Response to "most muslims are peaceful": what's your opinion?

See this response by someone from the Heritage Foundation in response to a Muslim woman’s question.

One part of me says that this is a harsh analysis of the problem but I’m having trouble refuting her points.

I’d like to hear other people’s opinions about this. Do you believe what she is saying? What do you think?


How do I respond…

Intellectually, I agree with Brigitte Gabriel. There’s absolutely no denying that, while most Muslims are not dangerous or terrorists, most of the world’s most dangerous terrorists are Muslims. And the majority of decent Muslims (I know and work with many) don’t seem eager to oppose the dangerous crazies. Too many of them ARE letting the bad guys set the agenda.

That said, Saba Ahmed, the young woman who raised the question, seemed like a modest, thoughtful, decent person asking a legitimate question, and I hated the way she was treated.

It will be mighty hard for any conservative to convince HER that American conservatives don’t just have an irrational hatred for all Muslims.

Keep in mind, those numbers she used (the Heritage woman) came straight out or her ass.

I’ll concede that there are a large number of bigoted Muslims against us westerners but that’s mostly due to indoctrination. Also, the vast majority of these bigoted Muslims aren’t actually willing to take up arms and commit acts of terrorism.
It’s just like here in the states, lots of racist people around but very few would commit an act of violence towards a minority.

Brigitte Gabriel dodged the question. Saba Ahmed actually cut quite close to the heart of the matter: how can you fight radical ideology with violence? When the “peaceful majority” does allow the extremist minority to set the agenda, that creates a situation you cannot fight with weapons alone.

Gabriel decided to ignore this and merely abuse the questioner and blame all Muslims everywhere for not showing up in person to decry extremist violence, neatly demonstrating that Saba Ahmed’s question is an important one. Sure, Gabriel’s right that a “peaceful majority” is often irrelevant, but that’s neither here nor there.

(I also strongly doubt her claim that as many as 25% of Muslims worldwide are “radical” in a meaningful sense. That sounds exaggerated.)

That’s really my main critique of Islam; not only do most violent terrorists seem to be Muslim, there doesn’t seem to be any serious decrying of the terrorist acts, or the subsequent celebrations on the streets by the average everyday Muslims.

To be fair, I think that a big part of the problem is that Islam is somewhat fragmented relative to most of the bigger Christian denominations, so there’s less of a party line to follow- Osama bin Laden can issue fatwas, as can all the various Grand Muftis, and there’s no real agreement as to who’s fatwa is correct.

I don’t know that many muslims in person, so I have no idea. Bernard Lewis said something like 10-20% agree ideologically with Islamists, but only a tiny minority of them are going to offer actual physical support.

Either way, Islamic majority nations tend to lag on political, civil and human rights even if they do not support Islamism. I do not know how much of that is cultural, regional or what.

This is a nonsensical overgeneralization. There are fifty-some Muslim-majority nations. Some lead the world on some human rights issues, which is about all you could say for any large group of nations selected by a single characteristic.

There are 1.57 billion Muslims; if most Muslims weren’t peaceful (well, as peaceful as humans ever are), then we’d see the world covered in an ocean of blood. Terrorism is a trivial problem on the global scale, despite all the attempts by many people to pump it up into a serious global threat.

Being “someone from the Heritage Foundation” pretty much discredits by default anything they’d say on any subject whatsoever as far as I’m concerned. If they proclaim gravity exists I’ll look out the window to make sure things haven’t started falling up.

Seriously; if someone like that says something that I agree with, my immediate reaction is going to wonder if I’m wrong.

Non-Muslims who think the same way tend to be powerful enough that they don’t get called “terrorists”. “Terrorist” is what the big army calls the little army"; if you can invade a nation or drone people for your religion then you aren’t a terrorist. The high level of Muslim terrorism is mostly a reflection of the relative powerlessness and poverty of Islam dominated regions; they aren’t rich enough to not be considered terrorists when they kill for their religion.

And, they tend to be more honest. Among Christians at this point in history it’s considered the norm to cloak religiously motivated hostility and violence with at least a thin non-religious excuse. Islamic fanatics tend to just come right out and admit they’re killing for their religion.

As well, the media generally just ignores it when the terrorists are condemned by the Islamic public or clergy. It doesn’t fit the Christian narrative.

There are about 50 muslim majority nations, they lag behind the non-muslim majority nations on political, civil and human rights.

Those stats are from 2001, I am guessing they are better in 2014 but I don’t know by how much.

Which muslim majority nations lead the world in human rights issues?

Having lived in the Middle East for two years, it is my opinion that I did not meet a single Jordanian who was not peaceful. Everyone I knew, by the way, was basically free to go about their business as they saw fit. Get any job they could qualify for, get a passport and travel wherever they liked, shop where they liked and buy what they could afford. They lived in a country in which they were, in nearly all day-to-day respects, just as free as Americans. And they were free to practice Islam to whatever extend suited their conscience and their relationship with their God. The non-Muslim majority felt little significant discrimination.

I can’t buy this line of argument, as it a) seems to assume that all 1 point whatever billion muslims are in communication with, and have influence over, each other, and b) that they have some sort of special duty to oppose jihadist activities by doing something other than simply not participating in it.

Let’s say there is a muslim family living in Houston, where the husband works for a major oilfield service company as an engineer and the kids go to local schools. Could you describe for me his, or his family’s, specific obligation to ‘oppose the dangerous crazies’, other than simply living out their lives? If they simply adhere to the general rules of modest dress, prayer and mosque attendance, without ever being directly involved with, or vocally supporting jihadists, are they ‘letting the bad guys set the agenda’? Cause that what the above quote sounds like.

Since this was the Heritage Foundation, the well was quite poisoned from the beginning. 15-25% of Muslims are prone to violence? (as best I can remember from the video, I can’t watch it again without vomiting). The woman was a bully, pulling numbers out of her ass to win her “points” by shouting, histrionics, and intimidation.

Yes, there were Muslims that decried the violence of 9/11 and other terrorist acts. People forget that because they intentionally forget to in order to reinforce their own bigotry. But the average American Muslim has no more need to denounce Islamic terrorists than the average American Catholic did to speak out against the IRA.

I know and work with many Christians. And I’ve never heard one of them express opposition to Eric Rudolph.

I was a Christian until very recently, a liberal one. I was not eager to oppose the dangerous crazy Christians, simply because I didn’t think it was legitimate to associate me with them in the first place. I did oppose them, but I wasn’t any more particularly eager to oppose them than I was any other dangerous crazies.

If you think about it, if most Muslims weren’t peaceful you’d have started your post with something like “Having lived in the Middle East for two years, I never really met anyone because I spent my time hiding in a bunker from the kill-squads.”

People who claim that most Muslims are violent clearly aren’t thinking about what that would really mean. Even in wars most people aren’t violent, they’re just trying to stay out of the way.

My point was that because over a quarter of the nations in the world are Muslim nations, which includes nations that are very different from each other, characterizing them in any generalized way can be quite misleading. Malaysia is very different from Turkey which is very different from Ethiopia which is very different from Suriname.

A study that just lumps them all together and measures for some variable, with no controls, is akin to a study that just looks at white and black outcomes in America without attempting to control for other variables. It’s like looking at Korean countries and concluding that they are starving. It’s a myopic and silly exercise unless you make more sophisticated use of data and statistics.

What happens, for example, if you limit your analysis to countries in the global south to control for economics and colonialism? Do the Muslim countries there lag behind their brethren in Uganda, Colombia, and Zimbabwe, Congo, and Myanmar?

To name but one example, three of the world’s largest Muslim nations have all elected female heads of state, but the United States has never done so. Also, no Muslim nation is in the top 40 for per capita incarceration rates.

A world where more than half of the Muslims were violent would be a pretty bizarre one. Of course this is not true.

I’m not really interested in picking a side here, but come on. There are a hell of a lot of peaceful, poverty-stricken places in the world, and many Muslim terrorists who have both money and education. And are there really lots of people who kill for their religions but dodge the “terrorist” label due to affluence?

Besides this, the label “terrorist” is irrelevant. How we use the term doesn’t affect how peaceful Islam is, or how aggressive an act it is to kill for religious reasons.

Do you have any comparable, contemporary examples of religiously-motivated hostility by Christians? And why is it that criticism of another religion immediately draws a knee-jerk “Christians too!” response, anyway?

The American attack on Iraq had a strong “Christian crusade against the Muslims” component; a general desire to kill Muslims, any Muslims. It wasn’t called “terrorism” though since it was done with a big army and not a small one.

Because in a primarily Christian society the primary reason for bashing other religions is to push Christianity. Pretending that Christianity is better is part of that strategy.

I’ve been assaulted, insulted, and repeatedly informed that “Basque want independence”, that “Basque are all terrorists”, been told that “we should just bomb the Basque country” (or, by someone even less subtle, “we should just bomb Spain”)…

Most Basque are and have been peaceful, and those outsiders had no idea what any of us was or was not doing against those we literally call “the violent ones”.

I tend to assume that the same is true about any group of which I hear similar blanket associations with unacceptable behavior, that the whole group is blamed for the actions of a relatively small amount.

As for things like those lists of democracies, two things: one, democracy may be the least bad form of government but it’s not the only acceptable one; two, often these lists are prepared by people who don’t know shit from tit, witness for example Andorra changing the names of their institutions in order to be considered democratic (the actual electoral processes are the same they’d been for centuries).

Colombia is a Muslim country?