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The Political Attitudes of American Muslim Communities

For a very good and comprehensive look at why, as he puts it, “homegrown Islamic terrorism isn’t a threat,” even after the Fort Hood horror, read every word of this overview by Max Fisher of The Atlantic. A very small sample:

Concerns about the loyalty of Muslim-Americans have little basis. U.S. Muslims are even happier with America than the average American. In fact, 71% of American Muslims believe they “can get ahead with hard work” — an important sign of faith and investment in the American system — compared with only 64% of Americans overall. Similarly, 38% are satisfied with the state of the United States, true of only 32% of the general U.S. population. Encouragingly, that number rises to 45% among foreign-born Muslims, who are more optimistic than their native-born counterparts on every measure. (Native-born African-Americans, one fifth of U.S. Muslims, poll more pessimistically because they are, like the general African-American population they come from, on average poorer. Their population has no ties abroad and is not receptive to influence by foreign militants.) U.S. Muslims, unlike the anti-globalist extremists elsewhere, are devout capitalists: they are 13% more likely to be self-employed or small-business owners than the general population. Muslims, sometimes misunderstood as hyper-religious, are not unusually so for America. Gallup polled 80% of U.S. Muslims as calling religion important to them, compared to 76% of U.S. Protestants. Both groups are equally observant: 41% say they attend their place of worship weekly or more.

[snip]

America’s free and prosperous Muslim population remains our most effective deterrent against Islamic terrorism. Al-Qaeda can recruit among the angry and desperately poor Muslims of Spain, or it can incite violence against the hijab-banning French, but it has difficulty convincing comfortably middle-class small-business owners to declare jihad on America.

I reported and wrote something similar in late 2005 for The New Republic and it’s good to see — both as a citizen and as a journalist — that the piece has aged well.

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