There’s been a lot of buzz around the blogs about a recent Pew Research Poll (pdf) concerning the views of Muslim Americans with regards to terrorism and living in American society. The results are pretty interesting. The reactions by various bloggers seem to reveal sort of a glass half empty/full view on the whole thing. The most talked about statistic in this study is the fact that 26% of US Muslims aged 18-29 view suicide bombings as at least sometimes justified in defense of their faith. As you might imagine, this kind of stat raised a few eyebrows. Unfortunately, some blogs, like American Pundit, misread the data:
That’s more than 1/4 of all US Muslims between 18-29 years of age, who support suicide bombings, and say that they are always justified.
As you can see from the results, the 26% is simply the sum of those who feel the tactic is often/sometimes or rarely justified (not always):
Simple mistake? Maybe.
Your very professional newsmedia knows better, however. They use their j-school expertise to find the truly important stuff in the poll.
Let’s check the headlines, eh?
Wow! “Most!” Awesome!
Personally, I’m a little bit more worried about the 26% of young Muslim males who want to kill me, but it’s good to know that “most Muslims” seek to adopt the “American lifestyle.” (Which may or may not involve killing Americans.)
Um, no. That’s some pretty serious spin. Intellectually dishonest, actually.
While it is a bit unsettling to see any US Muslims say that suicide bombing is justified at all, I think this poll on the whole is encouraging. Given the fact that we haven’t really had any American Muslim suicide bombings in this country, I’d say all the hysterics coming from some of these blogs is more than a tad unwarranted.
Now, I realize that people on all sides are going to look at this and use it to justify their preconceived notions one way or another. I guess I’m just calling on my fellow bloggers to show a little more objectivity and not resort to spouting untruths or dramatics when analyzing this data. These are fellow Americans we are talking about here, after all. Fellow citizens that, as the USA Today put it, “seek to adopt American lifestyle”.
Update: One prominent Muslim reformer reacts to the survey, in a very thoughtful op-ed in the WSJ: How to End ‘Islamophobia’ The latest survey of American Muslims won’t reassure their fellow citizens.