Post from Mark Levin’s Blog:
Is Islam the Most Violent Religion? – Bodycounts in Modern History
Often, I come across the assumption that Islam is a more violent religion. It’s an assumption that colors our international relations, late night comedy and national discourse. It has percolated into our worldview, and embedded itself there. This is a very dangerous misconception we are laboring under.
The suggestion that Obama being pegged as a former, current or hidden Muslim is a kiss of death for his electability (it is) is rarely taken to the next step – as to why “Muslim” is a dirty word to us. What does that say about us as Americans? Are we really the best country in the world if we cannot imagine an actual Muslim American winning a nomination or the Presidency? Aren’t we supposed to be tolerant and not racist? Why don’t we raise our hackles the same way when we see digs at Arabs, Mormons and Muslims as we do when blacks, Hispanics or Jewish people are targeted?
Militant Islam is seen by us as a bigger threat to human life than Western military power. Islam is seen as the violent religion. The quantitative hard evidence is completely in the other direction.
The killing/infliction of pain by the West and Islamist militants is different in style and expense, except at the final moments – explosives ripping through human flesh of innocent men, women and children. The first stages are radically different; one is a very expensive high-tech process which often involves pressing a button and never having to see who you are killing far away, the other is a low-tech, often suicidal effort with close proximity to the victim. Both achieve the same result, of terror, and of targeted and collateral death. Our collateral (innocent) bodycounts on them, far exceed the bodycount they exact on us. But somehow, all the technology and wizardry that precedes that last moment of shrapnel through flesh, somehow gives us a thicker veneer of being civilized than some suicide attacker or beheader. Why? Aren’t we achieving the same grisly result?
Our analyses, pundits and media usually ignore this uncomfortable fact because it doesn’t make us look moral, or civilized.
Our media (like that of every nation) reports empathetically on the suffering of Western victims, while largely ignoring the video coverage (if it exists) of what happens on the other side or letting us hear their side. Sometimes that video footage is never available – the poor don’t have camcorders.
We have no reason to feel morally superior just because women have fewer rights in some Muslim countries – we do a better job in actually killing them.
Yes, we have much more blood on our hands than “they” do. I claimed this in an earlier post, but afterwards I researched the numbers to back it up. I did most of this research when I commented on Israpundit a month ago, so the numbers are 1 month old. Jonathan Tilove mentioned (correctly) in his article in Cleveland Plain Dealer:
“Mark Levin suggested that Americans have a blinkered view of the world, that in recent decades the Judeo-Christian West has more blood on its hands than Islam, and that the Israeli-Palestine conflict ought to be seen as “a clash of two equally valid worldviews, a clash of two rights, instead of as a clash between right vs. wrong.”
Here’s the data.
Judaeo-Christians win the kill totals big in the 20th century, beating Islam hands-down. Think of Stalin (~20 million), WWI (20 million), WWII (72 million) which were mostly intra-Judaeo-Christian kills – this ‘group’ killed well over 50% of “its own” among the roughly 200 million deaths from war in the 20th century. Once again, the question arises – are the adherents of Islam really more violent than Judaeo-Christian adherents? The empirical evidence doesn’t support it. Quite the opposite.
In 1950, the global population was 2.5 billion, North America and Europe had a combined 720 million people, or close to 25% of the world population then.
We have had a disproportionate share of the kills in that century, over 50%. It would follow that Muslims have killed fewer people as a % of their population compared to the “Western group.”
Islam vs the West Since 2000:
We have killed more Muslim civilians from collateral damage of our bombs in Iraq, Afghanistan and Israel combined than all the Israelis and Americans (including combatants) who have been killed since 2000 by Muslims attacking Western targets. The math follows.
Casualties on the “Muslim side”:
Direct collateral damage in Afghanistan from US bombs ~5,000 by end of 2002
This is a 2002 number – the likely number exceeds 10,000:
Iraq invasion: 1,033,000 dead, with about 93,000 from aerial bombardment. “48% died from a gunshot wound, 20% from the impact of a car bomb, 9% from aerial bombardment, 6% as a result of an accident and 6% from another blast/ordnance.”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ORB_survey_of_Iraq_War_casualties (9% of the 1,033,000 is about 93,000 dying from just aerial bombardment)
Palestinians killed by Israelis minus Pals who were subjects of a targeted killing: 4,719 – 230 = 4,489. (the furthest this number can go down to is 2168, if we eliminate those taking part in “hostilities” which I guess can include rock-throwing. I think the number should be kept at 4,719 since on the Israeli side we are including soldiers.)
Casualties on the “Judaeo-Christian side”:
Israeli soldiers and civilians killed by Pals: 1,044 (soldiers are included because it was hard to discern the number for the Pals)
Sept 11 kills by AQ: 2,998 dead
2003 attacks on Istanbul synagogues: 57 dead
2004 Madrid bombings: 191 dead
2005 London bombings: 52 dead http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/7_July_2005_London_bombings
Let’s say we also include the Western soldiers killed according to Wikipedia:
Coalition deaths in Afghanistan: 723
Coalition deaths in Iraq: 4,350
I’m sure I’ve left out a few – feel free to add them in and adjust. I’m sure you can quibble with some of the classifications, but –
Number of Muslims killed by direct Western action (mostly aerial bombardment) since 2000: Over 100,000 dead.
Number of Christians and Jews killed by action of Muslims since 2000: Between 9,000 and 10,000. (includes all Western combatants as well)
That’s 10 X. Who has caused more terror? Is Islam really more violent a religion than ours?
Killing of innocent civilians is terrifying, and should count as “terrorism” whether or not initiated by a state. It is sudden, and kills noncombatants. I believe this same analysis, taken back 25 or 50 years will show the same thing.
How much can we blame religion?
Does this mean Christianity or Judaism is more violent, and has less regard for human life? I’m not sure.
I don’t think our religions are violent by nature, but I think our devaluation of human life (that is not like our own) is evident from the data. The same way many people in the West (openly or in their minds) tie any violence by Muslim extremists to problems with Islamic culture, religion, ideology and the Koran (instead of political grievances) – this data might lead an independent observer to argue that the Bible and the Torah, and the Judaeo-Christian culture they spawn is responsible for all the innocent deaths caused by Western violence.
Given their similar roots, I don’t see any of the three Abrahamic religions as being any more peaceful or murderous than each other. I’m no scholar of comparative religion, but I think that’s a reasonable position unless someone shows me research indicating otherwise.
Each religious text – whether it’s the Bible, Torah and Koran – are complex enough to have passages that appear to be peaceful or vengeful. The Bible has “turn the other cheek” as well as an “eye for an eye.” None of these tomes is internally consistent. And they were composed in an era and culture that doesn’t look like ours. People who have political or other axes to grind will always be able to find passages in each of these texts to make their point. I could say that “eye for an eye” is the justification why I gouged out the eye of a doctor who messed up my Lasik surgery. Or some other act of revenge that is illegal under law. Does that mean my religion is a violent one, because I’ve found a passage in there to justify it?
Iraq and Intra-major faith deaths
Many will say that these post-2000 numbers ignore intra-faith violence. Yes, because it’s hard to assign responsibility. Also, we’d have to include many African conflicts, Yugoslavia etc where the religious lines are less clear.
Let’s look at Iraq. The bloodletting in Iraq was triggered by our invasion of Iraq, cheerleaded by the US neocons, and more quietly by Israel which saw Saddam as an existential threat. Iran has now taken that place for Israel, and the cheerleading by our neocons and right-wing evangelicals continues for in effect, a premeditated attack on Iran. I think these people should be more appropriately labeled neoracists.
If we did go intra-Islam, we’d have to include the Sunni-Shia violent deaths in Iraq, which are probably 70-80% of the 1 million Iraq deaths. I partly blame those religious leaders in Iraq who could have done something to prevent the civil war – but we started the whole thing. Analyzing this becomes messy – if we hadn’t initiated our invasion, the civil war wouldn’t have ensued – so who should get how much blame?
Saddam, by most accounts I’ve heard, could be blamed for about a million deaths. But almost all of that ended in 1991; there was no humanitarian casus belli of a genocidal level beyond the normal authoritarian tortures and killings after 1991:
And for much of that time he wasn’t an enemy of major powers like us:
Individuals locked in the middle of a civil war, when survival is at stake, and people are seeing blood in roving mobs, are obviously not without blame. But those who have greater power and influence, have greater responsibility. In Yugoslavia the leaders set in motion the ethnic hatred and conflict, where neighbors who had lived peacefully next to each other were killing each other. I hold them more responsible, rather than the former neighbors. Rwanda was similar.
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