James Kirchick: What About all the “Christianist” Support for Killing Civilians?

In an August 2nd piece in the New York Daily News, James Kirchick a contributing editor for The New Republic wrote that ‘Islamist terror dwarfs Breivik’s brand because almost nobody supports Christianist violence.’ He implies in the piece that there is more support amongst Muslims for the targeted killing of civilians than groups in the West.

Kirchick is not the first, and probably will not be the last to express such a sentiment. To buttress his point Kirchick cites the familiar Pew Poll research and celebrations on Palestinian streets after the 9/11 attacks as evidence that there is a large wellspring for terrorism, while claiming that, excepting some mad bloggers, Breivik was universally condemned in the West.

It goes without saying that Kirchick’s analysis is simplistic for more than one reason.  Firstly, Breivik’s terrorism did not emerge out of nowhere, there is an anti-Muslim movement from which his thoughts were gleaned. Secondly, there are many in the anti-Muslim movement who share Breivik’s ideas about the “Muslim threat.” Thirdly, while many in the anti-Muslim movement are not willing to kill to reach their ends they do share in a radical and anti-Democratic path to “solve” the “Muslim problem.” Fourth, there is a significant group of individuals who do support aggressive and violent action to “save the West from Muslims” (see: SIOA is a Hate Group).

Fifth, the Islamist terror threat is overblown, (see: “All Terrorists are…”). Sixth, Kirchick conflates anti-Americanism and opposition to American foreign policy with  those who express a willingness to join “Islamist terror.” Seventh, he is unaware or ignores the fact there is a disproportionately large amount of support and acceptance for the killing of civilians amongst non-Muslims in the West, but lets keep it brief.

Support for Breivik’s Brand of Terror vs. Islamist Terror vs. Professional State Terrorism

Breivik’s brand of terror may not elicit as much support as ‘Islamist terror,’ but that is not to say there isn’t a pool of acceptance for the murder of civilians in the West. In fact, what would Kirchick’s response be to the fact that many more non-Muslims condone and justify the murder of civilians than Muslims?

58% of Catholics and Protestants believe the targeted military killing of civilians is sometimes justified (would that be considered “Christianist” support?), while 52% of Jews and 64% of Mormons believe it is sometimes justified. That dwarfs Muslims, 21% of whom say it is sometimes justified, while 78% say it is never justified.

What would Kirchick make of the evidence that Americans and Israelis are more likely to justify the murder of civilians than Muslims in almost every country?

Mormon-Americans 64%
Christian-Americans 58%
Jewish-Americans 52%
Israeli Jews 52%
Palestinians* 51%
No religion/Atheists/Agnostics (U.S.A.) 43%
Nigerians* 43%
Lebanese* 38%
Spanish Muslims 31%
Muslim-Americans 21%
German Muslims 17%
French Muslims 16%
British Muslims 16%
Egyptians* 15%
Indonesians* 13%
Jordanians* 12%
Pakistanis* 5%
Turks* 4%

*refers to Muslims only

It would seem that Professional Terrorism of the statecraft kind dwarfs the meager in comparison threat of “Islamist terror.”

Perhaps Kirchick wrote this piece before the publication of the Gallup Poll survey and was therefore the victim of horrible timing?

Homework for James Kirchick

Kirchick would do well to read a new book from Charles Kurzman, “The Missing Martyrs.”

“The Missing Martyrs” is an accessible scholarly work that addresses the overlooked and often ignored question of: if as we are told, there is a lot of support for terrorism amongst Muslims, why out of 1.5 billion Muslims are there so few Muslim terrorists? Why does fear of the bogeyman of “terrorism” continue to haunt us when the threat from so-called “jihadists” is just not that great?

Aaron Ross in his book review for MotherJones writes,

As it turns out, there just aren’t that many Muslims determined to kill us. Backed by a veritable army of fact, figures, and anecdotes, Kurzman makes a compelling case. He calculates, for example, that global Islamist terrorists have succeeded in recruiting fewer than 1 in 15,000 Muslims over the past 25 years, and fewer than 1 in 100,000 since 2001. And according to a top counterterrorism official, Al Qaeda originally planned to hit a West Coast target, too, on 9/11 but lacked the manpower to do so.

While Arabs and Muslims continue to repudiate Al Qaeda and its allies by toppling dictators and pushing forward towards Democracy, it is high time that US journalists, analysts and think tanks stop beating the dead horse of “Islamist terror” and catch up to the changes shaking the world.

Terrorism is not confined to non-state actors alone, if this is accepted than the narrative of greater support for terrorism amongst Muslims must not only be revised but should properly be dumped in the garbage bin of history.

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