Jonah, it’s true that that poll of US Muslims is less bad news than equivalent polls in Britain and Europe. But the net effect is the same: If 26% of America’s “Muslim youth” (and the age of 30 isn’t all that youthful) believe suicide bombing can be justified, that provides a huge comfort zone for the jihad to operate in.
And saying, well, most of the 26% just have the jihad fever in a purely rhetorical sense – they may sound off about Jews and infidels and whatnot when they’re with their pals, but they’re not going to act on it – only makes it harder for the broader community to distinguish between pseudo-jihad machismo and the real thing. Judging from the media coverage, America is as anxious to normalize that 26% as Sweden’s Chancellor of Justice was when he closed down an investigation into the Grand Mosque of Stockholm on the grounds that calls to go forth and kill “the brothers of pigs and apes” – i.e. you know who – were part of what he called “the everyday climate in the rhetoric that surrounds this conflict”. In other words, if you threaten to kill people often enough, it will be seen as part of your vibrant rich cultural tradition – and, by definition, we’re all cool with that. That provides very useful cover for serious mischief makers.
Also, note the same trend as in Europe: second and third generation Muslims, the ones born or at least raised in the west, the ones most at ease with pop culture et al and with no real memory of life in Yemen or Pakistan, are the ones most prone to radical pan-Islamist ideology. And what went unasked in the poll is how many sympathize not with the jihad’s means but with the end: that is, how many of them wish ultimately to live under Islamic law in an Islamic States of America. In Britain, depending on how the question’s phrased, 40-60% want to.
On the other hand, I was heartened to discover that 40% of US Muslims think there were no Arabs involved in 9/11. You couldn’t hold the number down that low if you polled American college faculties.