Last week I commented on Glenn Beck’s false assertion that 10% of Muslims are terrorists. Thankfully, this didn’t go unnoticed by the wider media either. Fareed Zakaria took to his show on Sunday to call out Beck’s math and his producer’s attempts to justify the smear.
Zakaria does a good job explaining why Beck is wrong, but I think he accidentally hurts his cause by citing an inexact number. Quoting CNN national security expert Peter Bergen, Zakaria says official estimates for the number of terrorists are actually 0.1% Unfortunately, I think either Bergen or Zakaria misspoke (understandable when discussing such small numbers). As I wrote about in an earlier post, 0.1% is still around 1.6 million terrorists, a glaringly high number.
But on the whole, Zakaria’s argument devastates Beck’s absurd claim. Drawing on official State Department data, Zakaria shows that there were 11,000 terror attacks recorded worldwide in 2009. Being generous to Beck, Zakaria shows that even if 100 terrorists were involved in each attack, the total would only be around 1.1 million, putting Beck off by hundreds of millions.
It doesn’t take much precision to best Beck, but the numbers Zakaria cites actually can help us drill down even further. As Zakaria mentions, most of these attacks were committed not by hundreds of terrorists, but by just a handful. Moreover, many of these attackers are repeat offenders. Organizations like the Taliban and Al-Qaeda are responsible for hundreds of these attacks by themselves. In fact, the State Department identifies only about 220 groups worldwide responsible for the 11,000 attacks.
Finally, this data is not limited to Islamic terrorists; it includes attacks committed by groups and individuals that span the religious and political spectrum from Columbian drug groups to African Christians and South Asian separatists among others.
While the report gives the estimated strength of some of the listed groups, it doesn’t provide a total estimate of Islamic terrorists. Still it’s nowhere near the 1.6 million mark. More likely are projections by experts like former US counter-terrorism czar Richard Clarke who estimates that there are somewhere between 50,000-200,000 members of jihadist groups who are actively involved in terrorist activity.
Zakaria’s push back is a great start towards setting the record straight on Beck’s pernicious attack and others like it. I hope next time he’ll make the case even more thoroughly. Those who blame millions of Muslims for the terrorist acts of a very few deserve to be utterly discredited.
Via Mark Barna at The Pulpit
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Thirty-nine Senate Republicans and one Democrat just successfully filibustered repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, trumping the wishes of 57 Senators, a large majority of the American people (including people of faith), the Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and President Obama. As a result, at least for now the military will continue its official policy of discrimination against LGBT Americans, flouting values of fairness and equality. In other words, a defiant minority used an anti-democratic (note small d) political maneuver to defy the American people’s (and the military leadership’s) desire to ensure that the American military reflects American values.
By the military’s own estimates, over 13,000 service members have been discharged because of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. I wonder how many of the 40 Senators who voted for this filibuster could look those patriotic men and women in the eye and say “you don’t deserve to serve”? As I said earlier today, some days Congress lives up to its enormous moral responsibilities. Today was not one of those days.
It looks like the Senate will take another crack at this before the end of the lame duck session though, as Senators Reid, Collins and Lieberman have introduced a new, stand-alone bill to repeal DADT, which should come to a vote before the end of the lame duck session. Hopefully next time a few more Senators find it in themselves to put principle above political maneuvering.
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Membership in Congress comes with enormous responsibilities. Some decisions, such as this week’s vote on the DREAM Act, have profound effects on the futures of people Senators and Representatives will never meet or hear about — people like Bernard Pastor, an 18-year-old honor student who came to America at age three and now faces deportation from the country in which he has grown up and thrived, punishment for a violation which he had no say in committing. Simply put, what’s at stake is whether thousands of upstanding, hardworking young people who have grown up in the US will have access to the American dream, or whether they’ll be trapped in limbo by a broken immigration system that punishes them for violations committed by their parents.
When opportunities arise for Congress to make a real difference in the lives of young people like Bernard, the faith community takes action. We rally in communities across the country. We speak out in the media. We write letters and make phone calls to Capitol Hill. We visit Members to plea, to reason, and to confront them when necessary. We lift up the stories of those who will bear the brunt or reap the fruit of the decisions made by Congress, and we pray, fervently and continually.
Sometimes it works. Yesterday was one of those days. To its great credit, the House of Representatives passed the bill by a 216-198 margin. A Senate vote awaits next week, and right now it’s uncertain whether there will be enough votes to break a Republican filibuster and give tens of thousands of young men and women a fair shot at earning legal status and eventual citizenship. The House has lived up to the enormous responsibility of ensuring that our nation’s immigration policy is an implement of opportunity, not oppression, for talented, hardworking young immigrants. It remains to be seen whether the Senate will follow suit. As we wait, the faith community’s intensive efforts to convince the Upper Chamber will continue.
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This afternoon, the New START Treaty got another boost from prominent religious leaders– Rev. Leith Anderson, President of the National Association of Evangelicals and Bishop Howard J. Hubbard, Chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops joined their voices to support ratification of the treaty. Bishop Hubbard said that “nuclear weapons represent a grave threat to the human family” and nuclear disarmament is “a task our country must take up with renewed moral energy.”
Rev. Anderson drew on long-standing evangelical support for ensuring nuclear weapons currently in existence will never be used, and also cited strong military support for ratification. “As I travel around the country, I see ‘Support Our Troops’ signs everywhere,” Rev. Anderson said. “Despite political conflicts on many issues, our nation’s security has always been a unifying issue that draws Americans together across party lines.”
Faith groups, from mainline Protestant to evangelical Protestant to Jewish to Catholic, have been rallying for START for month. These diverse faith voices are joined by Republican and Democratic former and current diplomats, international security experts, and military leaders, who all agree ratifying the New START treaty is in the best interests of our nation.
Check out Catholic News Service’s story on today’s press call here.
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I blogged a few weeks ago about pundits who attempt to hide their anti-Muslim bigotry with statistics. National security “expert” Joseph Bosco attempted to appear reasonable by assuring readers that he believed 99.9% of Muslims were peaceful, but then explained that left .1% or 1.6 million Muslims who are “killers.”
On his radio program today, Glenn Beck took that smear one step further, casually alleging that 10% of Muslims are terrorists. To run the numbers again, with a global count of 1.6 billion Muslims, Glenn Beck believes there are 160 million Islamic terrorists. That’s equivalent to the populations of Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia combined or one terrorist for every two Americans.
To reiterate, actual estimates of the number of terrorists vary from the
hundreds to low thousands mid tens to low hundreds of thousands. Or put another way, about 159,990,000 159,900,000 less than Beck’s estimate.
Via Media Matters. Listen to the full clip below:
UPDATE: The previous estimates this post linked to were for Al-Qaida membership specifically. Estimates of global terrorists are higher, but still over 1,000 times smaller than Beck’s guess.
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