Muslim spokesmen explain away support for suicide bombing among young Muslims. Note that none of them say, “This is a problem we must deal with by working to refute this ideology in our schools and mosques, and expelling from them those who spread it.”
“Young U.S. Muslims face mistrust,” by Eric Gorski for AP:
A show of sympathy for suicide bombers among some young, American Muslims has raised new concerns about homegrown extremism, but also is highlighting calls to engage the nation’s growing Muslim population.
Ah yes. It’s all because of non-Muslims, you see. If non-Muslims would only “engage the nation’s growing Muslim population,” this support for suicide bombing would evanesce.
A Pew Research Center poll released late last month found that, while U.S. Muslims are largely the picture of assimilation, about a quarter of Muslims ages 18 to 29 said the use of suicide bombing against civilian targets to defend Islam could be justified, at least on rare occasions.
The finding was described by some as a trouble spot, and even a hair-raising statistic, but many Muslim scholars had another reaction to the Pew report: What did you expect?
“Given what’s happened in Iraq and Palestine, I would be shocked if there wasn’t discontent,” said Omid Safi, professor of Islamic studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
“The issue is how the discontent is going to be expressed, and whether it’s a juvenile romanticization of suicide bombing or whether it’s going to be done by participation and transformation of the structures.”
Here Omid Safi demonstrates the clarity of thought for which he is justly renowned, and which he previously manifested in his class on “Islamophobia.” In that he cheerfully flouted any pretense of training his students to think for themselves, and instead filled their heads with propaganda and hit-and-run smears of (among other people) scholars and writers that Safi himself can never hope to equal, including Bernard Lewis, Samuel Huntington, Fouad Ajami, Leo Strauss, Daniel Pipes, Alan Bloom, David Pryce-Jones, Bat Ye’or, Niall Ferguson, Robert Kagan, Dore Gold and Ibn Warraq.
But since propaganda rules this day in the academy, this didn’t earn Safi the scorn and ridicule it so earnestly invited, but instead, apparently, sprung him from the academic wilderness of Colgate University and gained him a plumb spot in Carl-Ernstville, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, one of the more energetic purveyors of detours and nonsense about Islam and jihad.
In this case, Safi waves away support for suicide bombing among young U.S. Muslims, joining those who are saying it’s all our fault: “Given what’s happened in Iraq and Palestine, I would be shocked if there wasn’t discontent.” Then he adds: “The issue is how the discontent is going to be expressed, and whether it’s a juvenile romanticization of suicide bombing or whether it’s going to be done by participation and transformation of the structures.” Now, I know what it’s like to speak to reporters, and I spoke to this same one myself, so I’m sure Safi said more than this, and perhaps the rest of what he said made this statement clearer. On the face of it, he is dismissing the support for suicide attacks as a “juvenile romanticization” — a characterization belied by the abortive JFK Airport and Fort Dix plots — and positing as an alternative “participation and transformation of the structures.” So apparently he is calling for Muslims in the U.S. to engage in political action rather than suicide attacks. This is well and good, although at least in this article he offers no program for how to get from Point A to Point B. And his remarks make one wonder why it is that so many young Muslims, confronted with the alleged American outrages of Iraq and Palestine, didn’t apparently think of political action as a suitable response in the first place. On why “discontent” translates to any support for suicide attacks at all, Safi at least here has nothing to say, and no recommendations for an antidote.
From the American Muslim perspective, the nearly six years since the Sept. 11 attacks have been a time of dealing with widespread mistrust of all the Islamic faithful, particularly the young. A report on Muslim youth released Thursday by the Los Angeles-based Muslim Public Affairs Council cites prejudice and discrimination against Muslims as a “root cause” of radicalization.
Ah. I see. So prejudice and discrimination breeds jihadists. One wonders then why so many other populations in the U.S. and elsewhere have never turned to suicide attacks despite facing profound prejudice and discrimination. Here again MPAC places the responsibility to end jihadist sentiment among Muslims on non-Muslims, instead of where it belongs. We are told that prejudice and discrimination are what breed jihadists, despite the fact that CAIR has to go hunting to find genuine incidents of prejudice and discrimination against Muslims in America, and pads its “hate crimes” report with exaggerations, fictions, and self-inflicted damage. This contention echoes the jihadist recruitment in other countries, with its laundry lists of alleged American and Israeli atrocities. MPAC says nary a word about jihadism or support for suicide bombing as being always an unjustified response, no matter what the provocation. It says nothing about the supremacist elements of Islamic theology, and the imperative to subjugate unbelievers, which is part of what gives jihadism its appeal.
Will an end to prejudice and discrimination, real or imagined, really extinguish that supremacist impulse? On that MPAC talks a good game but proposes solutions that aren’t really solutions:
The report urges “fighting bad theology with good theology” and proposes solutions from forming a U.S. government advisory board of young Muslims to placing Muslim chaplains on every American college campus.
How does the U.S. government listening to young Muslims and the placement of Muslim chaplains on college campuses fight bad theology with good? For that we would need programs teaching against Islamic supremacism and jihad violence in every mosque and madrasa in the country. On that, however — MPAC is silent.
A closer look at the Pew report, meantime, shows that of the 26 percent of young Muslims who expressed sympathy for suicide bombers, nearly half of them said it is justified only in rare circumstances.
Muqtedar Khan, an assistant professor of political science and international relations at the University of Delaware, said it’s important to consider how the question was framed: whether suicide bombing could be justified “in defense of Islam,” a powerful phrase for a community that believes the West is waging a war against Islam.
They believe that here, Muqtedar? Even after all of Bush’s efforts to convince them of the contrary? Interesting.
“When you ask people these questions, people are not just answering, they’re answering to suit their politics,” Khan said. “They do not want to extend any legitimacy to the U.S. war on terror.”
So support for suicide bombing comes from believing the war on terror is illegitimate? There is no other way to express this belief?
Khan also blames the Internet for fueling younger Muslims’ empathy for radicalism, and a report to Congress last month backs up that concern. Prepared by a panel of experts, it found extremist Islamic groups are exploiting the Internet for communications, propaganda – even recruitment and training.
Ah. At last a sensible and accurate statement — that is, that jihadists use the Internet. Blaming the Internet for this, rather than the jihadists and the young Muslims who seek out their websites, is just more silly diversion from the real problem.
The Pew survey also found young adult Muslims are more likely to attend mosque services and identify themselves as Muslims first before Americans, begging the question of whether a correlation exists between greater religiosity and tolerance for terrorism.
Amaney Jamal, an assistant professor of political science at Princeton University and an adviser on the Pew survey, doesn’t see a connection. On questions of religious practice, the poll found young Muslims are less likely to pray, fast and give to charity. To young Muslims, the mosque is not just a worship hall but a community center, a place to hang out, he said.
So what the poll exposed, he said, was a subtle but important difference: stronger religious identity among young Muslims, but not greater religious observance.
“The youth by and large also have felt the effects of 9/11 more so than any other segment of the population,” Jamal said. “This youth has grown up where all things Muslims are treated suspect, that Muslims are the enemy within. They’ve experienced it at public schools, campuses, places of employment. Maybe they’re trying to broadcast to a mainstream audience that we’re proud to be Muslims.”
And there is no other way to express this pride? Wouldn’t one expect patriotic American Muslims who feel put upon after 9/11 to be all the more intent on demonstrating their patriotism?
The suicide bomber finding, he said, should not be viewed as an endorsement of attacks on the United States, but in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, where the tactic is common.
Understood. And I guess this is supposed to make it all right?
Eboo Patel, the 31-year-old founder and executive director of Chicago-based Interfaith Youth Core, which promotes pluralism by teaming people of different faiths on service projects, sees building trust as a major issue for young Muslims.
“We don’t need more FBI agents poking around in the youth sections of mosques,” he said.
“Do we need to spend a whole lot more time involving young Muslims in positive ways to build a better world? Absolutely yes, a hundred times over.”
Don’t defend yourselves. Rather, work to appease this population — perhaps by throwing Israel to the jihadist wolves — and all will be well.
Those who take a darker view of Islam, seized on the Pew findings as evidence of a legitimate threat, pointing out that it takes only a few disgruntled souls to exact horrific damage.
“That it’s younger people indicates there has been a tremendous tendency toward a recovery of more radical aspects of the faith,” said Robert Spencer, director of Jihad Watch, a project of the David Horowitz Freedom Center. “In the past, immigrants were encouraged and inclined to assimilate.”
Others point out that Americans as a whole, not just Muslims, have shown a willingness to sacrifice civilians’ lives under certain circumstances.
A December 2006 survey by the University of Maryland’s Program on International Attitudes found 24 percent of Americans believe “bombings and other attacks intentionally aimed at civilians” are often or sometimes justified. The poll found no significant variance based on age.
This has become a common trope: non-Muslim Americans support attacks on civilians in greater numbers than Muslims do! The only problem with it is that it’s false. When CAIR’s Ahmad al-Akhras hauled out the same University of Maryland survey, Patrick Poole observed:
It is important here to note what’s going on behind the curtain: Al-Akhras is engaging is the very moral equivalency that he and his CAIR colleagues constantly deny that they ever make, equating suicide attacks with conventional and internationally recognized methods of warfare. Most Americans would agree with the atomic bombs dropped at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as well as the bombing of German industrial centers during WWII. But what Al-Akhras has in mind are Palestinian suicide bombers blowing up Israeli pizza parlors. The two are substantially different in the minds of most Americans. I would also note that it is US policy to never intentionally target civilians in combat.
The Gorski article continues:
Asma Gull Hasan looks at the Pew findings and sees the impact of experiences shared by young Americans across the spectrum, including exposure to violence through entertainment.
The 32-year-old Muslim author and speaker from Denver said young, immigrant Muslims feel more alienated and exposed to prejudice than their parents are. Because most U.S. Muslims are raised conservatively – and won’t consider rebelling through sex or drugs – many experiment with their faith, she said.
“To express my teen and 20s desire to be different, to rebel, I explored my religion,” Hasan said. “Christian children ride motorcycles. A percentage of Muslim youth say suicide bombings are justified. Chalk it up to youthful rebellion and telephone survey bravado.”
Yeah, blowing yourself up in a pizza parlor is just like joining a motorcycle gang. Chalk it up to “telephone survey bravado.”
In reality, since the survey participants had to give their names and addresses to get paid, it is much more likely that their answers were more moderate than they actually believe. After all, you never know who may be listening.