Diana West

Funny how small 26 percent sounds when it describes, for example, the number of American voters who support the Senate's mass-amnesty, goody-bag bill for illegal aliens. In this case, the one in four people polled by Rasmussen this week who hope the legislation passes comes off as a minority voice, especially when compared to the whopping 72 percent of voters who favor border enforcement and the reduction of illegal immigration.

But 26 percent looms large when it describes the number of American Muslims, ages 18-29, who support suicide bombings "in defense of Islam" -- one of the sensational, if sensationally underreported, findings of a recent Pew poll.

According to Pew, the total Muslim population in America is 2.35 million, 30 percent of whom are between 18 and 29. By my figuring, the suicide-bomb-approving cohort works out to 183,000 people. The poll also tells us that 69 percent of younger American Muslims say suicide bombings are never justified. While representing a majority almost as great as the percentage of American voters who favor border enforcement, 69 percent in this particular case is wholly inadequate; indeed, a strikingly poor showing.

Why?

In the case of the immigration bill, the poll reflects public opinion pertaining to a political process, a no-holds-barred, expletive-laced, free-for-all that, loathsome as it may sometimes seem, remains democratically rooted in a nonviolent contest of ideas, politics and flim-flam. In such a context, one-quarter of anything pales next to three-quarters of anything.

In the case of suicide bombing, however, the context changes. According to Pew's data, one-quarter of younger American Muslims approve of the presence of skin-ripping, skull-crushing, organ-piercing violence in civilian life as a religious imperative -- "in defense of Islam." (The Pew pollsters declined to define "defense of Islam," but having lived through Pope Rage, Cartoon Rage, Koran Rage, Satanic Verses Rage, etc., I think it's safe to say this is a rather broad category.)

Such approval for religious violence is not just another unfettered political opinion finding expression in a poll-taker's tally. On the contrary, the fact that a significant young chunk of American Islam believes such violence has a place in society indicates something closer to the end of unfettered political opinion. It may signal the beginning of physical coercion as a factor in the American political process. Which helps explain why the 69 percent figure is no consolation prize; only unanimity is acceptable here.


Diana West

Diana West is the author of American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation's Character (St. Martin's Press, 2013), and The Death of the Grown-Up: How America's Arrested Development Is Bringing Down Western Civilization (St. Martin's Press, 2007).