A recent Pew Research nationwide survey found that Muslim Americans are “largely assimilated, happy with their lives, and moderate with respect to many of the issues that have divided Muslims and Westerners around the world.” I for one find this news upbeat and reassuring, but columnist Kathleen Parker feels otherwise.

Parker views the minority results, those Muslim Americans who aren’t especially assimilated or happy, as a security threat and a reason to be pessimistic and guarded. She is wrong.

Sixty percent of Muslim Americans think of themselves as Muslim first, American second. This statistic is a lot scarier than it seems, first consider that 63% see no conflict “between being a devout Muslim and living in a modern society.” Now let’s reflect how unfair the question truly is. If we asked a sample of Christian Americans to pick which came first, their faith or their nationality, you better believe a large part would say ‘Christian first, American second.’

Parker works herself into a frenzy because 26% percent of young Muslims believe suicide bombings are sometimes justifies. Consider: 78% percent of Muslim Americans believe suicide bombings are never justifies, and only one percent believe the tactic is often justified in the defense of Islam. Even among younger Muslims, which Parker considers more dangerous for some reason, only 2% think attacks are often justified, and 69% believe they are never justified.

Also consider: thinking attacks are sometimes justified does not make a person a security risk or even necessarily a bad citizen. While thinking suicide bombing can be justified may be radical, it’s a far cry from the mindset of being willing to strap oneself to a bomb. Some people consider Palestinians justified in suicide attacking Israel, meaning that a segment of the broader population believes that suicide bombings are “sometimes justifiable.”

Parker also expresses concern that only 58% of Muslim Americans would strongly denounce Al-Qaeda. The pew report is clear that “just 5% of Muslims in the U.S. have a very (1%) or somewhat (4%) favorable view of al Qaeda.” That’s not bad at all.

Parker also assumes that the segments of the population that “didn’t know” or “chose not to answer” fell within the more anti-American viewpoint. Again she is wrong in her assumptions. Firstly, the people just chose not to answer the question, we shouldn’t put words in their mouth. Secondly, if a person has anti-American beliefs but is too embarrassed to admit them in an anonymous survey, I’m not to worried about their potential for political or radical activism.

While not every Muslim American is a model citizen, its time to recognize that overall the population is extremely peaceful and supportive of American values and policies. And while of the minority that expresses more violent views a few may actually be security risks, let’s remember there are risks everywhere. History so far proves that Caucasian Americans represent a far greater risk for domestic terrorism than Muslim Americans. Domestic hate groups are in my mind far scarier than Parker’s ominous generation of young Muslim Americans. We need to admit that no section of society is perfect, but that Muslim Americans are doing no worse than the rest of us.

See Michael Fields’ Blog at www.fieldsforthought.blogspot.com

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