Alan Cooperman’s Washington Post report on the the Pew Research Center poll of American Muslims is typical of mainstream media coverage of the poll: disturbing findings are ignored or downplayed, and the whole thing is given a bland, reassuring, and ultimately misleading headline.
The Post’s story seems to be based on the proposition that all is well here because things are worse in Europe, which is like saying that your cold is cured because the guy across the street has pneumonia.
Unlike Muslim minorities in many European countries, U.S. Muslims are highly assimilated, close to parity with other Americans in income and overwhelmingly opposed to Islamic extremism, according to the first major, nationwide random survey of Muslims.
The survey by the Pew Research Center found that 78 percent of U.S. Muslims said the use of suicide bombings against civilian targets to defend Islam is never justified. But 5 percent said it is justified “rarely,” 7 percent said “sometimes,” and 1 percent said “often”; the remaining 9 percent said they did not know or declined to answer.
I don’t see how this can possibly be spun as good news. Imagine if 13% of Christians had been polled as supporting suicide bombing. Do you think the WaPo headline would have been that Christians are “opposed to extremism”? It seems as if once again we are witnessing the soft bigotry of low expectations. No Muslims, or anyone else, in the U.S. or anywhere else should be supporting suicide bombing. If a significant number in the U.S. does support them, as seems to be the case, that is a matter of grave concern for government and law enforcement officials, and raises numerous important questions about immigration, the monitoring of American mosques, and more. But if anyone is concerned about it, they aren’t getting a hearing in the Washington Post.
By comparison, Muslims in France, Spain and Britain were almost twice as likely to say suicide bombing is sometimes or often justified, and public acceptance of the tactic is even higher in some countries with large Muslim populations, such as Nigeria, Jordan and Egypt.
Oh, well then, everything is OK here. U.S. Muslims Assimilated, Opposed to Extremism. Got it.