While waiting to appear on CNN last night (an appearance which was, by any sane measure, a complete and total waste of my time), I watched a long segment on the new Pew poll of American Muslims. CNN booked two representatives of the Muslim community to deflate and disarm the poll. For example, guest host Kyra Phillips asked the woman from the Muslim Public Affairs Council, “Does it surprise you that 26 percent of Muslims here in the U.S. under the age of 30 believe that suicide bombings are justified?”
Edina Lekovic, of M-PAC responded:
“Well, let me tell you what doesn’t surprise me. It doesn’t surprise me that at least three-quarters oppose suicide bombing in all forms and see no justification for it whatsoever. The fact that there are, potentially, disenfranchised youth who express these viewpoints is a cause for concern.”
Nice! Someone’s had media training.
Take a look at the relentlessly positive Detroit News write-up of the same poll. I don’t object to reporting the fact that our Muslim community is more assimilated and less radicalized than similar communities in Europe and elsewhere. By all means, let’s hear about that. But isn’t the fact that 13% of American Muslims say suicide bombing of civilians is justifiable significant? Thirteen percent is a significant number. For example, blacks make up 13% of the U.S. population and I were to say blacks comprise a trivial share of our population, I think I’d hear about it. How about the fact that roughly 1-in-4 young Muslims are sympathetic to terrorism? The Detroit News — and countless other outlets, as Ace of Spades catalogs here — paint the findings in unremittingly positive light, even though not everything in the poll seems nearly so positive.
You can download the full Pew PDF here.