Supplemental: Saletan lets the B-bombs fly!


Plays Dimmesdale role at Slate:
We're going to make a confession today concerning something we'd say.

What would you say if someone walked up to you on the street and asked you the following question:
When it comes to the Islamic faith, which of the following is closer to your view?

“Islam is an inherently violent religion, which leads its followers to violent acts.”

“Islam is an inherently peaceful religion, but there are some who twist its teachings to justify violence."
When Bloomberg asked that question in a recent survey, 64 percent of Americans chose "inherently peaceful." Twenty-eight percent chose "inherently violent."

That's why we're going to make a confession. If someone walked up and asked us that question, this is what we'd be inclined to say:

"We don't know very much about Islam. You should probably ask someone else."

In the case of a polling outfit like Bloomberg, that answer would be missing the point, of course. When it poses its polling questions, Bloomberg isn't trying to learn the truth about some subject. It's trying to assemble data so journalists like William Saletan can unsheathe their B-bombs after scanning the results.

Let's be fairer than that! Saletan doesn't use any B-bombs in today's detailed exegesis of recent polling results. The formulation he uses is this:

"One of America's two ruling parties is controlled by voters who are ready to turn the government against a religious minority."

That statement is even less precise than the Bloomberg question. That said, an editor knew how to bring it all home. This is what the headlines say atop the Saletan piece:
Donald Trump Isn't the Problem.
It's time we face the fact that he's just channeling the bigotry of the Republican Party's base.
It's time we face that fact? We liberals have reveled in that claim since early in the Year One!

Just so you'll know, 61 percent of Republicans said Islam is "inherently peaceful." Thirty-two percent said "inherently violent." Eight percent weren't sure.

That said, no results are good enough when the Dimmesdales of the center left collaborate with headline writers to let the B-bombs fly. In the example shown below, Saletan engaged in a play we always find a bit odd:
SALETAN (12/8/15): Most Republicans chose the "inherently peaceful" version. But 32 percent (compared with 17 percent of Democrats) chose the statement that Islam was inherently violent.
Does that mean that 17 percent of Democrats are bigots? All through his compendium of data, Saletan reports that lots of Democrats gave the wrong answers to the polling questions at issue. But because more of Them gave the wrong answers, this seems to mean that They're the bigots while We, of course, are not.

Dimmesdales like Saletan love to locate the bigots. Beyond that, the Dimmesdales are always sure they know what the right answers are. That leaves Saletan locating bigots through the help of a question like this:
SALETAN: The San Bernardino, California, attack took place on Wednesday. Over the following two days...a Reuters/Ipsos poll asked Americans what they thought of Muslims in the United States “following the events in Paris and San Bernardino.” Sixty percent of Democrats and 57 percent of independents chose this answer: “I view the Muslim community in the same way as any other community in the United States.” Only 30 percent of Republicans chose that answer. Forty-eight percent of Republicans chose a different statement: “I am fearful of a few groups and individuals in the Muslim community.” Twenty-one percent of Republicans chose a third statement: “I am generally fearful of the Muslim community."
The Dimmesdales can spot the bigots every single time! According to Saletan and his editor, you're a bigot if 1) you're a Republican and 2) you say you're "fearful of a few groups and individuals in the Muslim community.” As a Dimmesdale, Saletan knows that the first response was the non-bigoted choice.

(Thirty percent of Democrats also gave that middle answer. But because that's less than 48 percent, we get to call Them bigots!)

Our sensibility tells us something a bit unpleasant. People who lovingly run through data in this way may be suffering from a slight strain of "groupism" themselves. If Bloomberg approached us with the question shown below, we'd consider giving an answer:

"When liberals refer to Republicans as bigots, is that mainly similar to racist behavior, or is it mainly different?"

We'll have to admit it. Our incomparable sensibility does see some similar impulses there.

A final point to Saletan and his editor:

Donald Trump is very much a problem. (There's probably more than one.) He's been a problem, and a disgrace, for a very long time.

He was a disgrace in 2011 and 2012, when he fashioned himself King Birther. His conduct in the past few days has been especially rank. (His comments about the sister of Syed Farook have been a virtual incitement to murder.)

Donald Trump is a very large problem. Constructive people look for ways to convey this important fact to others. The Dimmesdales choose to rise in the pulpit, B-bombs in each hand.


  1. Most Muslims are peaceful but Islam is a religion that is easily and logically interpreted to endorse violence, murder, and oppression and many Muslims in powerful Islamic leaders are dangerous radicals. Christianity is more difficult if not impossible to logically interpret as a religion that endorses violence, murder, and oppression and most of its leadership and followers are moderate and do not reasonably warrant closer scrutiny as immigrants.

    1. Most Muslims are peaceful apparently only because, unlike this commenter, they don't understand that LOGICALLY INTERPRETED their religion endorses violence, murder and oppression.

    2. Like you'd know anything about logical interpretation outside of your VDARE world.

  2. Yup. Bullshit polling spin, correctly called out.

    But we patiently await the inevitable news from trolltown that the Bigger Problem, as always, is Somerby.

    1. No, Somerby is too inconsequential to be a problem beyond the confines of his own domain.

      The Bigger Problem is the bigotry of the Republican base. Of course we await you correcting us on that matter.

  3. Bob, I think you should get out more often. Visit a local pub, have a beer or two. You might soak in some of the white male hatred and anomie and you won’t mistake your neighbors for Democrats. Trust me. Yes, journalists frame questions and twist interpretations to suit their own political bent. It’s all tendencious, isn’t it? But, I’d argue, all you’re doing is shooting fish in a barrel. It’s too easy. Go mix with the proles.

  4. I wonder if there are technical reasons why the Howler's internal search engine no longer works.

  5. Ealier today:

    "What makes otherwise sensible people want to believe stories and claims which are spectacularly simplified, even to the point of being false?"

    Current Example:

    "When it poses its polling questions, Bloomberg isn't trying to learn the truth about some subject. It's trying to assemble data so journalists like William Saletan can unsheathe their B-bombs after scanning the results."

  6. My problem with this post is that it seems to characterize William Saletan as a 'liberal.'

  7. Somerby makes a reasonable point. Both Republicans and Democrats and Independents show closely similar responses to questions about Muslims. He concludes that calling one party more bigoted than the other makes little sense given such similarities.

    I think it makes more sense to compare the statements of the Democratic presidential candidates with those of the Republican candidates. The gulf is wider there and the B-word seems more applicable, especially to Trump and those in his party who will not condemn him. I really don't believe Trump reflects the zeitgeist of his party. We should be isolating Trump and portraying him as the freak he is, not pretending he is only King Bigot in a party full of bigots. I think we should be reserving the B-word for Trump and his ilk.

  8. The phrases "inherently violent" and "inherently peaceful" have no specific meaning. Here are two statements that I think we'd all agree with:

    1. Most Muslims are peaceful.
    2. Muslims currently initiate a lot more violence in the name of their religion than any other religion. (Although there were times in the past when other religions initiated violence.)

    I think these facts could justify either answer to the survey question.

    1. What is your source or stats to support (2)? Do you know anything about religious violence in India or China, for example? How about Burma?

    2. Anon -- I know from reading newspapers that Muslims have a history of initiating violence in India and in China. "Koenard Elst in Negationism in India gives an estimate of 80 million Hindus killed in the total jihad against India."

      "Published on Jul 21, 2015
      Natural Sound
      Islamic militants are continuing a campaign of violence against the Chinese in Xinjiang province in western China. This month alone, Muslim separatists have claimed five bomb attacks in the region which they say have killed at least twenty-two people."

    3. I didn't ask you whether any Muslims were causing violence in India and China. I asked you if you know anything about religious violence there. Do you know about Hindu violence (Hindus greatly outnumber Muslims in India) for example? Do you know about violence against Christians or Tamils, or violence committed by Buddhists? All religions both commit and receive violence in the name of religion. In order for Muslim violence to be greater than any other religious violence, they would have to outnumber members of other religions, but they don't. Far from it. Do you even remember that the violence in Kosovo was against Muslims, not by Muslims?

      You are the world's biggest ignorant jerk.

    4. @ 10:40's last sentence amplified by the fact that known Islamaphobe David in Cal cites to another known Islamaphobe crackpot for support of his ridiculous thesis.

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  10. This article bears on the question of whether Islam is inherently violent.

    'Trump's not wrong – we can't wear uniform in our OWN cars': Five police officers claim Donald Trump is RIGHT about parts of London being so 'radicalised' they are no-go areas

    Read more:

    1. "This comment bears on the question of whether David in Cal is inherently pathological in his wingbat trolling."

      FTFY -NFO

  11. Can we stop making believe that Trump is some kind of outlier, and his bigoted ideas aren't in line with the Republican Party.
    This is exactly who they are.

  12. Re Lord Saletan - even a blind pig can find a rose.


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