Andrew Gelman of Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science brings us the “(Worst) graph of the year.”
It’s a graph that purports to show the tendency toward violent militancy of “pious and devout” believers from various world religions. Which is to say it’s a piece of execrable BS tossed together by anti-Muslim bigots who suckered the FBI into paying them for this nonsense.
No, really, the Federal Bureau of Investigation paid for this in the name of “counter-terrorism” training.
I’m sort of amazed to see pious and devout Christians listed as being maximally violent at the beginning. Huh? I thought Christ was supposed to be a nonviolent, mellow dude. The line starts at 3 B.C., implying that baby Jesus was at the extreme of violence.
The chart shows Christianity progressing in a straight line from “violent” to “nonviolent” — a 45-degree upward slope with no regression or variation. No Crusades, no Thirty Years War, no Colonial genocides, no American slavery — just a linear progression from the vicious brutality of the original 12 apostle-terrorists on up until the current papacy of John Howard Yoder.
This is all supposedly in contrast to Islam which, as the chart notes, is some six centuries younger than Christianity. Just for fun, think about the violence and constant warring within Christianity six centuries ago. This was a time when Christian nations and competing Christian popes were waging total war against one another. The closest thing to a peace plan anyone in Christendom had at the time was to organize crusades against the infidels just to give the devout and pious Christian knights something to do besides plunder and pillage their own kingdoms. The most violent extremist fringe of any religion in the contemporary world can’t even begin to rival the warlike brutality that defined Christianity 600 years ago, and for centuries before and after that time. Yet that half-millennium of constant, brutal war and atrocity is shown on the ridiculous graph above as a linear progression toward nonviolence.
The FBI isn’t just treading on thin legal ice by portraying ordinary, observant Americans as terrorists-in-waiting, former counterterrorism agents say. It’s also playing into al-Qaida’s hands.
Focusing on the religious behavior of American citizens instead of proven indicators of criminal activity like stockpiling guns or using shady financing makes it more likely that the FBI will miss the real warning signs of terrorism. And depicting Islam as inseparable from political violence is exactly the narrative al-Qaida spins — as is the related idea that America and Islam are necessarily in conflict. That’s why FBI whistleblowers provided Danger Room with these materials.
Consider this one more piece of evidence that the choice to embrace bigotry is also a choice to embrace stupidity.
Since we began with one graphic, let’s conclude with a second: