When Anders Breivik killed 77 people in Norway last year, he did so because of his ideology, which was developed partly by extremists who make a living off of creating fear of Muslims in the hearts of those in the West. These fear mongers make claims and twist numbers to fit their words in such a manner that those less informed can’t help but wonder if there is actually a Grand Master Plan that Muslims are trying to take over the world. There isn’t one but how does one actually convince the general populace?
In The Myth of the Muslim Tide, author Doug Saunders examines that numerous claims that have been made about Muslims in the West and one by one, debunks them all by using numbers and statistics with a dose of common sense. In addition, even if some numbers may show Muslims in the West in a negative light, he puts the numbers in context, unexpectedly creating that awkward moment (for Islamophobes) when one realizes that Muslims actually fall in line with most issues in the West or actually end up with a less hardline stance. For example, he writes of one poll (I believe a Gallup poll) that showed that 7% of American Muslims say that violence against is “somewhat justified” while 1% of American Muslims say it’s “often justified”. Saunders mentioned these numbers are ‘chilling,’ which I agree with, but then he says: “Taken in isolation, such poll results have become fodder for widespread belief that ordinary Muslims condone terrorist violence. But those numbers leave out the larger context”. Because, when Americans in general were polled, 24% said that violence against civilians is “often or sometimes justified” while 6% of Americans say it’s “completely justified”. Any percent above zero by any group of people is still messed up, in my opinion, but it goes to show that American Muslims are actually less likely to condone this type of violence. Bet you didn’t see that coming!
Some of the claims that Saunders debunks outright with his book include:
-Part of the Muslim master plan is to move to the West and have and produce tons of children, eventually making Muslims the majority in Western countries
-Muslims that are religious are prone to violence.
-Muslims who have settled in the West have less pride for their nation than the rest of Western citizens.
These are just a few that Saunders systematically runs through to really tell us that we have nothing to fear from Muslims (like, um, me) here in the West.
Not only that, but Saunders reminds also talks about the history of other religious groups and the struggles they endured as others feared them for their not-so-mainstream beliefs. It’s like in Battlestar Galactica, ‘All of this has happened before, and will happen again’. This has all happened to Catholics and Jews before and it happens to be the Muslims turn now. I’m not saying it’s okay that it’s happening to us and that we should just sit back and wait a few decades for this to pass without trying to defend false claims, but it’s interesting nonetheless that this type of fear of a “Muslim Tide” can almost be expected by taking a look back in history.
I have to be honest, when I first started reading this book, I hesitated a bit to read through it all. In the beginning, Doug Saunders was honest and said that he wasn’t an admirer of Islam (fair enough) but that he also agreed with a few reformers, including Ayaan Hirsi Ali. That last part raised a bit of an alarm in me but I’m really glad I got over myself and read it because there are no prejudices here and Saunders non-biased stance on Islam is what really makes this a valuable book. For him, it is what it is.
The audience for The Myth of the Muslim Tide is everyone who does not want to be misled by the talking heads in the media who try to take advantage of one’s ignorance, but to all the Muslims out there – a note. You all may want to especially read this book and keep it on your shelves (or e-shelves) just so you are “aware”. In this day and age, every Muslim is meant to be an expert on Islam and Muslims. Obviously, that’s not true as most of us are far from acquiring every bit of knowledge that we should, but that doesn’t detract from the fact that people who aren’t Muslim will be looking to you to answer any and all questions they may have about Islam and current events that involve our religion. If you don’t know the answer or worse, say something that’s incorrect, then whoever asked you in the first place won’t be able to correct any misperceptions they may have.
This just happened to me the other day – someone I barely knew asked me something (being vague on purpose) in a setting that was probably inappropriate for a discussion on religion and politics and I only knew the answer because 1) I read this book and 2) I happened to catch a random TV interview with an expert on Islam that addressed part of the question the person asked me. Not going to lie folks, I kind of felt a little overwhelmed because I realized that I could have completely messed that up. It’s a huge responsibility to have to be able to answer on behalf of all Muslims worldwide on the spot whenever and wherever. It’s insane! But it’s expected so be informed.
Also, check out Doug Saunders on NPR’s Fresh Air – Debunking the “Myth of the Muslim Tide”.