Sunday, February 7, 2016

Newsweek throws red meat to the tribal faithful

And announces that it is Right Wing Extremists who are the real threat to Americans.  Of course they are.  America is the third largest population in the world with 318 million Americans.  Of those, only .9% are Muslim.  31% are Conservative.  That means 98,580,000 Americans identify as Conservative vs. 2,862,000 who identify as Muslim.

Now, approximately 26.9% of Americans are under 20 years old, and about 9.1% are 70 years old or older.  That's about 36% who are outside of the adults who are capable of killing.  I know that 19 year olds or 12 year olds or 75 year olds are capable of killing.  But for the sake of arguing, let's try to keep the numbers around those adults in America who are between 20 and 70.  That's 64% of these groups who are adults.

Now, what is an extremist?  Surveys repeatedly taken of worldwide Muslims kept finding that between 10% to 16% of Muslims worldwide supported terrorism at least to some degree.  That's actually Muslims who support terrorism.  That's actually support strapping a bomb to a baby or killing a room filled with innocent civilians.  I'd say that's extreme.  For the sake of arguing and charity, let's make it 10%.

What about those Right Wingers?  What is a "Right Wing Extremist"?  For some liberals, of course, anyone not liberal is a Right Wing Extremist.  But let's assume not.  Is it someone against the Government?  Part of the KKK?  Neo-Nazis?  Self-proclaimed militia?  Someone who doesn't like Obama?  A racist who happens to be Conservative?  Do they all have to support bombing federal buildings and shooting up black churches to be extremist?  I don't know.  It's not defined.  So let's just keep the numbers relatively close.  10% of Conservatives are extremists at least capable of killing in the name of their ideals.

So that brings us back to the numbers.  Based on the numbers above, approximately 181,000 adult American Muslims are extremists and either capable of, or fully supportive of, violence and killing.  Compare that to around 6 million adult American conservatives who are the same.  Since we've been assured  that illegal immigration isn't a problem regarding extremists, and the Muslim killers are always home grown, we won't worry about the immigration issue.  Just good old fashion American terrorists like Grandma used to make.

So there you go.  You are more likely to get killed by an American Right Wing Extremist than a Muslim extremist.  Naturally.  Look at the numbers.  How much more likely?  Apparently quite a bit more likely.  I would assume about 35% more likely, give or take.  That would make sense based on population numbers.  Of course I would also assume that I would be about 35% more likely to be killed in an auto accident with a Right Wing Extremist than a Muslim Extremist, or be swindled by a Right Wing Extremist than a Muslim Extremist, or 35% more likely to sit behind a Muslim extremist at a sporting event than sit behind a Right Wing Extremist at the same event.  So in terms of killing, I would assume if there were 45 Americans killed by Muslims since 2002, that there have been around 1530 killed by American Right Wing extremists.  Correct?

And yet, according to the Newsweek article, there were 45 people killed by Muslim extremists since 2002, and 48 killed by Right Wing Extremists.  How can this be?   That almost suggests that either fewer Right Wing Extremists are willing to kill, or there are far, far fewer Right Wing Extremists than we're led to believe, or there are a crap ton more Muslim extremists, or something.  Especially since the argument is we are spending too much time focused on Muslims and Islamic extremism when we should be focused on those Right Wingers.  If that's the case, then it stands to reason we've foiled more Islamic attacks than Right Wing attacks.  At least I would think so.  So something isn't right.  Somehow, when I step back and look, I'm far less convinced of the obvious bias that Newsweek is trying to get me to accept.

I admit I'm no statistician and numbers have never been my strong point.  But I decided to play around with the numbers in my amateur fashion.  After all, the article itself seemed to stink of hyper-left wing partisanship; bloody meat thrown to the rabid tribalists.  For instance, it deftly avoids 2001 as the starting point for the casualty rate.  That nicely dodges the whole 9/11 thing.  But then, I couldn't help but notice it drops the Oklahoma City Bombing in, just to remind us of what those Right Wingers are capable of.  And yet, it never brings 9/11 into the equation to remind us of what those rascally Muslim extremists are capable of.  Even if they argue they're only worried about domestic terror, let's not forget the 9/11 terrorists were here legally. And it also isn't fair, then, to discount the possibility of immigrants legal and illegal.  But let's face it, that's not why they mention Oklahoma and ignore 9/11.  First red flag that got me to thinking.

It also tries to go through the history of right wing extremism, but without nodding to atrocities committed here or world wide by radical left wing organizations or Islamic nations through the years.  That sort of 'ignore part of the evidence and you can prove anything' form of propaganda immediately sends up warning flares to me.

Of course the article paints a bleak picture, linking extremists with Republican leaders, racism and the GOP, Conservatives in general with their worst counterparts.  That's propaganda in the nutshell: use fact, twist facts, add lies, and mix with biases while ignoring inconvenient facts.  How do you know Jews are corrupt?  Find some corrupt people who happen to be Jewish and go from there.  Same with Blacks.  Same with Muslims.  Same with Atheists.  It's a time honored approach.  Not that some of the violence or evil done by Conservatives wouldn't have a particular feel or tone about it.  Sure it would.  But the same goes for evil done by Christians, or Blacks, or Whites, or Muslims, or anyone.  Or, dare I see, even liberals! 

I'm not saying that there isn't a story here.  I'm not saying that we shouldn't be looking at everything honestly - including violence done by Left and Right Wing extremists, and how such a small percentage of the population manages to kill almost as many as one of the largest demographic groups.  But this article is not trying to look at facts.  It is a little bit of raw meat thrown to the rabid wolves.  In fact, anyone who takes this and immediately uses it to build any case at all should send up warning flags to the rest of us about that person's credibility.  I know I'd be hesitant to listen to such a person again.  Which is why I seldom read Newsweek anymore.

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