Friday, 10 March 2017

'All Terrorists are Muslims…Except the 94% that Aren’t'?




The following piece covers both the FBI definition of the word “terrorism”; as well as the statistics or percentages which flow from such a definition.

As for the title above: it was stolen from the Loonwatch website; though the same statistics have been cited by all sorts of other outlets (including CNN and Duke University). Indeed Loonwatch has another piece entitled 'Europol Report: All Terrorists are Muslims…Except the 99.6% that Aren’t', which deals with Europe, rather than the United States.

Stats/Percentages

The thing about an expert's citations of stats/percentages is that another expert - or even another twenty experts - could quite easily come along with just as many stats which work directly against all the positions and causes he's advancing. That's the thing about statistics – they can be made to say just about anything.

The fact is that Loonwatch, and to a lesser extent the FBI, are clearly using stats and definitions politically/ideologically. What I mean by that is that one can start off with a set of ideological/political positions (e.g., on Islamic terrorism, immigration, racism, employment, poverty, etc.), and then apply stats/percentages to them. The ideology/politics comes first and then the stats follow - they dress up or justify the political position.

This isn't an argument to the effect that “all statistics lie” or even that there's no place for statistics in political debate. It's just an argument for being sceptical about stats.

Definitions

It's certainly convenient to Loonwatch, Tell Mama, the Southern Poverty Law Center, CAIR, etc. that, according to the FBI, "[t]here is no single, universally accepted, definition of terrorism”. That way, the figures for “white”, “nationalist”, “Latino”, etc. terrorism can easily be notched up to equal - and then surpass – that of Islamic terrorism. Such is the neatness and usefulness of definitions... and statistics. Thus leaving a pig's head outside a mosque, for example, can be - and has been - classed as “terrorism” (in the UK at least). We can go further: verbal abuse could be classed as “terrorism”.

The upshot of the above is twofold:

i) The problem of Islamophobia can be exaggerated.
ii) The stats for non-Islamic terrorism can be increased.

Whatever the case may be, here's the FBI on the definition of terrorism:

"There is no single, universally accepted, definition of terrorism. Terrorism is defined in the Code of Federal Regulations as 'the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives'.”

Prima facie, the FBI's “definition of terrorism” is fantastically wide, as we've seen. Firstly, if “the unlawful use of force.... against... property” is included, then arson is terrorism. Not only arson, graffiti, smashed windows, etc. are also examples of terrorism.

Then there's “unlawful force” against “persons”. This too could include a single punch, spitting, etc. Perhaps even verbal abuse comes under this category.

The FBI is well aware - even if only implicitly - that its catch-all definition of terrorism isn't very helpful. Not only that: it fuses the mass killings of civilians with, say, smashed windows or arson.

This means that, according to the FBI, “acts committed by these extremists” (which “typically... targeted materials and facilities”) are included under the banner of “terrorism”. (Most of these attacks were committed by “animal rights and environmental movements”; as well as “Latinos”.)

Thus the Boston Marathon, the Bataclan, Nice and Hebdo are classed together with acts of arson and even window-smashing!

The FBI also mentions terrorism carried out under the banner of “right-wing extremism”. This includes “disruptions to plotting by individuals involved with the militia, white supremacist, constitutionalist and tax protestor, and anti-abortion movements”.

Yet, despite all the above, the FBI freely admits - again implicitly - that Islamic terrorism is often - or always! - very different to that which is carried out by non-Islamic groups and individuals.

Stats About Fatalities, Not Attacks

We could of course use stats about fatalities rather than terrorist attacks.

In that case, on the figures covered by both the FBI and Loonwatch, nearly all fatalities were from Islamic terrorism. Most people wounded were also wounded by Islamic terrorists.

On the other hand, there were 50 attacks by the Earth Liberation Front and the Animal Liberation Front. Those attacks resulted in no deaths and no injuries.

Islamic terrorists, on the other hand, deliberately target civilians. Separatist groups (such as ETA in Spain and France), for example, blow their bombs up at night. In addition, ETA's bombs are meant for government buildings, not for civilian areas/places.

Dates

The important thing to bear in mind is that these particular FBI reports (the ones cited by Loonwatch, CNN and others) cover the periods from 1980 to 2000 and from 2002 to 2005. In addition, they only deal with terrorism in the United States. (Though the FBI mentions other places which have suffered attacks.) Thus, if we come bang up to date, the reader will note the growing preponderance of Islam-related crimes. The following, for example, is from the FBI's website:

Terrorism News

02.24.2017 — Eleven Individuals Including Two Miami-Dade County Residents and One Company Charged with Exporting Prohibited Articles to Syria
02.21.2017 — Columbia Man Charged with Attempting to Aid Terrorists [i.e., Islamic terrorists].
02.17.2017 — Man Sentenced for Attempting to Provide Material Support to ISIL
02.17.2017 — Madison Man Sentenced to 10 Years for Attempting to Provide Material Support to ISIL
02.16.2017 — Inmate Charged with Mailing Threats, Powder to Federal Officials
02.15.2017 — Everett Man Alleged to Support ISIL Charged with Additional Charge of Obstructing Justice
02.14.2017 — Enrique Marquez Jr. Agrees to Plead Guilty to Plotting Violent Attacks and Buying Firearms for Shooter [Syed Rizwan Farook] in San Bernardino Terrorist Attack
02.10.2017 — Two New York City Residents [both Muslims] Plead Guilty to All Charges in Terrorism Case.”

And even if we accept both the FBI definition of terrorism and the figures which flow from it, we still need to bear in mind that that Muslims make up only 1.8% of the United States population, and yet they are responsible for 6% of the terrorism in that country. (That's if we accept Loonwatch's figure in the first place!)

On a broader, less stats-based, perspective, we also need to decide whether or not Islamic terrorists are currently a “clear and present danger”. When Loonwatch goes back to 1980 for stats, it is doing so to deliberately mislead its readers. Thus when Loonwatch also pens a piece entitled 'Is Sweden Invaded by “Muslim Rapists?”' (as it did just over a month ago), we know exactly what kind of dissimulations to expect.

Islam is peace and stats never lie...

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