Thursday, September 9, 2010

"How Dangerous Are the Muslims?"

Messages of hatred against Muslims in the United States have come so thick and fast over the past few months, I hardly know where to begin addressing them. In Florida, a self-proclaimed "Christian minister" has turned his back on Our Savior's example of love, meekness, and humility to say that he'll lead a Koran-burning on September 11. In New York, narrow-minded people are freaking out over a Muslim-run community center that is nowhere within sight of the former site of the World Trade Center, yet they're calling it a "Ground Zero Mosque." It's nothing of the kind. (For Keith Olbermann's powerful response to this vicious slander, click here.)
Congressman Ron Paul perceptively said that the organizers of the anti-Muslim hate mongering, particularly the hysteria over the community center, is to "continue the hatred toward Islam rather than Al Qaeda in order to justify their foreign of intervention and nation building and occupation because, if you don't have an enemy that you despise, it's hard to get that support." (Click here.)
Elsewhere, a cab driver who was only trying to make an honest living and support his family was slashed repeatedly because he answered, "Yes," when asked if he were a Muslim. (Click here to see what the bigot did to this innocent man who wasn't much different from you or me.)
The Colbert Report successfully uses humor to ridicule the mentality of anti-Muslim bigotry, but Colbert also draws attention to how many acts of hatred have occurred in recent months. (Click here.)
Bigoted distortions about Muslims, here, [
Adapted from Dr. Peter Hammond's book Slavery, Terrorism and Islam: The Historical Roots and Contemporary] are designed to convince people that Muslims are innately dangerous. Specifically, people are supposed to fear for their lives if Muslims are "allowed" to increase as a percentage of the population. If the implications of all this is true, then there should be a direct correlation between murder rates and the percentage of Muslims found in a given population.
To test this assumption, I took the percentages given in the article making the accusations about Muslims and compared them to the "deliberate homicide" rate for the countries mentioned in the article. Considering the way some people thoughtlessly equate Islam with terrorism, hate mongers apparently expect us to be fearful of getting murdered. Taking this person's figures at face value, I compared them to actual murder rates from Wikipedia and I recorded the murder rates for all but the few countries not mentioned in those two sites.
As you can see from the chart below, there is no correlation between a country's murder rates and the percentages of Muslims in a country's population. As the percentage of Muslims in a country's population increases, the murder rate remains unchanged.
If you compare the bar graph below with the one below it, you'll see a difference between the third bars. That's because the unusually high murder rate in the island nation of Trinidad and Tobago was what is called an outlier. You'll see the same uncharacteristic jump in the line graph above. In the second bar graph, I removed the outlier for a more reliable comparison.

Below,you see the same bar graph with the outlier (Trinidad and Tobago) removed.
According to the anti-Muslim email message I received, some 0.6% of the people of the United States are Muslims, and 100% of the people of Yemen are Muslims. According to, the murder rates in the two countries are as follows: 4.2802 per 100,000 people for the United States, and 3.36276 per 100,000 for Yemen. The murder rate in Yemen is about three fourths the murder rate in the United States. That figure hardly supports the argument that Muslims are dangerous.
Let's look at it another way. Of the 62 countries listed in the NationMaster survey, the nations with the ten highest murder rates are, in order, Colombia (0.0% Muslim), South Africa (2.0%), Jamaica (0.0%), Venezuela (0.0%), Mexico (0.2%), Estonia (0.7%), Latvia (0.4%), Lithuania (0.1%), and Belarus (5%). The nations with the ten lowest murder rates, from lowest upward, are Qatar (100.0% Muslim), Saudi Arabia (100.0%, Japan (1.0%), Hong Kong (not actually a country but a colony of Beijing, 1.0%), Greece (1.3%), Indonesia (86.1%), Switzerland (3.1%), Ireland (2.0%), Norway (1.8%), and Denmark (2.0%).
Wikipedia (Click here.) gives a more comprehensive list, but the result is essentially the same: There's no correlation between Muslims and murder rates. On Wikipedia's list, the ten highest murder rates are found in El Salvador, Honduras, Jamaica, Guatemala, Venezuela, South Africa, Columbia, Belize, Brazil, and the Dominican Republic. The lowest murder rates (from the lowest up) are found in Liechtenstein, Iceland, Singapore, Japan, Hong Kong, Brunei, Morocco, Lebanon, Oman, and Algeria.
When you read the anti-Muslim email messages, they seem "reasonable." On closer examination, though, you'll find that they're not giving facts; they're giving general impressions. They serve only to create a sense of unease that may further be fed until it becomes hysteria.
A couple of generations ago, my classmates and I wondered how it was possible for our parents to have given in to the hysteria against Americans of Japanese ancestry. We wondered this even as we were giving in to the hysteria against black people who simply wanted the quality of education that the better-funded, predominantly white schools could provide.
H. L. Menckin once wrote something like, "History has proven that people don't learn from history." Please, in this generation, don't let it be true.


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