A reader writes:

In “The Other Lesson of Fort Hood” you once again you throw out the claim that Muslims in Europe are more violent or dangerous then Muslims in the United States. I don’t think you’ve really thought this through.

The Muslim population in Europe is many times the size of the Muslim population in the US. As your reader points out, their are less then two million Muslims in America, or considerably less then 1% of the population. That’s compared to something like 10% in Paris and London, and over 20% in Amsterdam and Marseilles. Muslims are the largest minority in Europe. Despite that fact, incidents like the Ft. Hood shooting remain incredibly rare.

Yes, there are occasional acts of violence carried out by lone nuts, like the murder of Theo Van Gogh. These incidents happen in the States as well (the attack in El Al at LAX, the murder of an army recruiter in Arkansas). Do you have any data or research that such acts happen with greater frequency amongst Muslims in Europe? I’d love to see it.

Yes, there may be more social tensions with Muslims in Europe. Remember, as the largest minority, Muslims are the equivalent of Latino immigrants in America, and think for a second of the cultural and social resentment that they face. Muslims in America don’t face such tensions to the same extent because as a smaller minority they are less visible, and because America is more pluralistic and less moralistic about culture (no one in the States would seriously suggest the banning of the Hijab in public schools like in France).

What writers like Christopher Caldwell get wrong is that they think European Muslims are somehow more of a threat because of these tensions and issues, not considering that they are bound to come with being the largest and most visible minority in any society. But when you consider the size of the population, I don’t see any evidence that European Muslims are individually more prone to Jihad then American ones (and they certainly don’t have the same easy access to weapons). Yes, there have been terrorist plots broken up (some of them, like in the States, exaggerated by law enforcement). Yes, there have been European Muslims who have committed individual violent acts like Major Hasan did (though rarely as effectively). And yes, walking through, say, the 19th Arrondissement of Paris gives you the same cultural dissonance as walking through, well, 80% of Los Angeles. But to reflexively tar European Muslims with being more prone to violence and separation then those in America is facile.

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