Monday, February 26, 2007

Terror State

I just wanted to save this link, because it is so astounding to me:
Those who think that Muslim countries and pro-terrorist attitudes go hand-in-hand might be shocked by new polling research: Americans are more approving of terrorist attacks against civilians than any major Muslim country except for Nigeria.

The survey, conducted in December 2006 by the University of Maryland's prestigious Program on International Public Attitudes, shows that only 46 percent of Americans think that 'bombing and other attacks intentionally aimed at civilians' are 'never justified,' while 24 percent believe these attacks are 'often or sometimes justified'.

Contrast those numbers with 2006 polling results from the world's most-populous Muslim countries - Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nigeria. Terror Free Tomorrow...found that 74 percent of respondents in Indonesia agreed that terrorist attacks are 'never justified'; in Pakistan, that figure was 86 percent; in Bangladesh, 81 percent.



Seth Weinberger said...

I'm skeptical, and I would caution against reading too much in to these numbers. You'd have to look at exactly how the poll was worded to know what's going on here. For example, you note "46 percent of Americans think that 'bombing and other attacks intentionally aimed at civilians' are 'never justified,' while 24 percent believe these attacks are 'often or sometimes justified'." Does this include attacks duing wartime, like the bombings of Dresden, Tokyo, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki? If so, or if the question can be understood to include such attacks, then the responses do not mean that Americans support terrorism in the way you imply. In order to draw the kind of conclusions you're making, you would need the poll to include some kind of objective definition of terrorism and then ask if people approve of such actions. As it stands, the question is too open and subject to interpretation to be useful, which is exactly why polling is such a dangerous game. One needs to be extra cautious in drawing conclusions other than the exact wording from the poll.

Anonymous said...

Good point Seth.

Mark said...

Or when Jefferson wrote that the tree of liberty needed to be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots, and if you note that the government helped to institute had nothing but citizens ... then what do you think he had in mind.

Jack said...

Well even if you allow for differenet interpretations of the question that doesn't change the results. No one said the poll suggests Americans are blood-thirsty barbarians. I happen to think violence against civilians can be justified in certain circumstances but whether or not I'm right isn't relevant to the claim. Muslims are still more likely to reject violence against civilians outright then Americans are.

This really isn't surprising at all. Traditional Islams explicitly and clearly condemns violence against civilians.

PG said...

Yes, but Islam also has redefined "civilian" not to include Israelis. I have seen Muslims justify attacks on Israelis who are not in uniform, on the ground that all Israelis are part of the military at some point in their lives, and therefore all are military targets.