Putting Islamic terrorism in perspective

Putting Islamic terrorism in perspective February 5, 2015

In response to my calling out other atheist bloggers for fear-mongering about Islam—specifically for hand-wringing about a poll which shows that 2 in 10 Muslim-Americans say violence against civilians can sometimes be justified, without ever putting it in the proper context by noting 6 out of 10 Catholics and Protestants and 5 out of 10 “nones” believe the same—a reader writes:

The concern is that it’s overwhelmingly Muslims who will act on those thoughts. I haven’t heard of any “nones” bombing anything recently, even when the “nones” apparently outnumber Muslims 50 times over in the US. The statistics still show that a tiny percent of the population can be much more harmful than other larger segments of the population.

At The Daily Beast, Dean Obeidallah has a fantastic response to views like this, as well as the asinine platitude that “not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslim.” He writes:

As Europol, the European Union’s law-enforcement agency, noted in its report released last year, the vast majority of terror attacks in Europe were perpetrated by separatist groups. For example, in 2013, there were 152 terror attacks in Europe. Only two of them were “religiously motivated,” while 84 were predicated upon ethno-nationalist or separatist beliefs.

We are talking about groups like France’s FLNC, which advocates an independent nation for the island of Corsica. In December 2013, FLNC terrorists carried out simultaneous rocket attacks against police stations in two French cities. And in Greece in late 2013, the left-wing Militant Popular Revolutionary Forces shot and killed two members of the right-wing political party Golden Dawn. While over in Italy, the anarchist group FAI engaged in numerous terror attacks including sending a bomb to a journalist. And the list goes on and on.

Have you heard of these incidents? Probably not. But if Muslims had committed them do you think you our media would’ve covered it? No need to answer, that’s a rhetorical question.

He goes on:

Back in the United States, the percentage of terror attacks committed by Muslims is almost as miniscule as in Europe. An FBI study looking at terrorism committed on U.S. soil between 1980 and 2005 found that 94 percent of the terror attacks were committed by non-Muslims. In actuality, 42 percent of terror attacks were carried out by Latino-related groups, followed by 24 percent perpetrated by extreme left-wing actors.

And as a 2014 study by University of North Carolina found, since the 9/11 attacks, Muslim-linked terrorism has claimed the lives of 37 Americans. In that same time period, more than 190,000 Americans were murdered (PDF).

In fact in 2013, it was actually more likely Americans would be killed by a toddler than a terrorist. In that year, three Americans were killed in the Boston Marathon bombing. How many people did toddlers kill in 2013? Five, all by accidentally shooting a gun.

But our media simply do not cover the non-Muslim terror attacks with same gusto. Why? It’s a business decision. Stories about scary “others” play better. It’s a story that can simply be framed as good versus evil with Americans being the good guy and the brown Muslim as the bad.

 

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