By JR on Tuesday, July 19, 2016
An amusing example of superficial analysis from the Left
The author below makes a mistake very common among even academic Leftist writers: Assuming that correlation is causation and that they "know" in which direction the causal arrow points. One of the first things you learn in Statistics 101 is that correlation is NOT causation and cannot determine causation.
The finding concerned below is a correlation between anti-Muslim sentiment among the host population and pro-ISIS sentiment among the local Muslim population. Inferred from that is that anti-Muslim sentiment drives Muslims into the arms of ISIS. And indeed it may do. But let's look a bit further back along the causal chain. Could it be that anti-Muslim sentiment is high in some areas because Muslims seem particularly obnoxious in certain areas? So the causal chain runs: Obnoxious Muslim behaviour ==> Anti-Muslim sentiment ==> ISIS-liking Muslims. Or maybe ISIS-liking Muslims ==> Obnoxious Muslim behaviour ==> anti-Muslim sentiment.
It could be any or all of those things. The case is indeterminant without proper before-and-after research. I append to the article below the academic journal abstract and I note that the author there quietly admits towards the end of the abstract that the results are largely driven by "reverse causation", which I take to mean the sort of causal chains I have outlined. But it's all just opinion, of course.
Finally, let me flesh out out briefly what I suspect really underlay the findings. Anti-Muslim sentiment is huge in the old East Germany. Why would that be? Because the East retains at some level the values drummed into them by their old Communist regime: which are values of brotherhood and solidarity between people. And Muslims breach that. By holding themselves apart in so many ways, they destroy social solidarity. They offend against basic East German values. So even if they are not in fact unusually obnoxious in the East Muslims will be seen as unusually obnoxious there
So the East German case is pretty clear. In other countries other or similar influences may be at work. In Britain, for instance, anti-immigrant sentiment is by far the strongest in the North, as we saw in the Brexit vote. And where is the North ideologically? Solidly socialist. They are the great redoubt of the British Labour party. And as such they too have strong values of brotherhood and social solidarity. So we see again that anti-Muslim sentiment is in fact associated with LEFTISM. Not the Leftism of the elites, of course, but the Leftism of the people. The gulf between the Leftism of the elites and the Leftism of the people has of course been much discussed in the aftermath of the Brexit vote.
And who in history was by far the greatest hater of minorities? The socialist Hitler. Hitler united socialist and nationalist thinking in the propaganda placard below -- a Wochenspruch for the Gau Weser/Ems. The saying is, "Es gibt keinen Sozialismus, der nicht aufgeht im eigenen Volk" -- which I translate as "There is no socialism except what arises within its own people". You need social solidarity to have real socialism, in other words. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.
MANY PEOPLE WANT their political leaders to take a harder line with immigrants and Muslims, but new research suggests that this approach may, as President Obama has repeatedly asserted, make us less safe.
A political scientist (who “worked four years as a counterterrorism research officer in the Israeli Directorate of Military Intelligence”) scoured about 15,000 accounts of ISIS activists and their social networks on Twitter. She “matched users’ location data to local-level administrative data” and found that “local-level vote share for far-right, anti-Muslim parties in France, the United Kingdom, Germany, and Belgium is a significant predictor of online radicalization.
In substantive terms, an increase of one percentage point in the local-level vote share for far-right parties is associated with a 6 percent, and 3 percent increase, respectively, in the probability of a user being flagged as ISIS-affiliated and being among the top 1 percent posters of radical content.”
Local unemployment or immigration were not associated with pro-ISIS Twitter activity; in fact, “the proportion of asylum seekers and/or asylum seeker centers in a location is negatively linked to these radicalization outcomes.”
The fact that pro-ISIS Twitter activity increased right after anti-Muslim protests across Europe on Feb. 6, 2016 — but only in those areas with high levels of far-right, anti-Muslim voting — suggests that local voter attitudes are driving local radicalization, not the other way around.
From Isolation to Radicalization: The Socioeconomic Predictors of Support for ISIS in the West
The steady stream of foreign fighters from Western countries to join the Islamic State has gripped the attention of scholars and policymakers around the world. In this paper, I provide the first systematic micro-level study of the socioeconomic predictors of online radicalization and support for ISIS in Europe. I argue that lack of integration in Western countries, coupled with anti-Muslim discrimination and hostility, drives individuals to support ISIS on social media. From December 2015 to May 2016, I collected real-time data on the activity of thousands of ISIS activists and the full social network of their followers on Twitter, a central platform for the organization’s recruitment efforts. I captured and analyzed the online activity and textual content produced by ISIS supporters before their accounts were deleted from the Internet. Using data on the geographic location of ISIS supporters, I matched online radicalization indicators with offline data on voteshare for far-right, anti-Muslim parties in Europe to examine whether the intensity of anti-Muslim hostility at the local level predicts support for ISIS on Twitter. Results show that local-level support for far-right parties is a significant and substantively meaningful determinant of pro-ISIS radicalization online, including posting tweets sympathizing with ISIS, describing life in ISIS-controlled territories, discussing foreign fighters, and expressing anti-West sentiment. An event study of the marches organized by the anti-Muslim movement PEGIDA in 2016 suggests that the results are not entirely driven by reverse causality. Of particular relevance to the current debate over refugee policy, I also find that the number of foreigners or asylum seekers in a locality are not significant predictors of radicalization.