I was walking through an airport in Minnesota, when I saw prominent Republican Newt Gingrich on the television. He was speaking at some Republican convention. It was early in the election season, which I didn’t intend to follow closely, but thought I’d take a quick look to get a pulse of what was going on. He said something that stood out to me:
He was making the point that not all Muslims are bad, but that an absurd number of them are.
This is a classic case of making a statistic sound frightening, simple by leaving out a comparison. It turns out, lots of kinds of people are angry and violent, not just Muslims.
Here’s an interesting statistic released a month earlier, which asked Americans questions regarding the election.
That’s 24% of 300 million people- “and that’s just one country”
These statistics are asking different questions, but ones I think are very similar given the context. Politically violent people will want to use the resources available to them- for us, that can be nukes. For people in many other countries with less resources, it’s guerilla warfare or terrorism.
I wonder- what if there is actually a very small correlation between culture and values? Could every culture have their own ‘flavor’ of helpful and harmful people? Maybe all societies have those people who think that their way of living is right, and others are wrong. Maybe every culture also has those people who think:
“People are people.”
Perhaps if we could really take on an impersonal, third person perspective, we would see that the political conflicts of today are very two sided. Unfortunately, if we only get our information from one side, it may appear different.
Here’s a little more comparison to straighten out our understanding of radical Islam- which for a lot of people means the same thing as terrorism.
This graph shows the number of deaths per year, globally, from terrorist attacks.
I don’t know how this study defined terrorism (and the website won’t tell me without a subscription). I’m not sure what percentage of these attacks were done by Muslims, or how many people are murdered in Muslim countries outside of these terrorist attacks. I am not enough of a badass researcher to do a more in depth analysis for you at this time.
I can, however, provide a basic and enlightening comparison for you.
This graph shows how many people are murdered every year in the US alone.
The total number of people killed in terrorist attacks across the world is roughly the same as the number of people murdered every year in the United States.
So the next time you hear a shocking statistic about “them”- whoever they are, take a second to compare that to the statistics on “us”.
“Don’t complain about the snow on your neighbor’s roof when your own doorstep is unclean” -Confucius
“You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” -Matthew 7:5