of female school children, the death penalty for adultery (applied overwhelmingly against women), but no matter. All are very real, all are increasingly common, and all ...

But wait, Kristof then leaps to Islam's defense. He writes:
Terror incidents lead many Westerners to perceive Islam as inherently extremist, but I think that is too glib and simple-minded. Small numbers of terrorists make headlines, but they aren’t representative of a complex and diverse religion of 1.6 billion adherents. My Twitter feed Wednesday brimmed with Muslims denouncing the attack — and noting that fanatical Muslims damage the image of Muhammad far more than the most vituperative cartoonist.
That's true, but in the minds of whom? Not the "fanatics," who rejoice at the carnage. Not mainstream Muslims who have not, as far as I can tell, reformed their religion because it has, in part at least, been hijacked by truly evil men. If in fact, these "fanatics" are damaging Islam, what are the 1.6 billion Muslims going to do about it.

And as much as progressives love to believe that social media somehow leads to substantive social change, comments on Twitter will accomplish exactly nothing. Recall the progressive euphoria over the use a social media during the early stages of the 'arab spring'. Real change was not effected, and the end result was not particularly good. When Twitter faces an AK-47 or an IED, the weapon wins ... every time.

Kristof gets back on the politically correct narrative and warns us: "So let’s avoid religious profiling."

I agree. We need to know more to determine whether concern about Islam is, as Kristof suggests "too glib and simple-minded" or whether there's more to this than he is willing to admit.

No Islamic organization seems willing to conduct or sponsor a scientific poll of the "1.6 billion" Muslims worldwide to determine the broad spectrum of Islamic thought. For example, it would be illuminating to understand the percentage of worldwide Muslims who are:
  • loosely secular, identifying with the Muslin religion, but not fully engaged in daily practice?
  • devout, attending mosque regularly and following basic religious practices?
  • very devote, following all core tenets of the Quran, but rejecting "extremist" thought
  • angry, following the Quran explicitly, expressing sympathy for "extremist" thought, but doing nothing to support it
  • radicalized, following the Quran explicitly, supporting Sharia Law, indirectly supporting "extremists" through donations or other help, but not actively involved in violence
  • dangerous, following the Quran explicitly, supporting Sharia Law, and actively participating in violence and intimidation against any people or religion that threaten Islam as a ideology
The results of such a poll would be very illuminating. They may make the case that extrapolating the work of a few Muslim radicals is, in fact, "too glib and simple-minded." But then again, we won't know until the results are obtained.

One more thing, 1.6 billion is a very big number, meaning that even very small percentages will yield very big absolute values. If one percent of all Muslims is "angry" (see definition above), that yields 16 million co-religionists who have at least some sympathy for extremist thought.  If 1/10th of one percent of all Muslims is "radicalized" (see definition above), that yields 1.6 million co-religionists who have actively supported extremist thought. And if  1/100th of one percent of all Muslims is "dangerous" (see definition above), that yields 160,000 co-religionists who will murder in the name of Islam.

No one knows what the actual numbers are (it might be a good thing for the UN to "investigate") but I suspect they are much higher than my guestimates. Until we know for sure, it is hardly "glib" or "simple minded" to suggest that the behavior of the radicalized and dangerous segments of Islam represents a clear and present danger to the West.

As if to put an exclamation point on the seriousness of France's (and the West's) problem with radical Islam, multiple media outlets are reporting on a hostage situation at a Kosher store in the Jewish section of Paris. Four hostages killed along with the Muslim who was the hostage taker. Another terrorist is said to have escaped, but things are sketchy.

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, the virulent anti-Semitism espoused by angry, radicalized and dangerous Muslims, is clearly reminiscent of the Nazis in the 1930s. The main stream media attempts to avoid the story (except when forced, as in today's carnage). It's reasonable to ask Islam the questions I've posed above. Those of us who believe the threat is real (and those who are determined to ignore it) would be well-served if we have a better understanding of the magnitude of the problem.

As if to underline the politically correct nonsense that passes for commentary in the United States, CNN's left-leaning Chris Cuomo first suggested that an "African American Man" was a hostage taker at in the Kosher Shop standoff. He later corrected when he realized the the adjective was wholly inappropriate when describing a Frenchman. But really? Cuomo tried so hard not to say the word "Muslim" he made a fool out of himself. Then again, that's not particularly hard to do.