Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Fact Checking Sally Kohn

One cannot be faulted for not knowing who Sally Kohn is. For those that need an update, Sally Kohn is basically an off-brand Rachel Maddow. Kohn makes up for her lack of charm by being edgy and "factual" on Twitter.

One of these facts was shared recently:

The article, titled "Muslims Are Not Terrorists: A Factual Look at Terrorism and Islam" is filled with the usual falsehoods about Islam that have already been debunked. But let's go over all of them again, for Sally's sake.

The "facts":
1. Non-Muslims make up the majority of terrorists in the United States: According to the FBI, 94% of terrorist attacks carried out in the United States from 1980 to 2005 have been by non-Muslims. This means that an American terrorist suspect is over nine times more likely to be a non-Muslim than a Muslim. According to this same report, there were more Jewish acts of terrorism in the United States than Islamic, yet when was the last time we heard about the threat of Jewish terrorism in the media? For the same exact reasons that we cannot blame the entire religion of Judaism or Christianity for the violent actions of those carrying out crimes under the names of these religions, we have absolutely no justifiable grounds to blame Muslims for terrorism.

Absurd. As explained before, the data treats 9/11 as a single event - and every eco-terrorist "attack" occurring on different days as multiple events. Perhaps Sally Kohn believes Greenpeace is more threatening than al-Qaeda!

2. Non-Muslims make up the majority of terrorists in Europe: There have been over one thousand terrorist attacks in Europe in the past five years. Take a guess at what percent of those terrorists were Muslim. Wrong, now guess again. It’s less than 2%.

Absurd for several reasons. If one follows the links from HuffPo to ThinkProgress to finally the EU paper cited, the data clearly does not come out in Islam's favor. For example, the Islamist attacks of recent memory managed to kill fifty-five times more people than all of the 152 "attacks" by non-muslims in 2013. Furthermore, the wishful figures do not include any analysis of arrest rates, which has been increasing for religiously motivated terrorists and decreasing for every other group.

To add insult to injury - like many of the figures cited about the United States, the European figures do not even bother counting deaths of Europeans killed by Islamists outside of Europe.

3. Even if all terrorist attacks were carried out by Muslims, you still could not associate terrorism with Islam: There have been 140,000 terror attacks committed worldwide since 1970. Even if Muslims carried out all of these attacks (which is an absurd assumption given the fact mentioned in my first point), those terrorists would represent less than 0.00009 percent of all Muslims. To put things into perspective, this means that you are more likely to be struck by lightening in your lifetime than a Muslim is likely to commit a terrorist attack during that same timespan.

Absurd.  Think of the conclusion of this. Essentially, the argument is that Islam could be responsible for all terrorism, and presumably also all FGM, polygamy, domestic violence, etc - yet still be blameless due to some entirely unexplained population-based moral reasoning. It's completely nonsense.

If one still accepts the premise anyways, applying the appropriate data controls results in a vastly different number. In the case of Belgium, as high as 1% of muslim men between 20 and 29 years old may have left to fight in Syria/Iraq. This is appropriate filter of those that have means and opportunity - Molenbeek does not become less of a problem simply because a HuffingtonPost blogger decided to put all the senior citizens in Indonesia in their chart.

4. If all Muslims are terrorists, then all Muslims are peacemakers: The same statistical assumptions being used to falsely portray Muslims as violent people can be used more accurately to portray Muslims as peaceful people. If all Muslims are terrorists because a single digit percentage of terrorists happen to be Muslim, then all Muslims are peacemakers because 5 out of the past 12 Nobel Peace Prize winners (42 percent) have been Muslims.

Absurd. Literally every muslim country on the planet is embroiled in conflict, and the problem is so dire that Nobel prizes are given to anybody that is willing to put down a gun or fortunately managed to survive an assassination attempt. If this makes one a peacemaker, then anyone that manages to at least keep the entrance of their apartment clean is then an impeccable homemaker.

5. If you are scared of Muslims then you should also be scared of household furniture and toddlers: A study carried out by the University of North Carolina showed that less than 0.0002% of Americans killed since 9/11 were killed by Muslims. (Ironically, this study was done in Chapel Hill: the same place where a Caucasian non-Muslim killed three innocent Muslims as the mainstream media brushed this terrorist attack off as a parking dispute). Based on these numbers, and those of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the average American is more likely to be crushed to death by their couch or television than they are to be killed by a Muslim. As a matter of fact, Americans were more likely to be killed by a toddler in 2013 than they were by a so-called “Muslim terrorist”.
When a drunk driver causes a car accident, we never blame the car manufacturer for the violent actions of that driver. This is because we understand that we cannot blame an entire car company that produces millions of safe vehicles just because one of their cars was hijacked by a reckless person who used it to cause harm. So what right do we have to blame an entire religion of over 1.6 Billion peaceful people because of the actions of a relatively insignificant few?

Pure ignorance. It's offensive, insulting and crazy to believe that Islamism isn't a problem until it approaches the accidental death rate in a country of 300 million people. Imagine if the Pope made an apologetic speech - "Things are bad, but statistically speaking your child is far more likely to be hit by a car than be raped by a priest." Truly winning hearts and minds.

Thankfully the United States is a very safe country - because it has a functioning government. Americans are more likely to be killed in mundane ways simply because the Department of Homeland Security and other organizations are at least somewhat effective. If planes, trains, drugs, automobiles, alcohol, chicken wings and toddlers happen to kill more people than Islamists, then please do call the NTSB, DEA, ATF, CPSC, FDA and CDC. It is the entire reason these organizations exist.

Americans may be Islamophobes or not - but let's not pretend that Americans are not also Salmonellaophobes. Recall that United States is ready to close borders and quarantine all the nurses just as soon as anyone says the word "ebola".

If Americans put focus on Islamism as they put on other issues, one would need to be 21 years old to enter a mosque. Chris Hansen would be asking catfished jihadis to have a seat. It is ultimately foolish to make the comparison between Islamism and "the real issues" when one does not fully grasp how much effort is put into "the real issues".

Muslims should be thanking Allah and all his silly prophets that they not treated like casual marijuana users. For it's comedy that while it's legal to circumcise one's sons and force women to wear uniforms, it's a very serious crime to sample cannabis.

Let's simply treat Islam as if it were an adult Justin Bieber. Irresponsible, narcissistic, and given too many excuses.

Is that so hard?


  1. "Literally every muslim country on the planet is embroiled in conflict"

    What? Just what?

    Here is a map of countries in the world with ongoing armed conflicts:

    Even if we consider countries with "skirmishes and clashes that kill less than 100 people a year" to be "at conflict," there are still plenty of Muslim-majority countries that aren't at conflict. Just to name a few: Albania, Morocco, Malaysia, Jordan, Oman, Mauritania, Senegal, and Kazakhstan.

    If we use a more sensible definition and only consider conflicts that kill at least 1,000 people in a year, then only about 10 out of the 50 Muslim-majority countries in the world are in conflict. That's terrible, but to say that "ever Muslim country in the world is in conflict" is still beyond ridiculous.

    "In the case of Belgium, as high as 1% of muslim men between 20 and 29 years old may have left to fight in Syria/Iraq."

    Your calculations assume that Belgian Muslims have the same age distribution as the general Belgium population. Given that A) many Belgian Muslims are immigrants and B) Belgian Muslims have a higher birth rate than non-Muslim Belgians, that is almost certainly incorrect.

    Also, given that 2/3 of American and 31% of British Islamic terrorists have been converts (, it seems likely that a significant portion of Belgian ISIS fighters weren't Muslim before they joined ISIS.

    1. Correction: make that "only 9 out of the 50 Muslim-majority countries in the world are in conflict." For some reason, I forgot that Ukraine wasn't a Muslim-majority country.

    2. thank you for these comments, you're correct on many points, I reply here:

  2. You are a big jerk "Let's simply treat Islam as if it were an adult Justin Bieber. Irresponsible, narcissistic, and given too many excuses" Are you out of your mind?!? You just stereotyped every single Muslim in the entire world. You clearly have no respect for a good chunk of the world's population. You should think about these people's rights, at least in America, like the First Amendment. and that most of them are no different than any of us. If you are a legal American citizen, I think I can safely bet that you voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 Presidential Election, you are white, and your parents have/had the same views you have. You should rethink your view on this, and don't make such great assumptions. It's wrong and, quite frankly, stupid.