I have talked about the anti-Muslim far-right’s obsession with statistics before but their fixation on polls has taken this to new heights of madness. There are a number of problems with their “reporting” when it comes to poll results, from poor methodology and semantic glosses to irresponsible and illegitimate interpretations, but in general the biggest problem is that none of their “findings” come as part of a comprehensive, balanced and focused study. At those odd times when such studies are referenced, the results are cherry-picked and only the most inflammatory survive the cull. Only Christians in their reading of the Bible can match this blatant disregard for the truth. Polls of Muslims show us what we have always known; most European Muslims share the values and ideals of the country they live in but there are a minority who don’t; a sentence that could be applied to virtually any group in any country in the world.
And what are these cherry-picked poll results in aid of? They are a clear and unapologetic attempt to demonise Muslims as a homogeneous whole. We are being… brainwashed is too strong a word, but certainly conditioned, to see Muslims as one people unified under Islam and represented by ISIS. No matter how many “statistics” get regurgitated all over the internet, this is just false.
In addition, if you think about the incensed rhetoric coming from the right, you will realise that we are actually being sold a conspiracy theory here. Muslims are taking over Europe one city at a time with the intention of creating a global caliphate.
This is just as ridiculous as the early 20th century idea that Jews wanted to control the world. Unfortunately, common sense didn’t stop the far-right nationalists in Germany from acting on their suspicions either; a chilling reminder of the insanity that can follow when we reduce a group of human beings to a label and represent them as somehow different from “us”; a lesson we forget at our peril.
Aside from triggering the xenophobic, “guard dog” instincts that some of us actually seem to think constitute an appropriate attitude towards Muslims, the kind of angry rhetoric we are seeing also makes reasonable discussion over real problems completely impossible. The far-right do have some legitimate points – police letting crimes go unpunished for fear of being seen as targeting a minority group, the horrific stories from Cologne, etc. – but because these pundits respond with racial and ethnic bigotry too simplistic and crude to be of any use, they bury these serious issues under mountains of nonsense like, ‘Muslims want to take over the world’ and ‘In Sweden, 1 in 4 women can expect to be raped over their lifetimes’.
The migrant crisis is a problem that has caught the EU napping and highlighted serious differences that exist between the member countries. Radical Islam and its global campaign of terror complicate the issue that much more. I am neither for nor against immigration and I am 100% against Islam (my default position against all religions), but I am for helping people in need and treating my fellow human beings as I would like to be treated, regardless of race, religion or creed. Simplistic reasoning that lumps all Muslims (or Christians, or blacks, or Jews…) together and targets them as a whole no longer has a place in the world. We worked hard to make it that way and it would be a shame to turn the reins over once more to those who would have it otherwise.