Mrs. Clinton suggested as much when she linked “the crazy voices that sometimes get on TV” with Loughner’s atrocity. These unnamed crazy voices (the ones on TV rather than the ones in Loughner’s head),—Secretary Clinton assured viewers of the Arab program “Sweet Talk,” are “not who we are”—just as the extremists within the Muslim world are “not who you are.”
But even this seemingly innocuous assurance appears suspect.
Last month, the Pew Research Center released disturbing poll numbers demonstrating the popularity of terrorist groups throughout the Muslim world. Muslim respondents in Jordan gave Hezbollah a 55 percent favorability rating, Hamas 60 percent, and al Qaeda 34 percent. In Nigeria, 45 percent of Muslims saw Hezbollah in a favorable light, and 49 percent gave both Hamas and al Qaeda the thumbs up. In Indonesia, the poll numbers were similarly grim: 43 percent favorability for Hezbollah, 39 percent for Hamas, and 23 percent for al Qaeda.
The positions are extreme. But the populations taking them generally aren’t described in such terms. If Muslims in “moderate” nations such as Jordan, Nigeria, and Indonesia take favorable views of terrorist outfits, what might a poll of Muslims in, say, Saudi Arabia show?
Here’s where Mrs. Clinton’s equation of Tuscon’s Safeway Massacre with acts of Muslim terrorism really breaks down. There is no statistically registering, let alone statistically relevant, group of people in the United States looking favorably upon Jared Lee Loughner’s slaughter of innocents. But when a Muslim terrorist shot dead eight at a religious school in Israel in 2008, 84 percent of Palestinians surveyed by a respected Palestinian pollster approved of the attack.
If the terrorists were merely Muslim versions of Jared Lee Loughner, we might be able to medicate or institutionalize them away. If Jared Lee Loughner were an American version of Mohamed Atta, we might be able to eliminate or separate such menaces through force. But neither crazy nor evil is that simple to stop.
Daniel J. Flynn is the author of A Conservative History of the American Left (Crown Forum, 2008), Intellectual Morons (Crown Forum, 2004), and Why the Left Hates America (Prima Forum, 2002). He has appeared on Fox News, MSNBC, CNN, Sky News, PBS, CSPAN, and other broadcast networks. His articles have appeared in National Review, the Boston Globe, and City Journal. He blogs at www.flynnfiles.com.
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