Steve Chapman

You can reach that conclusion only if you pay no attention to what ordinary Muslims say. Most bear as much resemblance to Pipes' lurid portrait as they do to Dolly Parton.

Muslim immigrants in France say they have more in common with French people in general than with people of their own religion or national origin. American Muslims are more likely than their neighbors to express contentment with the state of the country and with their own lives. "Muslims appear to be among the least disenchanted and most satisfied people in the West," concludes journalist Doug Saunders in his 2012 book, "The Myth of the Muslim Tide."

"Intense hostility," you would think, would breed support for terrorism. But with intense hostility scarce, so is sympathy for militants. Among Muslims in Germany, only 1 percent say "attacks on civilians are morally justified." Same with those in France.

Some 8 percent of American Muslims approve of such attacks in some cases -- which sounds high until you recall that 24 percent of all Americans say such attacks are "often or sometimes justified."

If you hear someone in this country preaching violent resistance to the federal government or law enforcement, it's more likely to be a Texas secessionist than a fanatical follower of Islam. Across Western nations, writes Saunders, "support for violence and terrorism among Muslims is no higher than that of the general population, and in some cases it is lower."

The assumption among Islamophobes is that there is something intrinsically alien and incompatible about the presence of Muslims in free countries. In truth, they are not visibly different from other groups that have arrived with the mindset of the past and found themselves transformed into tolerant, loyal and law-abiding souls who value democracy and liberty.

Free societies have a way of doing that.

Steve Chapman

Steve Chapman is a columnist and editorial writer for the Chicago Tribune.

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