Why Do Americans Believe in Gravity and Muslim Rage?

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam. He is completing a book on the international challenges America faces in the 21st century.


“Why Do Americans Believe in Muslim Rage?” Steve Coll asks at the New Yorker, as if this is even a question, as if there are multiple options and categories and Muslim rage is something that you choose to believe in or not choose to believe in… and then it goes away.

Last week, Newsweek’s cover splashed “Muslim Rage” in large type above a photograph of shouting men. Inside came advice on how to survive “Islamic hate.” Cable news channels—Fox and MSNBC alike—showed similar images, hour after hour. By now, many Americans must find nothing remarkable about the conflation of Muslim faith and contorted faces.

If Coll were actually paying attention, he would note that the Newsweek story was from a former Muslim woman who might have insights that a man named Steve Coll repeating already dated pablum from the media about Muslims offended by a bad movie might not.

Americans are also inclined to see the Middle East as a region in perpetual turmoil. But, except for two American-led invasions (to liberate Kuwait, in 1991, and to overthrow Saddam Hussein, in 2003), there has not been a major armed conflict between states in the Arab world since the end of the Cold War. (The thirty-four-day war between Israel and Hezbollah, in 2006, came close.)

That’s because the Muslim world doesn’t normally do major armed conflicts. It does extended running sore conflicts that are low intensity and go on forever.

That kind of way of life is actually the definition of perpetual turmoil.

As for the idea that Islam itself should be understood as an inevitable font of conflict, most of the world’s Muslims live in relatively peaceful Asia.

Ah yes, peaceful Asia. Where Muslim majority countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan and Indonesia are notoriously non-violent. Also there’s no ongoing Muslim terror campaign in Thailand.

it is hard to find much rage in the air-conditioned shopping malls of Jakarta or Kuala Lumpur.

Now I know Steve Coll is Thomas Friedman reborn. Let’s hop back to Jakarta 1988 and the riots and mass rapes of non-Muslim Chinese. No rage to see there.

But really why do Americans peculiarly believe in Muslim rage, a phenomenon that has no substance and does not exist? Why can’t we, like Steve Coll, instead put our faith in a few sarcastic Muslim twitter Taquiya remarks?

Why can’t we just close our eyes, tune out all the Muslim rage, ignore reality and believe?