I am in recent close conversation with a person dear to me who is very worried about the Muslim invasion of his European city. His experience is quite real, as he now cannot walk in areas he used to because of the danger, and he sees and hears live and up close the recent migrants aggressively challenging passers-by, especially females, and notes that the rape rate has increased. I checked, BTW, and it has.
The problem is, he overestimates the numbers by more than 10x, and this adds to his wrath. He doesn't get numbers that well anyway, and maybe it would be just the same if he knew the proper statistics. Because...angry people arriving at the train depot in the center of town, hanging around until the local government does something about them, often refusing to work, and trying to accost and corner young women has its own effect regardless of whether you get the numbers right. It is virtually certain that many of the arrivals are not bothering anyone and would dearly love to have a nice European job. But he doesn't see those. He sees the others, where last year there were none. So, with the crap that spills out of his mouth, he would be regarded by most Americans as a bigot.
On the other side, I have lots of nice people posting on FB heartwarming stories of Syrian medical students who aren't being welcomed, or Palestinian musicians, or cute children looking sad, and all that. Tonight's claim was about families carrying starving children, and how evil bigoted Americans were keeping them out.
Starving is a big word. Hungry, I will acknowledge, but you have to go a long time to starve. Last I saw, 12% of the migrants were children. Many of those were smuggled across Turkey for a high fee. So if I agree with those who want to highlight what wonderful people we are discriminating against that the situation for many is indeed dire, and that some of them are children, can we not have the implication that this is some sort of huge majority, rather than something less than 10% of the total? I think helping that 10-% is a good thing. We should do something, and I'm willing to discuss what that might be. However we just had a fundraiser at church for a Sudanese group where the people are literally eating grass because they are starving, and there are many other world-wide causes that might be equally deserving."Syrian refugees," even though they are not so much Syrian and not so much refugees, are the fashionable topic, because it provides everyone with an opportunity to kick other Americans who are competing with your tribe for power in government. Nigeria, Uganda, Yemen, Ukraine, Venezuela? You bastards can go pound sand. You aren't the hip conflicts.
As regards American Muslims, it is clear that most of them are not violent extremists, and hinting that the next ones we take in are likely to bring down the Republic, it's just not true. Europe has it worse, we just get lots of focus because we are as big as all of Europe put together, so occasional incidents seem disproportionate. It is a very similar situation to the anarchists over a century ago. They can be dangerous, and we don't have good protections, but they really aren't going to make a big dent in population, nor even in our habits, as we seem to resume life as usual just a week after every incident.
But the other obvious thing is the reverse: Even in America, with a watered-down Islamic extremism, there is much more danger in mass events from the few Muslims than from, say La Raza, even though there are many Hispanics, or the Black Panthers, even though there are many African Americans, and that goes double for White Supremacists, Tax Protesters, Radical environmentalists, or whatever. Worldwide, Islam is fighting lots of groups on lots of borders: Hindus in India, Communists in China, secularists in Europe, Jews in Israel, Zoroastrians, Bahai, animists, and of course Christians, Christians in many places. They are more violent. Whether that is tribal violence (heightened or mitigated by Islam, pick your theory) or Islamic violence that has influenced tribes doesn't much matter for the larger discussion, because measurement isn't going to be definitive. But pick up a world map and just look at it.
So we settle into two camps, one saying that Muslims aren't any worse than others, and heck, we made 'em mad so it's our fault (and Israel's), the other saying that they are all dangerous and we should kick them all out. Both POV's are pretty much insane.