Sunday, September 18, 2011

US Government-Funded Anti-Muslim Bigotry and the Danger of God-Awful Graphs

Last week, Wired's Danger Room blog (one of the best running commentaries on national security technology and policy, in my opinion) had a depressing in-depth article on how the FBI "trains" its agents that mainstream Muslims are "violent" and "radical."

That is bad enough, but what really grabbed my attention was the following graph, taken from an FBI training PowerPoint presentation. It's so bad I felt the need to annotate it:

This is a truly terrible graph - I give at an F+ (hey, at least it has axes). Also, I'm sorry for the poor handwriting - apparently I need a lot more practice at writing on a tablet computer.

Aside from the horribleness of the graph, it's not even historically accurate - this graph implies that Christians were most violent at the time of the religion's founding (Jesus the Barbarian?), and it seems to have forgotten the spike of religious violence that accompanied the Crusades and that is currently accompanying the state of Israel (whether or not you think that violence is justified, it's hard to argue that Israel has been a pacifist nation).

Granted, the graph comes with the disclaimer that "the views expressed in this presentation are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of any agency of the United States Government" - but the US government paid for this presentation to be given to its agents, so it is funding this bigotry, even if it claims not to hold these views.

Seriously, FBI, why are you paying money for this "training" - can't we do better than this? The public is counting on us ....