Skip to comments.Are we all Islamophobes? Not really
Posted on 09/14/2002 5:09:04 PM PDT by Clive
When the Council for American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) speaks, the media listen. The Council recently released a survey accusing much of the Canadian media of being biased against Muslims. Dutifully, newspapers across the country relayed the news to readers.
"Respondents felt that the most biased outlets were those owned by Canwest: the National Post, Global [TV] and the Ottawa Citizen," said CAIR's press release.
Odd that. This is the 23rd article this newspaper has published in the last year that cites information or statistics provided by CAIR. Southam newspapers, many of which have come under unrelenting attack from the Muslim lobby group, have run almost 200 articles quoting or citing CAIR spokesmen. Whatever complaints Muslims lodge against Canadian society, they cannot complain about the media's lack of receptivity to those complaints.
And what of the complaints themselves? Are Muslims in fact victimized?
"There was a very well-documented, anti-Muslim hate wave that swept through Canada, and Muslims had their faith and their identify called into question [after Sept. 11]," Riad Saloojee, executive director of CAIR-CAN, said last week.
The council polled 296 Muslims across the country and said 56% believe the media have grown more biased against Muslims. Sixty per cent said they had directly experienced anti-Muslim incidents.
Due to the small sample size, it was difficult to dissect the claim that Canada is a swamp of anti-Muslim animus. For instance, only 117 people identified any specific way in which their lives had changed for the worse since Sept. 11; almost as many (98) identified ways in which their lives had improved -- they gained an opportunity to "build bridges with non-Muslims" or "remedy stereotypes."
But reading anything of significance into this survey, good or bad, is foolish. For this was hardly a random sample. The surveys were e-mailed to the group's electronic listserv recipients, as well as those who had attended its "conventions, lectures and other events." In other words, the survey polled only those who had already signed on to -- or at least been exposed to -- the council's protest campaign against the alleged "vindictive print censorship of CanWest Global."
This survey was not scientific. Apart from the sampling bias, no margin of error was reported. E-mailed surveys are notoriously unreliable: Response rates are low, and those who do respond tend to be self-selecting. The results only represent the views of the 296 respondents, not those of the Muslim population at large.
Why did the media oblige in publishing the results of a poll so obviously flawed? Because allegations of racism, no matter how histrionic, make news.
Let me be clear. There undoubtedly have been some serious cases of hostility against Muslims in Canada: In the weeks after Sept. 11, mosques were defaced, as was properly reported by the media. But, as groups like CAIR will concede, such incidents tapered off sharply only weeks after the terrorist attacks.
However much some in the media tried to imagine a "backlash" against Muslim Canadians, the truth is there never really was one. A February poll by Environics found strong support for diversity and tolerance toward minorities. Yet a month earlier, Marketing Magazine advised us that Canadian "biases have been exposed" since the terrorist attacks. A month before that, Maclean's reported that "Sept. 11 has given white supremacist organizations a shot in the arm." Maclean's had no data to back up its alarmism apart from unsubstantiated evidence from a talk-show host who had "no firm figures."
This kind of hyperbole expands the idea of "bias" beyond all rational bounds. Of the 262 incidents of alleged bias documented in the CAIR poll, most involved perceived slights -- impossible to verify -- such as "rude looks and stares," "comments attacking Islam," and a "bad attitude from public and service personnel." Meanwhile, the accusations against Jean Chrétien, the Prime Minister, whom CAIR has reprimanded as indifferent to Muslim concerns, were even less precise: The reason most given for why Mr. Chrétien deserved to be scolded was a "general impression" of ill will toward Muslims.
Racism is a serious charge. One should need more than a "general impression" to make the case against the Canadian media and the Prime Minister. And believe me: If there were reliable data to substantiate it, the media would happily report it. On page one.
Neil Seeman, a lawyer, is Director of the CANSTATS project at the Fraser Institute in Toronto.
It's the ALLEGATIONS of bias or prejudice, dontchaknow.
I have to tip my hat to CAIR in this respect: Though the majority of its members doubtless originate in countries where not a shred of press freedom is to be found anywhere, they nevertheless have certainly discovered how to manipulate a "free" press fifty ways from Sunday.
Pretty serious poll. Who took it? Zogby II Jr.?
Hey! I've been having that problem too.
I'm a white male. To whom do I take my complaint?
Well, almost a good start. Come on Canadians, let's get those numbers higher!!
So what...This guy, "poled" thousands of muslims!!!
Islamists however, are the sworn enemies of Western civilization, and I'll fight them any way I can.
You are also correct that Islamists are our sworn enemy. The question is "What part does the 'silent Islamic majority' play in enabling the Islamists?" That begs the question "What does the West do about it?"
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.