I saw this story when it came out in the Wall Street Journal but did not have a chance to write about it here; this NewsMax summary (thanks to John) faithfully reproduces all the flaws of the WSJ original.
Muslims in the U.S. tend to be “role models,” both as Americans and as Muslims, according to an eye-opening commentary in the Wall Street Journal….
The Journal, however, took a look at the situation among Muslim in the U.S. and found:
“¢ Most Arab-Americans aren’t Muslims. Only 24 percent of the 1.2 million Americans of Arab descent are Muslim, and most of the rest are Catholic, Eastern Orthodox or Protestant.
“¢ Most American Muslims aren’t Arabs. One third are of South Asian descent, 20 percent are American blacks and just 26 percent are Arabs.
These two points, while interesting, are utterly irrelevant to whether American Muslims are “role models” or not. They actually only address an entirely different question — the erroneous tendency of Americans to use “Arab” and “Muslim” synonymously.
“¢ Muslim advocacy groups say there are more than 6 million Muslims in the U.S. But the most credible study to date estimates the total Muslim population at 1,886,000.
What does that tell you about Muslim advocacy groups? Are they included in the “role model” category?
“¢ 59 percent of American Muslims have at least an undergraduate degree, making them the most highly educated group in the U.S.
“¢ American Muslims comprise the richest Muslim community in the world – four out of five earn more than $25,000 a year and one in three makes more than $75,000.
“¢ 82 percent are registered to vote.
“¢ 64 percent of American Muslims are foreign born, but the overwhelming majority arrived here legally.
“¢ 21 percent of American Muslims marry a member of another faith.
According to the data compiled by the Journal, the U.S. does not have a “Muslim problem,” write Bret Stephens and Joseph Rago in the commentary.
“On the contrary, America’s Muslims tend to be role models both as Americans and as Muslims.”
But the Journal warns: “It takes no more than a few men (or women) to carry out a terrorist atrocity, and there can be no guarantee that the U.S. is immune from homegrown Islamist terror.”
Bret Stephens’ and Joseph Rago’s mistaken assumptions are flying thick and fast here. While American Muslims may indeed be role models in their wealth and high voter registration rate, it is not at all true that only ill-educated poor people actually commit terrorist atrocities. This has been disproved in study after study, as well as by looking at our experience in the United States. Maher Hawash worked at Intel. He made $360,000 a year. He was in the U.S. legally — in fact, he was a naturalized citizen. I’ll wager he was registered to vote. He married an American. Stephens and Rago would have confidently held him up as a role model and considered inconceivable the idea that he could turn out to be a jihad terrorist. And yet he was.
The WSJ article is yet another manifestation of a fundamental misunderstanding that blankets the public discourse about Islamic terrorism. Even at the Wall Street Journal they don’t understand that the primary motivation of the jihadists is a religious ideology, not resentment born of economic injustice or marginalization. But economic injustice and marginalization are things they understand; a religious ideology that can move men to give up good lives and devote themselves to murder and destruction is so far out of their purview that they cannot even imagine it, and take all the evidence of it that is in front of their faces as indications of something else.
There very likely are model citizens among American Muslims. But none of the statistics marshalled by Stephens and Rago does one thing to establish whether or not there among all these affluent and law-abiding Muslims there are people who, like Mike Hawash, are nursing jihadist sentiments.