The website Vox.com appears to still be thriving, despite my best efforts to warn people off of their willfully ignorant "explanatory journalism." As I have previously observed, we're on the tail end of a media "golden age for liberals where, to paraphrase Kipling, all the young turks were paid for their writing, and none of them paid for their sins."
Chief among those young writers whose transgressions are in arrears is Vox's foreign policy reporter Zack Beauchamp. (At least, I think that's an accurate description of what he does, because Vox eschews job descriptions in favor of listing Beauchamp as "Dictator-for-Life" and explains "Zack writes about all of the things that are not American things." What wacky workplace innovation will millennials think up next?) Beauchamp achieved a degree of notoriety last year when he wrote that Israel was restricting traffic on the "physical bridge, like the Tappan Zee," connecting the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. (Perhaps needless to say, no such bridge exists.)
However, in lieu of admonishing himself, Beauchamp prefers to punish his readers. So here he is again with a headline that's pretty Vox, even for Vox -- "This study obliterates the myth that Muslims are more violent." Beauchamp frames the issue this way:
Whenever the subject of Islamist terrorism comes up, the national conversation almost always circles back to a somewhat bigoted question: are Muslims more violent than other kinds of people because of their religion?
What these conversations usually lack is data; that is, evidence that Muslim societies are actually more violent than other ones. And it turns out, according to UC-Berkeley Professor M. Steven Fish, that judging by murder rates, people in Muslim-majority countries actually tend to be significantly less violent.
Beauchamp goes on to note Fish's conclusion that Muslim countries average 2.4 murders per annum 100,000 people vs. 7.5 in non-Muslim countries. Go ahead and read the post if you must, but that's more than enough information in the paragraphs above to size-up how aggressively dumb this is.
First, there's the way he immediately equates concern about Muslim terrorism with bigotry. This casual slander of people who have concerns regarding terriorism is, ironically enough, a kind of bigotry itself, and is self-evidently negating. Second, there's the typical absurdly grandiose conclusion being drawn from a single data point. Moreoever, favorably citing this statistic is essentially a brief in favor of authoritarianism. At The Federalist, David Harsanyi makes quick work of this:
Comparing the crime rate in a free society to those living in a tyranny is a giant waste of time. Crime rates in totalitarian regimes always tend to be low. Eastern European countries claimed to have far lower crime rates than Western European nations during the Cold War. Was East German society just as moral as West German society? What did those numbers tell us about Christianity or the German people?
Indeed, authoritarian societies tend to achieve docile populations through brutal repression and an alarmingly expansive definition of what constitutes the state's monopoly on legitimate violence. When Iran hangs people from cranes for the "crime" of homosexuality, it's not counted toward the murder rate. It's murder nonetheless.