Gene Expression

Radical Muslims are similar to moderates

Foreign Policy has a interesting selection of charts. They show that “radicals” and “moderates” in the Muslim world are not that different. Below the fold is a chart which offers two facts

1) Radical Muslims are, on average, more educated than non-radical Muslims
2) Radical Muslims are, on average, more affluent than non-radical Muslims

Should this surprise? I don’t think so. Look to the history of the United Kingdom, Protestant radicalism took root in the highly literate environs of East Anglia. Health and wealth are often conducive to religious utopianism and reformation.

i-88ebe13b183d9159ca2fdbf65f56c30c-islamistsandnot.jpg

Comments

  1. #1 doctorgoo
    November 29, 2006

    My only problem with the linked article is that it doesn’t fully define what it means to be a Radical. Does it mean terrorist and terrorist sympathizers? Or does it refer to all Muslims who are merely Fundamentalists?

    To clarify my question, let me compare his classification of Muslims to how I would classify Christians: A Moderate (or perhaps liberal) Christian could be described as one who, among other things, is tolerant of other religions, accepts evolution as proper science, etc. A Fundamentalist Christian could be described as one who believes in a strictly literal interpretation of the Bible. And Extremist Christians would basically be those abortion clinic bombers, or others who can legitimately considered terrorists.

    So does the author of the linked article consider ‘radicals’ to be Extremist Muslims or both the Extremists and the Fundamentalists? My point is that without definitional clarifications, his numbers are quite meaningless.

  2. #2 oku
    November 29, 2006

    doctorgoo, their classification used is hidden on the last page:

    Respondents who said 9/11 was unjustified (1 or 2 on a 5-point scale, where 1 is totally unjustified and 5 is completely justified) are classified as moderates. Respondents who said 9/11 was justified (4 or 5 on the same scale) are classified as radicals.

  3. #3 doctorgoo
    November 29, 2006

    oops… my bad. Good catch oku. My only defense is that I’m usually (too) skeptical about how statistics are sometimes used and abused. As Twain wrote, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.”

    But now that I’m looking at these results through the correct set of filters, I’d just like to add to what Chet said. Not only is the common assumption that these radicals must be poor and uneducationed wrong, but the top thing we can do to make things better is to show respect for Islam.

    Unfortunately, it’s really tough to convince Fundamentalist Christians to do this. Too many of them exclusively equate Muslims with terrorists, and therefore have a distorted view of Islam in general. They somehow think that all Muslims hate and want to destroy America, so they feel justified in their hatred of all Muslims. So much for the Golden Rule or even just showing respect for the religious beliefs of others.

    FYI… I googled the authors and I found another link that has great editorials on this topic:

    http://explore.georgetown.edu/blogs/index.cfm?Action=ViewArchive&BlogID=40

  4. #4 Munda Kadia
    November 29, 2006

    I’m saying, my father thought the 9/11 attacks were justified, and he’s an athiest. A lot of my Brazillian friends, and Romanians and a lot of other ethnic groups thought they were justified, does it make them radicals? No, it just expresses their anger at America and America’s foreign policy. If Americans don’t get angry or don’t care frankly of American foreign policy and the death and suffering it incurs, then most of these people will think 9/11 is justified.

    I think they should’ve figured out what Muslims themselves think is “radical” or “extreme.” For example, the idea that innocents who are killed by “suicide bombing” will automatically go to heaven is extreme and un-Islamic to the utmost. You would’ve seen big differences between the red and blue bars on that issue.

  5. #5 chet snicker
    November 29, 2006

    You would’ve seen big differences between the red and blue bars on that issue.

    irrelevant as long as the rank order remains.

  6. #6 Munda Kadia
    November 29, 2006

    Explain what you mean. Why is it irrelevant?

  7. #7 chet snicker
    November 29, 2006

    Explain what you mean. Why is it irrelevant?

    the interesting point is not what proportion of muslims are nuts, the interesting point is that nuttiness might be positively proportional to increased SES. ‘interesting’ only because it confounds naive expectations, not because there isn’t a non-trivial amount of data or historical context which would lead us to expect this.

  8. #8 bengali
    November 29, 2006

    “Respondents who said 9/11 was unjustified (1 or 2 on a 5-point scale, where 1 is totally unjustified and 5 is completely justified) are classified as moderates. Respondents who said 9/11 was justified (4 or 5 on the same scale) are classified as radicals.”

    If that’s the metric they used to determine if a person is a ‘radical muslim’ then it is highly flawed study. The label ‘Radical Muslim‘ implies they are radical because of their Islamic beliefs, as opposed to their political beliefs. I know many boozing and whoring Pakistani guys who have very little association with Islam apart from their names and heritage who would have responded with 4 or 5 in this question.

    It’s essentially akin to labeling an American who agrees that the collateral damage in Iraq was justified as a “Radical Christian”.

  9. #9 chet snicker
    November 29, 2006

    It’s essentially akin to labeling an American who agrees that the collateral damage in Iraq was justified as a “Radical Christian”.

    and you’d get a correlation with religious fundamentalism, so you proved the study’s veracity. remember, the exact numbers are less important than the rank order.

  10. #10 dougjnn
    November 30, 2006

    Doctorgoo said–
    “Not only is the common assumption that these radicals must be poor and uneducationed wrong”

    It’s not just wrong with respect to radicals within Islam. It’s wrong with respect to radicals generally, not only in our own time, but in most earlier times.

    It’s one of the theses of the left, which through lack of opposition by much of anyone since our own cultural revolution (the sixties) has come to be accepted as a truism by nearly everyone, yet is fundamentally false.

    Consider the Bolsheviks and the Russian Revolution. Consider Fidel and Che Gueverra and their circle. Consider Ghandi (a London trained barrister) and the great bulk of the Congress party leaders agitating for an accelerated and more thorough break from Britain. Consider the Robespierre and the leaders of the French Revolution.

    Not only most of the top leaders, but also most of the broader leadership group is generally relatively educated (formally or informally) and worldly and at least middlingly well off. Radical movements and leaders commonly do claim (and believe themselves) to be acting on behalf of the downtrodden and seek and often get an expanded base of support there (and go to great lengths to identify themselves there rather than as close to the elite they are rebelling against), but the poor, badly educated and oppressed are the lead and not the leaders.

    It’s historically common though to have a few from lower strata raised up and sprinkled among the radical leadership group, and occasionally even serving as one or more highest level figureheads, for PR purposes. All this was true of the Bolshevik radical “working class” revolution, the progressives, the 30’s old left (communists and allied leftists) in Western countries, and the New Left as well. And sometimes real talent and intelligence is found among those so raised up and cast as examples or figureheads – though more often the humble origins of members of the radical leadership group are exaggerated or lied about.

    Of course radicals in the modern era generally do cast themselves as fighting for the oppressed. They seek and often do get a broad base of followers, or at least sympathizers there. And radicals have always found in the name of some great wrong or injustice or other, as in less heated and revolution seeking ways do political leaders or would be leaders generally. That’s how human groups work and coalesce. By opposing other groups on the basis of the evil nature of their gods or the corrupt way in which they fail to follow common gods. Seems to me.

  11. #11 dougjnn
    November 30, 2006

    Of for more secular groups and their leaders, for Gods substitute “principles”.

  12. #12 dougjnn
    November 30, 2006

    Razib said–
    “the interesting point is not what proportion of muslims are nuts, the interesting point is that nuttiness might be positively proportional to increased SES. ‘interesting’ only because it confounds naive expectations, not because there isn’t a non-trivial amount of data or historical context which would lead us to expect this.”

    Right. Absolutely.

    Another way of putting it within the context of American populist sentiment and our own cultural experience is saying that ‘it takes a really good college education to stop believing your lying eyes, and enthusiasticly embrace Political Correctness (or in the more sophisticated version, Postmodernism), instead’.

    What I would ask is how many ideologies aren’t nutty in much of their core? Was the messianic communist utopia, in which as the state “withered away”, each would contribute according to his ability, and receive according to his needs, not nutty?

    Empirical, scientific, rationalist and classical liberal societies of the Western (often former) ideal are very rare beasts in world history. The Greeks, who in places enjoyed quite a bit of it for a few decades in a narrow citizen strata sitting atop a mass of non citizens and slaves, usually thought it couldn’t last anywhere. I hope they were wrong. But I know it’s a struggle rather than some now inevitable and at hand end point of history, a la Fukayama.

  13. #13 bengali
    November 30, 2006

    and you’d get a correlation with religious fundamentalism, so you proved the study’s veracity. remember, the exact numbers are less important than the rank order.

    How so? The act of 9/11 has more to do with political radicalism than it has to do with dogmatic fundamentalism. Same with the war in Iraq; it is about political change, not killing or converting the heathens/kafirs.

    Reducing 9/11 to a religious litmus test is disingenuous and highly suspect.

    Consider the Bolsheviks and the Russian Revolution. Consider Fidel and Che Gueverra and their circle. Consider Ghandi (a London trained barrister) and the great bulk of the Congress party leaders agitating for an accelerated and more thorough break from Britain. Consider the Robespierre and the leaders of the French Revolution.

    Sure, the leaders of these movements were smart/highly educated individuals, but their followers, the people who gave them power were generally poor or uneducated. Afterall, why would someone revolt or seek equality if they had full bellies and plump purses? People in these categories are generally happy with the status quo.

  14. #14 chet snicker
    November 30, 2006

    How so? The act of 9/11 has more to do with political radicalism than it has to do with dogmatic fundamentalism. Same with the war in Iraq; it is about political change, not killing or converting the heathens/kafirs.

    the part after “How so?” is irrelevant. you said: It’s essentially akin to labeling an American who agrees that the collateral damage in Iraq was justified as a “Radical Christian” as if that showed the problem with the method they used. but there is a correlation with conservative/fundamentalist christianity and jingoism. the correlation might be spurious or a bad metric, but your counter example doesn’t show it at all, it shows the correlation between propensity toward violence toward outgroups by the hyperreligious. you are trying to elucidate the causal structure of attitudes toward violence, etc., but that’s a different and separate issue from what i’m trying to highlight in the post. as i said, the rank order surprised. the metric they used to ascertain ‘radicalism’ might be wrong as you say, but i’m not that interested in this specific study to really argue about it. there are other works which show that terrorists are often high SES. or, the fact that east java elites tended to be santri while the peasantry is not.

  15. #15 dougjnn
    November 30, 2006

    ” Sure, the leaders of these movements were smart/highly educated individuals, but their followers, the people who gave them power were generally poor or uneducated.”

    Wrong. That’s a myth. It was the broad middle classes that gave Fidel Power by supporting him. The lower classes eventually came along too, but it was always large elements of the middle classes, believing Castro was either a democratic socialist or a social democrat, who were crucial. Similarly in Russia, it was the middle class support for the Karenski social democratic government which Lenin and his Bolsheviks subverted, divided and overthrew by their small clique of Bolsheviks, that was crucial. Press agitation from middle classes, and so on.

    Elites agitate in the name of the working classes but the later are rarely crucial, other than as a cause. They can also be manipulated in other directions, and usually are.

    The point is it isn’t the masses that need to be appeased, if appeasement is the method one chooses to combat radicalism. (It’s not the only method that works. Consistent and sufficient repression of radicalism actually works better, not that I’m usually for that.) Co-opting radical elites is what matters, together with some movement in the direction of their cause (the working class ‘oppressed’, Muslim concerns, etc.)

  16. #16 chet snicker
    November 30, 2006

    Elites agitate in the name of the working classes but the later are rarely crucial, other than as a cause.

    that’s my reading of history too. mass movements without an elite vanguard to lead them are like headless snakes, they go nowhere and are easily crushed or co-opted. to be effective you need elites, but elites by their nature manipulate the mass movements to their own advantage.

  17. #17 Zuska
    December 2, 2006

    It’s essentially akin to labeling an American who agrees that the collateral damage in Iraq was justified as a “Radical Christian”.

    and you’d get a correlation with religious fundamentalism, so you proved the study’s veracity. remember, the exact numbers are less important than the rank order.

    ummm…I’d think what you’d have there is an artifact. That is, if you did a study of Americans in general asking “Do you agree the collateral damage in Iraq was justified?” and you labelled all yes respondents as Radical Christians and then you found out that your yes respondents happened were largely (but not completely) comprised of conservative Christians, that would be an interesting result of your study but it would not PROVE that all conservative Christians believe that the collateral damage in Iraq was justified. Nor would it prove that the two categories “conservative Christian” and “Radical Christian”, the latter of which you created for your study, are equivalent. In fact, “Radical Christian”, just like Radical Muslim, would be a name you made up and gave to a group whose existence you conjured up to describe a collection of individuals whose definition is fluid and changing, subject to the whims of the definer at the moment of defining – e.g., in this study, approving of collateral damage in Iraq, or, for Muslims, approving of 9/11. In other contexts, other definitions of Radical Christian/Muslim may apply. It would still make more sense to call the group in your study Radical Americans, to account for the non-Christians who approve of collateral damage in Iraq. Otherwise you are eliding their existence and ascribing all Radical American behavior to religious elements. Um, just as might be happening with the Radical Muslim survey.

    I’m not saying these labels are entirely meaningless. I’d just like to point out some of the limitations in their use and caution about the limits of interpreting the study under discussion. It IS important to know how, in this context, “Radical Muslims” are being defined. And maybe, “approving of 9/11″, while convenient for the purposes of polling, is not the best or most useful definition of Radical Muslim. Maybe a good starter for radical – but as other commenters have pointed out, it does not at all speak to the issue of whether or not the individual being polled is actually a practicing Muslim.

  18. #18 chet snicker
    December 2, 2006

    In other contexts, other definitions of Radical Christian/Muslim may apply.

    there are other studies which attest to the fact that ‘islamic radicalism,’ broadly defined, tends to be concentrated amongst certain strata, whether it be petite bourgeois or engineering students. the overall point is that if you use coarse measures you will often get the result that there is some positive correlation between islamism and SES. this is because the necessities of islamism tend to imply at least a more-than-subsistence lifestyle. e.g., peasant women in muslim nations amongst the poor have to work, and this is not considered compatible with ‘islamism.’

  19. #19 dan safta
    December 21, 2006

    I don’t think that any romanian believe that the attack in 9/11 is justified.You’re wrong.

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