Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Yes, I'm Afraid Lots of Muslims Do Hate the US

The circus of ridiculously ignorant commentary surrounding Donald Trump's recent statements that "Islam hates us [i.e. America]" continues apace.

In a piece at Christian Today, Harry Farley, a "junior staff writer" (obviously not ready for the big time yet), claims that Trump's assertions have been "discredited" by research that was published before the Republican frontrunner even made them.

Farley claims that the study by the Pew Research Centre shows that "there is little anti-American sentiment in Muslim countries." But actually it does not bear this out at all.

The piece says:

Countries such as Burkina Faso and Senegal, which have an overwhelming Muslim population, view the USA favourably (80 per cent and 79 per cent respectively), the 2015 research showed.  
Indonesia, which has the largest Muslim population in the world, has a broadly positive opinion of America with 62 per cent saying they viewed the country favourably. 
Muslim countries in the Middle East tend to have more negative views of the US with 83 per cent of those in Jordan and 70 per cent in Palestine viewing America unfavourably. However there has been a "gradual rise in positive sentiment since President Barack Obama came to power"...

That's great and all, but the problem with it is that Donald Trump was speaking about this in the context of its implications for Muslim immigration into the US, and the likelihood that Muslim immigrants will bring hatred of America with them. And the majority of America's Muslim immigrants are not coming from Burkina Faso or Senegal. Of the countries contributing the most foreign-born immigrants to the United States, the most common Muslim-majority countries are Iran, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iraq and Egypt.

Assuming the research in question refers to this study from June 2015 (the numbers look similar), four of those five countries were not even part of the research, and hence have no results, while the one that is - Pakistan - has a 62% unfavourability rating towards the US. Almost every Muslim country on the Pew list has a significantly higher unfavourability rating than the median across the board, which was 24%. If we are generous, and assume that the absent Muslim countries that provide the bulk of Muslim immigration to the US all have ratings in line with the median, instead of much higher, then this means that in Iran, there are almost 18 million Muslims who have an unfavourable view of America, over 33 million in Bangladesh, over 7.5 million in Iraq, and almost 18 million in Egypt.

Should Americans therefore be concerned about how many of these people might end up coming to the United States? Many would say so, and they wouldn't necessarily have to be Donald Trump supporters to believe that.

The biggest blunder Farley makes is in the final sentence, when he attempts to soothe us about the huge amount of anti-American hatred in Pakistan by reminding us that "Pew data pointed to anti-American feeling spiking around key political events. In Pakistan it spiked in 2011, the year a US raid killed Osama Bin Laden."

Aren't you comforted to know that when America killed the evil terrorist mass murderer Osama bin Laden, the first reaction of Pakistani Muslims was to be angry at America?

Overall, the entire focus of this article is overwhelmingly stupid. Donald Trump's remarks were characteristically crude and non-specific, but he was careful to say that no one really knows the extent of the anti-American sentiment among Muslims entering the United States. He certainly did not say it was a majority, which means that the Christian Today piece is debunking a claim that no one ever made. The article also ignores the massive numbers involved even in minority amounts that might have unfavourable views of the US, and makes no mention of the hatred that is inculcated in the Qur'an itself - something that Donald Trump has at least shown a dim awareness of.

In other words, just par for the course in media "analysis" of Islam these days.

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