December 9, 2022

Chapel Hill: No wonder others don’t get the Muslim and Ex-Muslim Community

Even in the atheist community that prides itself on intellectualism, we often speak for and even instead of Muslims and Ex-Muslims. We have a listening problem.  Sadaf Ali, who helped found Ex-Muslims of North Americanails it…

Mostly likely they have the answer to your questions.
Mostly likely they have the answer to your questions.

When we launched EXMNA, we saw several major events and issues within Muslim communities and harmful forms of Islamism, globally, get covered by the news and media outlets. Every time something happened, Dawkins, Harris and Maher were the only people that received attention and ended up representing not only atheists but issues regarding Muslims and Islam almost every single time. And if it wasn’t an atheist that spoke up, it was apologists like Rula Jebreal who thinks one can easily be gay in Gaza and Reza Aslan who believes no ill can come from various Islamic ideologies and several other incorrect statements about Islam and Muslims.

Before 3 muslim students were murdered by an avowed anti-theist ostensibly over parking, the most recent and widely publicized exchange of ideas on Islamic extremism was between three white American men: Bill Maher, Sam Harris, and Ben Affleck.  Maher framed the topic as criticizing Islam as an important liberal ideal of free speech.

Never mind, for the moment that there wasn’t a Muslim or Ex-Muslim on the panel that represented a large following of Muslims opposed to violent extremism. Both Maher and Harris,  framed the discussions of Muslims worldwide as led by violent extremists and tacitly supported by the majority of Muslims.

From the transcript speaking of billions of Muslims worldwide:

MAHER: All these billion people don’t hold these pernicious beliefs?

AFFLECK: They don’t.

MAHER: That’s just not true, Ben. That’s just not true. You’re trying to say that these few people, that’s all the problem is, these few bad apples. The idea that someone should be killed if they leave the Islamic

AFFLECK: That’s horrible.

MAHER: But you’re saying the idea that someone should be killed if they leave the Islamic religion is just a few bad apples?

AFFLECK: The people who would actually believe in that you murder someone if they leave Islam is not the majority of Muslims at all…

SAM HARRIS: Just imagine you have some concentric circles. You have at the center, you have jihadists, these are people who wake up wanting to kill apostates, wanting to die trying. They believe in paradise, they believe in martyrdom. Outside of them, we have Islamists, these are people who are just as convinced of martyrdom and paradise and wanting to foist their religion on the rest of humanity but they want to work within the system. They’re not going to blow themselves up on a bus. They want to change governments, they want to use democracy against itself. Those two circles arguably are 20% of the Muslim world.

BEN AFFLECK: What are you basing that research on?

HARRIS: There are a bunch of poll results that we can talk about. To give you one point of contact: 78% of British Muslims think that the Danish cartoonist should have been prosecuted. 78%. So, I’m being conservative when I roll this back to 20%. But outside of that circle you have conservative Muslims who can honestly look at ISIS and say that does not represent us, we’re horrified by that but they hold views about human rights, and about women, and about homosexuals that are deeply troubling. So, these are not Islamists, they are not jihadists, but they often keep women and homosexuals immiserated in these cultures and we have to empower the true reformers in the Muslim world to change it. And lying about doctrine and this behavior is not going to do that…

In the wake of the Chapel Hill murders, critics like Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig of New Republic, are asking if atheists and “New Atheists” under the leadership the Four Horseman have been given a “wake up call” by the incident. Ali points out that Heina Dadabhoy, who also blogs at Freethoughtblogs, had an opportunity to address this criticism:

Heina Dadabhoy, another fellow activist and writer, participated in a HuffPost Live segment, “Is Chapel Hill Shooting An Atheist Wake Up Call?” with Elizabeth Stoker Breunig, a staff writer atThe New Republic. Heina explicitly addressed how people outside of the atheist movement look to white males as authorities on atheism (3:05 into the clip). She even pointed out how Elizabeth had done the same thing in her article “The Chapel Hill Murders Should Be a Wake-Up Call for Atheists”. Elizabeth only mentions white male figures and disregards all other atheist and secular figures. What about the ex-Muslims that have been working tirelessly to shape the dialogue around Islam and Muslim issues? Where’s our say?

Which is in a nutshell why the atheist and/or even the progressive, liberal community really doesn’t get where Muslims and ex-Muslims are coming from, because they oftentimes don’t ask them.

Not just atheist leaders that media ask about issues related to Islam. The media often doesn’t invite Muslims to the discussion, who advocate for large groups of Muslims interested in peaceful and nonviolent resolutions. There surely wasn’t a Muslim representative on the Maher panel.

It isn’t because there is a dearth of well informed Muslims and Ex-Muslims on this topic as the existence of EXMNA demonstrates. It is possible that the same atheists speak because that is who the media asks, but that doesn’t stop those same people from suggesting a better informed person to the panel or giving them a voice on their platform. For that reason, I urged my husband Aron Ra to include members of the ex-Muslim community when he discussed Islam on his youtube channel.

Most importantly that doubles the responsibility of these same people to get it right. For no God’s sake, ask someone who has a different or better informed opinion, before you speak on a community you are not a member of.

What about how Maher references Ayaan Hirsi Ali then? That is part of the root of the problem as Sadaf Ali says:

When our work and ideas align with theirs, they will co-opt our work and our dialogues and we are rarely given recognition for what we do to foster change. When they want to say something about Muslims and Islam, atheists and secular organizations will only support us and work with us when they don’t want to appear racist. When it comes to conservative and right-wing supporters, they will use ex-Muslims (like Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Ibn Warraq) to support their hate for Islam, racist and anti-immigrant policies, etc.

Maher will cite Ayaan Hirsi Ali to support his contention that the Muslim ideas that most people support are “pernicious”, and calls on Harris to support his claims. Yet, he doesn’t call on anyone to represent the millions of Muslims, who don’t support extremist violence and terrorism.

Why should that matter to atheists, who reject religious beliefs especially because there are violent beliefs sanctified by the Koran?

It’s really very simple.  There are violent beliefs sanctified by the Bible and Torah as well. Even on Maher’s panel there is the mistaken belief that Christianity and Judaism have educated themselves beyond the brutality in their sacred texts.

This is one of many accounts of an ex-Israeli soldier that was ordered to kill 6 unarmed Palestinian checkpoint guards in retaliation for terrorism from an unknown source:

 All of a sudden our staff officer comes from some two-minute briefing, says, “Listen, this is the briefing . . . we’re doing . . . it’s a revenge operation. We’re going to eliminate six Palestinian policemen at a checkpoint. It’s in revenge for the six they took from us.” That’s the story I want to get at. It was on 443: if you, you cross toward Area A there are . . . there are, like, four transfer posts, and the Palestinian police oversee them. They sent us, along with the paratrooper patrol company, or the paratrooper auxiliary company and someone else, to just, like, eliminate all the Palestinian police there. Right? And the briefing was maybe two minutes. It was defined as, like, revenge, and at the time when I hesitated, like I asked, “What did they do? Who are they?” They said they’re Palestinian police. I said, “What did they do?” They said, “There’s suspicion that the terrorist who killed the six came through that checkpoint.” There’s suspicion, but they don’t know for sure. It could be one of those posts, but they said, “It doesn’t matter, they took six of ours, we’re going to take six back.”

And Newsflash Christian extremist violence hasn’t been educated out of existence either. Whenever there is a new ISIS execution, my social feed lights up with atheists talking about how backward Muslims are in comparison to Christianity. All of the violence done in the name of Abrahamic religions are rooted in an extremist interpretation of violent scriptures. There is no exception for the religion of your birth or its allies, which makes damning one, as if they have the only extremists over the other, silly.

All of this nuance is often absent from discussions of Islamic extremism. If Maher were to host a panel on child witch burning in Nigeria, no one on the panel would make the case that most Christians endorse it. Non-Mormon Christians can even see obscure nuance between Mormons and the FLDS leaders like Warren Jeffs. I seriously doubt Maher would make a case that all Mormons are child raping polygamists, or tacitly endorse the practice though there is support for it in Mormon scripture and history.

The simple reason why is because he is familiar with Christianity and it sects. He may know Mormons.  The Mormons I trained with in the Army were some of the nicest people I have ever known. That is the key here, I can speak from experience and thus knowledge. And again, why inviting Muslims and Ex-Muslims with a diversity of opinions should be obvious. Realistically inviting someone like Harris to the discussion gets ratings and perhaps gravitas, but there is no requirement you can’t invite both.

Although, prominent atheists don’t advocate violence, and it is not known whether Chapel Hill resulted from extreme Islamophobia and/or anti-theism, if prominent atheists need any wake up call it’s to stop putting forth arguments that add to the stereotyping of millions of innocent Muslims, ex-Muslims, and others like Sikhs that people ignorantly mistake for Muslims.

Muslims like  Yusor Abu-Salha, her sister Razan Abu-Salha and her husband Deah Baraka. Deah had meant to travel to Jordan to help refugees from ISIS with dental aid. All the effort of their Muslim families and community to raise these young people to be caring, compassionate human beings wasted by a self righteous bully over the most trivial reasons. As atheists, we don’t believe in heaven, so that should make the waste of a human life that much more grievous for the those of us with any vestige of humanity.

That is what atheist leaders can lose sight of when they don’t bother to listen to fellow human beings. No one should need to be reminded to not to trample over the humanity of individuals in the rush to blanket condemn religious extremism. That is what dehumanization by Islamophobic rhetoric does; it makes crimes like Chapel Hill possible.

27 thoughts on “Chapel Hill: No wonder others don’t get the Muslim and Ex-Muslim Community

  1. OK SOME PEOPLE are better actors than the hateful BS of their moral code.

    So individually I can accept some as being nice. But as a group I will never trust them at all except as aholes willing to force me either thru law or the power of the sword to live THEIR WAY!!!

    When their so called moral code says ‘kill the gay’ ‘if your brother tries to convert you then stone him’ and other such wonderful moral guides, then they are never to be trusted to do right. If their books o’BS want to say stupid schite like don’t mix fabrics, that’s OK if putting a string around the area makes that your home and you think your gawd is that stupid, OK.

    Despite what so-called hypocritical moderates claim about their interpretations, until their moral books o’BS are changed to eliminate the hate, fear, bigotry, & permissions for killing, I will never trust them in a group larger than 1. I have read history and seen what is now going on, so don’t try telling me how nice these people are, they aren’t!

    Yes the killing of the 3 muslins was terrible for almost any reason, and it was crazy to do so for a parking space or even for being isLame, but that dos not change the fact that their source of moral code is a pile of crap used by many to help justify horrible acts of violence.

  2. I am an ex Muslim and I speak for myself only. To say that the Chapel Hill shooting is a “wake up call” to atheists while the politicians keep telling us the actions of IS have “nothing to do with Islam” is not just silly, it is insulting to our collective intelligence. If a hundredth of the calls to violence that you find the Koran (and are cited by Islamists as justification for violence) were ever found in a book by Richard Dawkins or Sam Harris it would be banned as hate literature. I am yet to see one Muslim organization condemning the acts of IS to proclaim the incitement of violence in the Koran exists but is outdated. Check this out if you want to see how absurd this “wake up call” is.

    https://khabaristantimes.com/world/moderate-atheists-claim-anti-theist-chappel-hill-killer-took-the-god-delusion-out-of-context/

    1. Hello,

      First I agree with you the texts of all Abrahamic religions have scriptures that promote violence. However, there are millions of nonviolent religious people including Muslims. I named an Ex-Muslim group in the post. Sadaf Ali reaches out to the media and they turn her down. Is it really possible that people like the victim Deah don’t condemn the violence when they provide aid to its victims? Don’t you think that atheists can do a better job of not stereotyping all Muslims as violent extremists or fine with extremism?

  3. “That is the key here, I can speak from experience and thus knowledge.”

    Circa seven billion other people around the globe can, and do, use the same assertion. Those who’ve learnt critical thinking skills well know the logical fallacy of using personal experience to trump empirical evidence. This article seems to clearly show a dire lack of accurate knowledge regarding the religions which are addressed.

    The plural of anecdote is anecdotes, it is not data.

    1. No. Pete. I can say that I know Mormons, who aren’t extremists like FLDS from experience. I am not making a statistical claim. That is why I won’t make a claim like that.

      However, Harris and Maher make claims about Muslims, a culture they have limited experience with. I would have difficulty claiming knowledge with certainty of English culture even though I share the same language and watch their entertainment. I wasn’t raised there and I would ask someone who was if I was going to support a claim as to what their culture is like as people often do about Muslims.

      1. Lilandra, thanks for your reply. My expertise is in a very few areas of applied science. I gained this expertise by painstakingly studying the core principles then putting them into practice over the decades. Of course, during my career I collaborated with more than one thousand professionals — some had education in similar fields, but most had solid foundations in very different fields of applied science. The one core principle that we all had in common was to demand empirical evidence during both our disputes or our agreements.

        You stated: “However, Harris and Maher make claims about Muslims, a culture they have limited experience with.” How do you know this to be true and what objective relevance does it have? I’ve have a great of experience with both religionists and alt-med practitioners, but my experience with them is largely irrelevant because their core tenets range from mildly amusing to outright dangerous. What you seem to be saying is equivalent to: Person X has limited experience with the culture who vociferously oppose vaccination therefore the writings of person X, whom understands the science and efficacy of vaccination, are easily dismissible.

        Being an atheist, I consider myself extremely fortunate to have wonderful friends who are profoundly strong adherents to their various religions. I could write an article that depicted them in a positive, neutral, or negative light, but I would never write such an article because doing so would be to deliberately sweep both the absurdity and danger of their core tenets under the carpet.

        Carl Sagan, Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Peter Boghossian, and many others actually bothered to painstakingly study what they write and speak about for the sole purpose of educating the general public. I try my best to follow their examples; I implore you to do likewise.

        1. Pete what is your problem with asking Ex-Muslims to speak on Islam rather than calling on the same atheists, who lack experience with Muslim culture?

          All of your appeal to your authority on other matters and your appeal to the authority of Dawkins, Harris, and you even invoked Sagan have nothing to do with the point being made here. We’re not playing Pokemon here you can’t invoke authorities who aren’t authorities on the matter at hand and have them fight your battle. Answer the original question or go discuss pedigrees unrelated to the matter at hand in a forum that is impressed by that.

          1. Obviously, you do not begin to comprehend the difference between the logical fallacy of an Appeal to Authority and the appeal to expertise that is essential to critical thinking, science, and medicine.

            Please inform us as to the real reason why you are reacting so defensively to our comments on your article.

          2. @Pete

            Clearly you totally missed what Lilandra was saying about the appeal to authority. Asking Dawkins, Hitchens, or Sagan about their respective fields of expertise is not in any way analogous to asking Harris or Maher about Islamic culture. And you saying “well, how do you know they AREN’T experts on Islamic culture?” is just inane.

            What you seem to be saying is equivalent to: Person X has limited experience with the culture who vociferously oppose vaccination therefore the writings of person X, whom understands the science and efficacy of vaccination, are easily dismissible

            This is just a complete failure on your part to understand the difference between understanding a hard science and studying or critically experiencing a culture, as sociology is not a hard science. Are Harris or Maher sociologists who have done professional work concerning Islamic culture? Then your analogy fails.

  4. Even as you argue that atheists should not be speaking for Muslims/Ex-Muslims, you and Ben Affleck seem to be trying your level best to do just that. You admonish Maher, et al, for not inviting (your assumption) someone to speak for Muslims/Ex-Muslims, but you didn’t criticize Ben Affleck for presuming to speak for Muslims.

    You advised people to “ask someone who has a different or better informed opinion, before you speak on a community you are not a member of” as if Sam Harris has done no such thing. Harris referred to polls of Muslims and referred to a poll of British Muslims wherein 78% thought the Danish cartoonist should have been prosecuted. Prosecuting a cartoonist over a religiously offensive cartoon is a “pernicious” belief that appears to be shared by a significant majority of Muslims living in Britain. That information, if I understand the meaning of the term “poll”, was obtained by asking members of that community. Did Ben Affleck reference any evidence beyond anecdote before HE spoke on a community of which he is not a member?

    I’m sure Ben Affleck has met many Muslims and I wouldn’t even be surprised if every last one of them has been cordial and kind to him. How many of them do you think Ben Affleck asked their opinions of non-Muslims drawing cartoons of Muhammad, or the rights of homosexuals or women? How many Muslims has Ben Affleck asked how they feel about apostates? Between Affleck’s anecdotes and fury, and Harris’s reference to polls, are you suggesting we should favor the former?

    There are violent beliefs sanctified by the Bible and Torah as well. Even on Maher’s panel there is the mistaken belief that Christianity and Judaism have educated themselves beyond the brutality in their sacred texts.

    I’m literally looking at that quote on my screen shaking my head at such a poor apologia. Where do I start? You appear to suggest that all brutality committed by a member of a religious group is a result of that religion’s doctrines, if not accepted as an explicit commandment. If a man strikes a child with a rod, is there a difference between doing so out of anger and doing so as a religious commandment? If it’s done out of anger, do we not fault the man? If it’s done by religious command, do we not fault the man AND his religion? Likewise in the case of your story of the Israeli troops killing those Palestinian police at a checkpoint. Such a revenge killing is inexcusable and murder, but was it a religious command or was it an emotional reaction? But you go even deeper down this ridiculous path.

    If Maher were to host a panel on child witch burning in Nigeria, no one on the panel would make the case that most Christians endorse it.

    Unless they could reference some polls that suggest most Christians at least endorse the idea that child witches should be prosecuted and some significant minority support burning and a smaller minority would actually take part in the burning of child witches. IF there WERE such polls in existence, would you suggest that the polls be ignored in favor of anecdotes about the vast majority of Christians being kind and peaceful people?

    And then the final bit of enterprise quality fallacious rhetoric:

    No one should need to be reminded to not to trample over the humanity of individuals in the rush to blanket condemn religious extremism. That is what dehumanization by Islamophobic rhetoric does; it makes crimes like Chapel Hill possible.

    Sometimes it amazes me what thinking human beings allow themselves to say. Would you atheist community leaders here on FtB please get together and create a list for us laymen which religious extremism we’re allowed to condemn? It seems we should not condemn Islamic extremism, but we’re still allowed to condemn Jewish and Christian extremism. When Islamic extremists kill 164 people in Mumbai, we should follow the President’s example and simply refer to the attackers as “other peoples of faith”? Should we condemn the Chapel Hill murders as Atheist Extremism?

    1. That would be too simple to say gotcha you are speaking for Ex-Muslims. How about gotcha I quoted Ex-Muslims rather than speak for them? The rest is about how the rest of us message on the topic.

  5. Answer the question Pete, even if I were to cede you the point that Dawkins, Sagan , Harris have scientific reasoning skills and thus somehow are experts on Islam. (I don’t agree but don’t want to get bogged down), again:

    Pete what is your problem with asking Ex-Muslims to speak on Islam rather than calling on the same atheists, who lack experience with Muslim culture?

    1. Have you spent the same amount of time having dialogues with the experts I cited as you have with ex-Muslims? Have you spent many years properly studying many religions and totalitarian systems, particularly Islamism?

      Just in case anyone misunderstands those questions, they are rhetorical because it is blindingly obvious that you have not.

      Instead of wasting your time insinuating that I should f’off out of here, you are in dire need of properly answering the superb comment from JJLatFtB.

      Your replies to us thus far seem to align with:

      http://www.skepticink.com/avant-garde/2014/12/03/horseman-envy/

      1. No I am asking you to discuss the post you are commenting on. The question is the OP.

        What is your problem with asking Ex-Muslims to speak on Islam rather than calling on the same atheists, who lack experience with Muslim culture?

        1. As you haven’t yet learnt the extremely important difference between Islam and Islamism[1] there is simply no point in continuing this discussion. FFS, at least go learn the basics rather than living in the fairy tale domain of naivety, anecdotal evidence, wishful thinking, and freely criticising experts who you’ve never met.

          I don’t give a rat’s arse what you think of me because whatever you say will not even slightly affect my deep friendships with religionists and atheists.

          1. For readers who are interested in learning the difference:

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islam

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamism

        2. Pete isn’t saying there is any specific problem with asking ex-Muslims to speak. You are suggesting that there is a problem asking non-ex-Muslims to speak at the cost of the inclusion of ex-Muslims.

          Pete is denying that Harris, for example “lacks experience with Muslim culture” as you say, because Harris has spent a lot of time and effort studying Muslim culture. His point about expertise is that a person doesn’t need to be a Muslim to study Islam or to study Muslim culture. Understanding and citing evidence in the Koran doesn’t require believing that that evidence is divinely inspired. Interpreting the results of surveys presented in English to British Muslims doesn’t require being a member of the surveyed group.

          You are suggesting that people who aren’t Muslims can’t really understand anything about Muslims, or that having beliefs leads to some other kind of insight. But that is false. I can study the Koran and the Hadith, and I can study Muslim communities, and I can do so without subscribing to their beliefs. Now if I were to try to make claims about Muslim communities without looking them or asking them questions, then I would have no footing. But Harris cites a survey. That IS the best way to represent the views of that Muslim community. And it represents their views in a more objective way than any individual commentator, even from that community, could.

  6. @lilandra in OP

    I get the point of the post I think, and I think I agree with it. Sounds good to me. However, I fear I’m missing something. In context, what am I supposed to take away from the inclusion of the Affleck, Harris, Maher transcript? I don’t get it. I fear I’m missing some point. I get that Maher’s segment featured no actual ex-Muslims. I get that there are much more informed people that could be on the show making similar and better points, with much more nuance. I also agree that a majority of Muslims worldwide are against the brutality which 20% purport to want.

    1. From a writing standpoint, it was simply the bit about how they were framing the conversation around Muslims being violent or somehow approving it. I doubt it would be framed that way if there was an Ex-Muslim starting the discussion. It would be a bit like Maher introducing a discussion on pedophilia as being practiced and accepted by most of the Mormon Church. It wouldn’t happen because non-Muslim Americans understand the nuances of Christianity. Not so with Islam.

      1. Yeah, my position on this is slowly evolving, thanks to people like you. I’m beginning to recognize that I shouldn’t hold Muslims any more responsible for violence than random Catholics for the child rape protection of their church. Perhaps even less so because there are denominations of Islam which don’t preach violence. (AFAIK, such clergy are the minority, but meh.)

        PS: I still hold Catholics morally responsible in some small degree for enabling the church to exist and its crimes against humanity to continue, but they’re not monsters, and many of them even disagree with their church’ actions. Still, I have to at least internally hold them a little responsible for their continued allegiance and support for their church.

        It’s like Steven Weinburg said: Without religion, good people will do good, and evil people will do evil. But for good people to do evil? That takes religion. ~ Paraphrase. And of course it’s a little hyperbole.

        PPS: Sorry if that’s not what you wanted to hear, but it’s better than what I was before. Again, thanks.

  7. I doubt it would be framed [as Muslims being violent or somehow approving it] if there was an Ex-Muslim starting the discussion.

    How do you imagine the discussion would have been framed had it been started by an ex-Muslim? Do you think the ex-Muslim would have simply said that the texts of other religions also condone/promote violence? Do you really think that is the point that Harris is missing? I’m sure you have heard Harris acknowledge that fact and explain the differences, such as the reasons for the particular kinds and severity of violence, the quantity of such calls for violence, and the quantity of calls for peace and love.

    It would be a bit like Maher introducing a discussion on pedophilia as being practiced and accepted by most of the Mormon Church.

    Once again, this would be a valid point if Harris was just making unsupported assertions. In reality, the situation is more like, Maher introduces such a discussion and Affleck flies into a rage because he personally knows some Mormons and they’re all really nice people, but Harris responds referencing a poll that suggests that 78% of the Mormons in the US are accepting of certain pedophilia practices as prescribed in the Book in Mormon. If such data exists, it doesn’t matter how many Mormons you know until you have asked a significant number of the total Mormon population there feelings on marriage to underage girls.

  8. I once left a comment on one of Jaclyn Glenn’s videos about Islam. I said, “Why are people only paying attention to what white people who have never been Muslim have to say about Islam?” Needless to say, I got a lot of flack for that.

    1. I [once] said, “Why are people only paying attention to what white people who have never been Muslim have to say about Islam?” Needless to say, I got a lot of flack for that.

      That’s because it’s a diversionary tactic. Are you implying that if a Muslim got on stage and said the exact same thing you would accept it? Is that an appeal to authority or an ad hominem? It seems perfectly rational to doubt the existence of the referenced data or to doubt the interpretation of the data. But it is not rational to ignore the claim simply because it comes from someone you don’t like. However, I don’t think that is actually the case, that you’re discounting the claim because you dislike the person making. It sounds more like the claim is being denied because you don’t like the claim.

  9. Yeah I feel you. Harris characterizes 20 percent of the Muslim world of 1.5 billion people as terrorists or hardline supporters. That is 300,000,000 people if you do the math. The population of the U.S. is 319,000,000. So about as many people as a large country are terrorists or actively support terrorism?

    Yet I am the one being ridiculous or not understanding an important white dude with “scientific reasoning”?

    1. If you figure about 20 to 40% of the US population wants a fascist Christian theocracy, then the 20% Islam thing doesn’t seem that farfetched. It is also (mildly) supported by Pew opinion polls. However, I’ve been meaning to dig into those polls to check methodology.

    2. I dunno about that one, Lilandra. I have difficulties with sliding from ‘hard-line supporters of Sharia’ to ‘actively supporting terrorism’. This one gets all fugly and twisted, in trying to determine what those terms mean. Would you count the cheerleaders as actively supporting terrorism? There’s a lot of gray area in there.

      I don’t think Sam did a particularly good job of defining what he meant by that 20% group.

      I would tweak EL’s wording a little, though. Do I think that 20% to 40% of the US population wants a fascist, Christian theocracy? No. After all, fascism/Hitler/atheism, you know? 😀

      Are 20% to 40% of the US population supporting groups and movements that are lead by people who would like a fascist Christian theocracy? Probably. I haven’t looked at the hard numbers in a while, but that sounds about right.

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