Sniffing Out the Islamophobes in Pew Polling Data

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Sniffing Out the Islamophobes in Pew Polling Data

Original guest article

By JustStoppingBy

By comparing results from two survey questions, we can get a much more refined view of the prevalence of Islamophobia in different demographic groups.

According to a well-known quote, “Knowledge is power.”  We may think that we know who the Islamophobes are among society.  But, how accurate are our assessments?  One problem with many polls that attempt to measure the presence of Islamophobia is that they often do not distinguish between bias against or dislike of Muslims with general forms of bias or dislike of others.  For example, suppose that someone says that they oppose building mosques.  If the same person would also say that they oppose building churches, synagogues and any other house of worship, it generally makes more sense to categorize them as anti-religion rather than specifically anti-Islam.  Fortunately, the Pew Research Center put out a poll in 2009 that has two questions that, when examined together, can provide us with an interesting take on this issue by specifically isolating bias against Muslims from biases against religious groups in general.

The questions begin with the introduction, “I’m going to read the names of some specific religious groups. For each one that I name, please tell me whether you would favor or oppose this group applying for government funds to provide social services to people who need them.”  Two of the “groups” covered are interesting:  first, “Individual churches, synagogues and other houses of worship” and second, “Muslim mosques.”

What makes these interesting is that we can look at the people who favor government funding for “individual churches, synagogues and other houses of worship” and see how that figure declines when that larger group is replaced by “Muslim mosques.”  The first question should screen out people who object to government funding of any religious group providing social services, whether because they oppose government spending on social services or oppose the government outsourcing such activities (positions that are tied to views of government rather than religion) and those who oppose government providing such funding to religious groups (which could represent a view of government generally or a view on religion generally, but should not be specific to views of Islam).  Then, when we switch to the second question, about Muslim mosques, any change is due to respondents’ views on Islam in particular.  Thus, the drop in support is a relatively clean measure of Islamophobic responses separated out from other issues such as views of government or religion generally.  This drop can be examined for different subgroups, allowing us to examine the relative degrees of Islamophobia across them.  This drop may be more useful than a single question about how respondents view Muslims, as it may be the case that some groups of respondents are generally more friendly or hostile to religious groups in general as opposed to Muslims in particular.

Before presenting the results, it is worth noting a few caveats.  First, the difference in the results represents Islamophobia among those willing to provide government funding to religious organizations for the purposes of providing social services generally.  The questions do not provide any information on the degree of Islamophobia among those who oppose the government providing such funding to religious groups at all.  Second, correlation is not causation.  However, readers are invited to provide their thoughts on the reasons for the differential results across subgroups, and some thoughts will be provided below.

Now, on to the poll results.

The first subgroup examined by Pew is Age.  Here are the results of Support along with two measures of the drop in support going from houses of worship generally to mosques:

Pew_Table1

There are a few interesting things to note here. First, in both the general house of worship and the mosque categories, support declines (with one exception) as age increases. Second, if we measure the decline in percentage points (the change in the share of the total group before screening with the first question), the declines are smallest for the two youngest age categories and then seem to roughly level off. Third, if we look at the percentage change (the change share of those in support on the first question), we see the same general pattern, but even more pronounced. (The 2009 results on age are consistent with a 2013 Pew survey finding that “[m]ost young people continue to reject the idea that Islam is more likely than other religions to encourage violence among its believers” and that younger people are more likely to say that Muslims suffer from discrimination.)

In terms of recommendations, there are two conflicting possibilities.  One is that because here is a quite limited amount of Islamophobia among the youngest group, perhaps efforts that are devoted there should be focused elsewhere.  A completely conflicting interpretation is that the near absence of Islamophobia in the youngest group is the result of those efforts, which should then be continued with future groups of young people if not expanded to cover other groups where possible.There are a few interesting things to note here.  First, in both the general house of worship and the mosque categories, support declines (with one exception) as age increases.  Second, if we measure the decline in percentage points (the change in the share of the total group before screening with the first question), the declines are smallest for the two youngest age categories and then seem to roughly level off.  Third, if we look at the percentage change (the change share of those in support on the first question), we see the same general pattern, but even more pronounced.  (The 2009 results on age are consistent with a 2013 Pew surveyfinding that “[m]ost young people continue to reject the idea that Islam is more likely than other religions to encourage violence among its believers” and that younger people are more likely to say that Muslims suffer from discrimination.)

The next category covered in Pew is household income.  There does not seem to be much in the results, but they are presented here in case someone sees something worth discussing.  (You may also note that the Total category results change a little from those in the Age table.  This appears to be due to slight changes in the sample, perhaps based on people not being asked or not answering questions for the different types of categories.)

Pew_Table2

Next is marital status.  In this case, it seems that the results are at least somewhat related to age, with the widowed category showing one of the highest levels of Islamophobia and the never been married the least.

Pew_Table3

Next, Pew presents the results by religion.

Pew_Table4

(Other Christian = Mormon, Orthodox, Unitarian, self-identified as Christian.)

It is worth noting that the atheist/agnostic/nothing in particular category shows the smallest amount of Islamophobia.  This should be kept in mind when considering whether some of the prominent New Atheists such as Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris are representative of the broader atheist community.  Second, while Jews are pretty much tied with other religious groups when considering houses of worship generally, they show the smallest dropoff, or the least amount of Islamophobia, and end up being the only religious group (even including atheist/agnostic/nothing in particular) with a majority support for government funding of social programs at mosques.  If this were purely a question of how a minority (meaning non-Christian in the United States) religion is attentive to concerns that a minority religion would not receive its fair share of funding, we would expect to see similar results for the “other religion” category.  Instead, that group falls a little closer to the higher level of Islamophobia in three Christian categories than to lower level among Jews.  Similar to atheists, the lower than average rate of Islamophobia among Jews should be kept in mind when comparing the general Jewish population to prominent individuals; generally different from atheists, who tend to have fewer identity-specific institutions, one can think about whether mainstream Jewish education and communal/religious organizations have a substantial role in bringing about this result.(Other Christian = Mormon, Orthodox, Unitarian, self-identified as Christian.)

Next, we have education.

Pew_Table5

While support for government funding of social programs at houses of worship is relatively flat across education levels (or perhaps a bit U-shaped: higher at the ends than in the middle), it is distinctly lower for those without a high school diploma when it comes to funding for social programs at mosques.  There clearly seems to be a story and a lesson here about how education helps reduce Islamophobia (while still keeping the correlation/causation caveat in mind).

The next category covered by Pew is sex.  The differences seem to be relatively small, with a slightly greater degree of Islamophobia seen among males.  In a bit of contrast, the 2013 Pew survey showed fairly clearly that men were more likely than women to say that Islam was more likely than other religions to encourage violence among its believers.While support for government funding of social programs at houses of worship is relatively flat across education levels (or perhaps a bit U-shaped: higher at the ends than in the middle), it is distinctly lower for those without a high school diploma when it comes to funding for social programs at mosques.  There clearly seems to be a story and a lesson here about how education helps reduce Islamophobia (while still keeping the correlation/causation caveat in mind).

Pew_Table6

The final category studied by Pew is “political ideology.”

Pew_Table7

Depending on one’s expectations, the results here may be a bit surprising.  The highest degree of Islamophobia is among conservatives, not those who identify as very conservative.  Thoughts on this are welcome.  Another interesting point is that the moderate and liberal results appear quite similar, with a small decline in Islamophobia among the very liberal.  In this case, the 2013 Pew survey did show a clear ordering of results, with conservative Republicans most likely to say that Islam encourages violence among adherents, followed by moderate/liberal Republicans, Independents, moderate/conservative Democrats, and finally liberal Democrats.

Hopefully, the data above provide some amount of knowledge.  It should go without saying that the data represents information aggregated across groups and do not prove that any single individual is or is not Islamophobic.  After all, while those earning over $100,000 typically have below-average displays of Islamophobia in this poll, Robert Spencer falls into that category.  And while a Jewish woman with some college but no degree would display three features associated with a below-average degree of Islamophobia, we have a prominent counter-example with those three characteristics.  On the other hand, the data should not be ignored as it may provide useful information if we can figure out how to use it properly.

John McAndrew Banned from Mosques after EDL Attack in Dagenham

Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer‘s favorite UK anti-Muslim organization:

Thug Banned from Mosques after EDL Attack in Dagenham

(London2)

A thug who attacked two men at a rally against a Muslim place of worship has been banned from going near London mosques for five years.

John McAndrew, 29, was jailed for 14 months after throwing large stones onto a busy road and then the following month assaulting two men at an English Defence League demo against a mosque and cultural centre in Green Lane, Dagenham.

Last week, McAndrew was given an Asbo stopping him from going near Muslim schools and places of worship until 2017 and taking part in any EDL demos in England for life.

In a statement released by the Met Police last week, Barking and Dagenham Pc Mark Gellard said: “John McAndrew is an individual whose often violent behaviour is linked with his attendance at demonstrations and protests, particularly surrounding the English Defence League.

“This behaviour affects those who live, work and frequent the areas where some of these demonstrations have taken place.”

McAndrew, of Grange Road, Plaistow, was given a conviction related Asbo at Woolwich Crown Court on February 20.

The Asbo will stop him from attending Islamic festivals for five years and from publicising and attending any rally run by, or in conjunction with, the EDL in England and Wales for the rest of his life.

McAndrew was jailed at Woolwich Crown Court on December 7. He was given four months after admitting common assault against the two men at an EDL rally in Dagenham on June 18, 2011.

He received another four months for affray after admitting throwing large stones onto the A4 dual carriageway during rush hour traffic at another EDL protest at the Hammersmith Flyover on May 11, 2011, police added.

McAndrew was given six months for breaching a suspended sentence for affray at a Poundmart store in Woolwich on September 10, 2009.

He was also sentenced to four weeks, to run concurrently, for two counts of failing to surrender to police.

Robert Spencer Just Can’t Handle the Truth

“Pre-eminent scholar” Robert Spencer is just like Tom Cruise in the movie “A Few Good Men.” He simply just “can’t handle the truth!”

In a recent post, Spencer attempts to debunk a Washington Post article about common myths about mosques in America written by Edward E. Curtis IV. It is an excellent piece, but apparently that was too much for Spencer, and he inserts a whole host of mistruths to counter the realities of the WaPo article.

For instance, in his response to the Myth #1: “Mosques are not new to this country,” Spencer writes:

See, folks? Curtis is here semaphoring that Muslims are a victim class, that they always have been, and that opposition to them is racially-based. As for Job Ben Solomon, I suspect that Curtis’s source here is a Muslim one, designed to reinforce a sense that Muslims are victims rather than tell actual history.

Robert Spencer just “can’t handle the truth.” Islam and Muslims have been present in the New World before our great Republic was a gleam in the Founders’ eyes, and Spencer, it seems, just can’t fathom this. So, he claims that the story about Job Ben Solomon was from a “Muslim source.” Umm…sorry, Robert, he was an actual, real person:

African Muslim slave. Ayuba Suleiman Diallo (later known to Europeans as Job Ben Solomon) was born to a powerful family of Muslim clerics of the Fulbe tribe in the northern region of present-day Senegal. While he was in Africa, Job received formal educational training in both secular and religious fields. He assisted his father in trade and became quite wealthy by the age of twenty-nine, owning three houses, a plantation with eighteen servants, and more than seventy head of cattle. In February 1730, however, Job’s father sent him on a slave-trading mission that would ironically lead to his own capture and enslavement in North America.

My source? The Oxford African American Studies Center. Not satisfied? Here is another source: Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture. Still not enough? Here is yet another source: The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. All non-Muslim sources. Or, are they all conspiring in a Leftist “dhimmi” conspiracy? Oh…wait…I remember: they are all secret Muslim sources practicing “taqiyya.”

In response to Myth #2: “Mosques try to spread sharia law in the United States,” Spencer penned this:

Anyway, what do mosques in America teach? As long ago as January 1999, the Naqshbandi Sufi leader Sheikh Muhammad Hisham Kabbani declared in a State Department Open Forum that Islamic supremacists controlled most mosques in America: “The most dangerous thing that is going on now in these mosques,” he said, “that has been sent upon these mosques around the United States – like churches they were established by different organizations and that is ok – but the problem with our communities is the extremist ideology. Because they are very active they took over the mosques; and we can say that they took over more than 80% of the mosques that have been established in the US. And there are more than 3000 mosques in the US. So it means that the methodology or ideology of extremism has been spread to 80% of the Muslim population, but not all of them agree with it.”

When I read that, my bull**** detector went full-tilt. I have seen and heard this “fact” be trumpeted around, that “80% of the mosques are Saudi funded,” without any actual hard evidence…except the word of a few “experts” and and some random Sufi Sheikh.

Later on, he states again that “it is estimated that as many as 80% of mosques in America are Saudi funded.” Estimated by who? And are you sure this is exactly 80%? No, because in the article Spencer says: “as many as…” So, it could be 10%, or 76%, or 3%. And to back up this 80% figure, he quotes a 700 Club article that repeats this same “fact.” And we know how much the 700 Club loves Islam!

This claim that 80% of American mosques are Saudi funded is a lie, plain and simple. Spencer has done this before, claiming that “as many as 75 percent of the imprisoned women in Pakistan are, in fact, behind bars for the crime of being a victim of rape.” Again, no evidence whatsoever to back up such an outrageous claim.

Hardly a scholarly study, but, hey, this is Robert Spencer we are talking about: if one Muslim somewhere does or says something that backs up his fantastical claims, he posits this is “definitive proof,” claiming that everyone else is lying to you.

In response to Myth #5: “Mosques lead to homegrown terrorism,” Spencer writes this:

All right, so some mosques promote “radical extremism,” and some don’t, and since some don’t, mosques should not be “feared as incubators of terrorist indoctrination,” despite the fact that “alienated young Muslims” might “turn away from the peaceful path advocated by their elders in America’s mosques” in their rage over “Islamophobia.”

Funny how no amount of rage would ever lead me to blow myself up in a crowded restaurant. But that’s just me.

You know what, Mr. Spencer, the vast majority of Muslims would never blow themselves up in a crowded restaurant either, no matter how much rage they may have as well. Of course, he will never say that. Yet, lest we forget, Robert Spencer did promote a genocidal video on his website, produced by a group responsible for ethnic violence against Muslims. He has also supported the call for the annihilation of Pakistan. And he also called for a new Crusade.

Yet, let us show Mr. Spencer what real scholarship looks like.  A study was conduced Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University and the University of North Carolina, supported by a grant from the Department of Justice, that found:

Contrary to Spencer’s contention, there has been increased Anti-Muslim Bias. Since 9/11, relatively low numbers of American Muslims have been radicalized, and that it is a limited, though serious, problem. Various practices of Muslim-American communities actually prevent radicalization, such as:

  • Public and private denunciations of terrorism and violence
  • Self-policing
  • Community building
  • Political engagement
  • Identity politics

In fact, the study suggested that mosques were a deterrent against, not promoter of, radicalization among American Muslims.

So, as is clear, when presented with facts that dispute his anti-Islamic fantasies, Robert Spencer resorts to obfuscation. Like I said, he just “can’t handle the truth.”