What Muslims think: and why do we care
November 30, 2015 8 Comments
This is definitely worth reading, and thinking about. So much of opinion is driven by polling (or is it, really, maybe polling is driven by something else as well). In any case, this highlights how easy it is to draw false conclusions from polling, especially when viewing filtered results.
Do you have sympathy with young Muslims who leave the UK to join fighters in Syria? It’s a hard question to answer: perhaps you’d wonder who the ‘fighters’ were. Or whether the ‘young Muslims’ were 14-year-old girls, groomed by fanatics to be jihadi brides. But if you answer ‘yes’, you may be surprised to find yourself described as having ‘sympathy for jihadis’. Such are the perils awaiting British Muslims who respond to opinion poll questions.
The Sun this week found itself in a row about a front-page headline: 1 IN 5 BRIT MUSLIMS’ SYMPATHY FOR JIHADIS. The poll, by Survation, had asked a rather different question: what level of ‘sympathy’ the respondents had ‘with young Muslims who leave the UK to join fighters in Syria’. A small proportion — 5 per cent — had ‘a lot of sympathy’, and 15 per cent had ‘some sympathy’. But sympathy lay with the young Brits, not the Isis jihadis — and there is a difference.
It’s the latest of many polls since 9/11 which ask Muslims if they have sympathy for the devil. Typically, these polls declare that a significant minority does. Even if just 5 per cent are found to entertain crazy ideas, it’s then argued, that amounts to 130,000 people. But what is seldom asked is: what about the non-Muslims? Given that you’ll find a significant minority agreeing with any crazy proposition — Elvis still being alive, light sabers being real — how much weight should we attach to the polls which purport to identify embryonic British jihadism? […]
Not so very long ago, Muslims were being left alone and Catholics were being asked whether they had sympathy with IRA attacks. Even in day-to-day politics, those with religious convictions are always interrogated about whether their faith clouds their judgment, while those with secular stances whose judgment may prove equally unsound are left alone. […]
If you torture the data for long enough, you can show anything. Any poll of any group in Britain will always find a small minority supporting the bizarre or the deplorable — that doesn’t make the whole group gullible, or crazy. And it certainly doesn’t mean that the average British Muslim harbours any sympathy for the Islamic State.
If you remember, it was Mark Twain you commented that “Figures don’t lie, but liars can figure”. Sometimes the lies are innocent and inadvertent, but sometimes they aren’t. And even innocent lies are not the truth, and we shouldn’t be navigating ships of state by them. I don’t know how British Moslems feel about IS, and they don’t either. Every one of us has a plethora of feelings and they vary from hour to hour depending on what we just watched, read, or happened in the world.
The answer for us, and for our countries as well, is to do what we think is right, and just, without regards to polls. We have the same right to exist, prosper, and be happy as anyone else, so there is no need to defer to lowlifes as ISIS. We deserve to live our lives in peace, and that is the first obligation of our governments, along with guaranteeing our freedom. It’s a hard job, but hey, they volunteered. And we’re paying them pretty well, too.