Cross-posted at Montclair SocioBlog.

A  picture – or a graph without data – is like anecdotal evidence.  It can be very persuasive, but unless it’s based on systematic evidence, it’s just misleading.  Case in point:

The FBI is teaching its counter-terrorism agents that Islam is an inherently violent religion.  So are the followers of Islam.  Not just the extremists and radicals, but the mainstream.

There may not be a ‘radical’ threat as much as it is simply a normal assertion of the orthodox ideology… The strategic themes animating these Islamic values are not fringe; they are main stream.

Wired got hold of the training materials.  The Times has more coverage, including a section of the report that describes Muhammad as “a cult leader for a small inner circle.” (How small? Twelve perhaps?)  He also “employed torture to extract information.”*

An FBI PowerPoint slide has a “graph” to support its assertions.

The graph, really just a drawing, claims to show that followers of the Torah and the Bible have gotten progressively less violent since 1400 BC, while followers of the Koran flatline starting around 620 AD and remain just as violent as ever.

Unfortunately, the creators of the chart do not say how they operationalized “violent” and “non-violent.”  But since the title of the presentation is “Militancy Considerations,” it might have something to do with military, para-military, and quasi-military violence.  When it comes to quantities of death, destruction, and injury, these overwhelm other types of violence.

I must confess that my knowledge of history is sadly wanting, and I was educated before liberals imposed all this global, multicultural nonsense on schools, so I know nothing about wars that might have happened among Muslims during the period in question.  What I was taught was that the really big wars, the important wars, the wars that killed the most people, were mostly affairs among followers of the Bible.  Some of these were so big that they were called “World Wars” even though followers of the Qur’an had very low levels of participation.  Some of these wars lasted quite a long time – thirty years, a hundred years.  I was also taught that the in the important violence that did involve Muslims – i.e., the Crusades** – it was the followers of the Bible who were doing most of the killing.

Perhaps those with a more knowledge of Muslim militant violence can provide the data.

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* To be fair, the FBI seems to have been innocent of any of the torture that took place during the Bush years.  That was all done by the military and the CIA – and by the non-Christian governments to which the Bush administration outsourced the work.

** Followers of the Bible crusading to “take back our city” from a Muslim-led regime may have familiar overtones.

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